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Höyry-Kone - Huono Parturi CD (album) cover

HUONO PARTURI

Höyry-Kone

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.29 | 155 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars Things remain wildly unpredictable and utterly bizarre on HUONO PARTURI (Bad Haircut), the second and final album of HÖYRY- KONE's (Steam Engine) ten year run. With an eerie radioactive cover that looks like some sci-fi horror scene from a 60's B-movie, the music contained within however crafts another eleven tracks of true avant-garde weirdness as one of Finland's finest takes a whole bunch of disparate ingredients such as King Crimson-esque prog, heavy alternative metal, chamber rock in opposition, Gregorian chants, gypsy folk with touches of jazz and classical infused throughout and stews it all down into one of the most satisfying musical alchemical experiences in all of experimental rock.

HUONO PARTURI finds the band returning with the same core members of Jussi Kärkkäinen, Hänninen, Jarno Sarkula (bass), Tuomas Hänninen (guitar), Topi Lehtipuu (vocals, violin), Jukka Hannukainen (vocals and keys) and Marko Manninen (cello) but with a whole new set of supporting characters conjuring up one strange eclectic mix of prog gymnastics. Despite the new crew on board, this second offering very much continues the unique sound that HÖYRY-KONE set forth on the debut however this time around it all sounds a little more streamlined and less frenetic without the incessant zigzagging but be assured that this is by no means even remotely close to being considered an accessible album.

This album starts off very strangely with a track that is completely out of place with the rest, namely a modern day interpretation of "Beata VIscera" which was composed all the way back in the 12th century by Pérotin. After this unusual opening chorus of Gregorian chants, the album jumps straight into a heavier rock and metal format with jittery guitar angularities reminiscent of the King Crimson "Red" era, however as with the debut album finds classically infused chamber prog a la Univers Zero that weaves into the heavier rock which creates a larger than life dynamism especially as the rhythmic stomps tend to gravitate towards gypsy folk and polka music.

"Baksteri" sounds like a form of progressive klezmer actually and even though no musicians are credited there are various horn sounds such as a tuba as well as what sounds like a clarinet. The title track delivers a hefty metallic intro with stomping angry guitars but then morphs into an avant-garde gypsy folk sound with Topi Lehtipuu's operatic vocal style that reminds me most of the passionate romantic vocalists of the 70s Italian prog scene. For the most part HÖYRY-KONE continues the dual lead guitar with the violin and cello creating bizarre counterpoints with the vocals. It's almost as if different sections of the band created separate composiitons and then they sort of found a way to make them all do nasty things together. Not an easy task but HÖYRY-KONE makes it all sound so effortless.

Once again highly technical workouts are teased into playful bouts of surprise but never supplanting any sort of melodic development that while avant in nature, always dominates the soundscapes. While described by many as the Finnish version of King Crimson, the truth is HÖYRY-KONE has a sound completely their own and is distinct even from the band Alamaailman Vasarat which was the next step for many of the members after this band broke up in 2002. From tender Gregorian chants to the angry metal stomps of "Tottele" and "Laahustaja," HÖYRY-KONE didn't disappoint and suffered no sophomore slump. Very few bands have mastered the skill to mix so many disparate influences and make it sound so natural.

HUONO PARTURI may have resulted in some bad haircuts but it certainly didn't affect the creativity or instrumental interplay of the musicians involved. This music is utterly fascinating in how cleverly crafted it all is and how the band can effortlessly fuse heavy metal with avant-prog, chamber rock and more folk oriented genres. This band is one of the true under the radar gems out there and perhaps the strangest beast ever to emerge from the Finnish prog scene. For my money i prefer the debut album just a smidge over this one but there is no denying that HUONO PARTURI is not as brilliant and demanding as its predecessor despite it being the slightly more accessible and significantly heavier of the two.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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