Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Haikara - Tuhkamaa CD (album) cover

TUHKAMAA

Haikara

 

Eclectic Prog

3.82 | 21 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ScorchedFirth
4 stars (7/10)

For better or worse, each Haikara album has seen something new in the sound. In this case, much better. On Haikara's previous album "Haikara IV: Domino", there was one track, "Gloria Deo", that stood out amongst the others, with a darker heavier sound, similar to 70s King Crimson (in particular, the albums "Larks' Tongues In Aspic" "Starless And Bible Black" and "Red"). Haikara take this sound and develop it further on their fifth album, "Tuhkamaa" (which appropriately seems to translate as "Ash Land" in English).

To help with this development of sound, there are some key musical changes. The guitar is harsher, and is spitting out Frippish riffs, often in odd time signatures. Over the top of this we often have the saxophone screeching menacingly, gone completely are the smooth jazz approaches of "Haikara IV: Domino", replaced with aggression, and a dark intent. Realising that the vocals are not really the key to the music here, they are used sparingly, but effectively. In fact, 4 of the 8 tracks here are instrumentals. The final big change is that cello has also entered the sound, replacing Jan Schaper's recorders, and played intelligently by Hannu Kivilš. It is used to often create a mellow or sombre tone as well as excitement, when required.

The result of this is a heavier, fuller, and more compelling album than any Haikara has released since their excellent debut, concentrating mostly on tight, and darker pieces. This is probably their most aggressive album to date. The drums are often pounding, the sax is now being used powerfully. Much of Haikara's most memorable material is on this album.

The "Tuhkamaa - Intro" gives us a very brief taste of what is to come, so it is really "Kosovo" where things get started, the building pulse of cello with the saxophone over the top immediately showcasing the richer instrumental side that Haikara have created. The march of the drum in the background makes the song feel purposeful, and thus this is a good opener.

"Valtakunta" sees the band further utilising the excellent interplay of cello and saxophone. Whilst it is probably normally the saxophone that takes the lead, the cello can often play this role, and the way they play off each other is one of the more compelling elements of the album. "Valtakunta" also gives us the first vocals, which are done competently. Not fireworks, they more match to the tone of the song. There is again more than one singer, and we do get some enjoyable harmonies.

"Harlekiini" opens with footsteps then organ, in a quite odd manner. Somehow it gives the impression of a creepy abandoned fairground. After this, there is a menacing 6/8 riff with sax slithering around over the top in a slightly bluesy, slightly jazzy way. Very enjoyable. It leads straight into the next track, "Klovni". It opens with dark, low, but full vocals. I am enjoying the Finnish intonation again, and it's worth emphasising how it can often give a band it's own character to be singing in their native language. Later, sax melodies really come to the fore in this mellow setting, they sit on top of the cello really well.

Next up is the title track, "Tuhkamaa", the longest of the album, which starts with a reprise of the theme from the introduction. This is where we start to see some really classic Haikara. It starts with just vocals, cello and a minimal acoustic accompaniment, but in the great Haikara tradition, there are number of good and effectively contrasting parts. What's really great about this song though, is how well it flows through all of this, and still manages to retain a solemn tone throughout.

"Hymni" is another really great song. There are some really pounding rhythms for the sax to screech over, and some parts sound really dramatic. This is probably one of the most eclectic songs of the album, opening with some classical sounding organ, moving through some of the heavier guitar and saxophone parts, to a sitar solo. By the end, there is a swirl of duelling instruments (including the sitar). There is a real variety of sound to this song that makes it highly appealing.

The album closes with "Oodi", which is a bit different to the rest of the songs. It is the only track that I would call vocal dominated, in this case with melodic female vocals. It is a bit more upbeat than the rest of the album, which is probably why it was chosen as the last song, with sax and vocals sometimes entwining melodically.

"Tuhkamaa" is an excellent album, with good things in each track. It flows very naturally, and feels like a really cohesive effort, and definitely needs to be heard as such. Sadly, it seems this is the last we have seen of Haikara. Tragedy struck in March 2005 with the sudden death of band leader Vesa Lattunen, making this release an unexpectedly poignant swansong. Perhaps one day his music will get the more widespread recognition it deserves.

ScorchedFirth | 4/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this HAIKARA review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives