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Salaiva - Hänk CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.00 | 2 ratings

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4 stars Hänk (a peculiar name) is the second album by this young band from Jyväskylä, Finland. Well, peculiar is also the band's name: it could be translated as "hidden sarcasm", and if you divide the word as "sa laiva", it means "thou ship", in an archaic, poetic use of language. From the liner notes: "This record needs to be considered as a thematic piece of music from some place in some time with some people or animals or whatsoever. Imagine - what is HÄNK?" These vague words are very revealing about the nature of the album. Various places and various moods are being painted by this mostly instrumental jazz-rock, and the listener is free to form his/her own images.

There are as many as 15 tracks, most of them very brief, but the album flows quite seamlessly. This really is an album to be listened as one entity. Therefore I'm not heading into track-by-track approach this time, I'm trying to give you a picture of this music as a whole. As with their debut, the sound is deliciously retro and is likely to give several associations to a listener of 70's prog. The composing frontman Miikka Huisko's slightly Jim Pembroke-ish vocals (but in Finnish!) may be one reason for thinking of early WIGWAM - at their jazziest. Then there's definitely the melodic power of early CAMEL, and the way the vocals come here and there as an extra element, not as the central substance of songs. On the other hand some vocal tracks, at least 'Laulan' (= I sing), have a slight folk element too. The carefree atmosphere may taste like Canterbury's jazzy rock.

Especially the first tracks on Hänk have some resemblance to the angular jazz-rock vibe of FRANK ZAPPA, in a similar energetic form as e.g. UTOPIANISTI, another recent Finnish jazz-rock artist featuring saxophones. Even VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and their sax can be mentioned in the analysis of Salaiva's sound, which is loaded with gritty energy, including a flavour of Psychedelic/Space Rock. It's not a polished sound, but I don't have any big complaints about the production. Despite having all these associations, I think Salaiva have a great deal of originality. And the album is wonderfully dynamic, ranging from lively fast compositions to more delicate pieces. Both the atmospheres and the arrangements have more variety than in the debut, which was pretty good too. Warmly recommended for all listeners of retroish jazz-rock.

I bet Salaiva would be great live, because the joy of playing comes through the music even on the studio album. Dear band, if you ever make gigs in Tampere - it's not so far from your hometown - , I can guarantee you'll have the most rewarding audience!

Matti | 4/5 |


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