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20 Sep 2016

Finnforest “Finnforest” 1975 Finland Prog Rock Jazz Fusion








Finnforest  “Finnforest” 1975 Finland Prog Rock Jazz Fusion
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Few bands manage to make an impressive debut album, most of them are still searching for their sound and getting more mature, experienced, and it is quite a challenge to already cause an amazing impression on the first work. Even my beloved PINK FLOYD didn’t make a ground-shaking debut (don’t get me wrong, “Piper At The Gates Of Down” is a good album, but it has some really weak moments in it - this is not the proper place to discuss them, though), neither GENESIS or YES, bands that are very worthy of the most deserved respect and appreciation until today by the various music lovers around the world. On the other hand, FINNFOREST and KING CRIMSON were two rare cases of an already glorious entrance at the prog world. The latter with their amazing ITCOTKC, and the former with this great self-titled jazz/fusion prog album. 

“Finnforest” is sure a remarkable album, and my first experience with the JAZZ/FUSION subgenre. It has many great moments, and gets a bit heavier in some parts, and some few mellow sections. It’s not a “beautiful” album, but certainly a very enjoyable and agradable one to listen to. 

Being this first experience of mine with Jazz/Fusion such a pleasant one, i now feel like discovering more from this genre and from the short discography of this band from Finland. Strongly recommended (despite the sadly out of place closing track)!…by progarchives….. 

There are few instrumental prog albums from the ‘70s better than this. You can put it right up there with Camel’s 'The Snow Goose’ and any Finch album in terms of recording quality, instrumental dexterity and general atmosphere. But still, 'Finnforest’ doesn’t sound like any other thing I’ve ever heard. 

The recording quality exudes the things I love so much about '70s prog recordings: everything earthy, warm, organic, natural. You can almost hear the ¼" thick analog tape zooming along the reels. The transfer from analog to digital seems not to have hurt the atmosphere of this album either. (I have the Love Records CD version, which also includes the 2nd album.) 

Instrumental dexterity? Yeah, they’ve got it. Amidst a bed of rich and sumptuous keyboards, the dynamic center can be found between guitarist and drummer. Who, apparently, are brothers, which can certainly help the chemistry and tension, two crucial ingredients for great music-making. Pekka Tegelman’s guitar work is especially noteworthy. A player both talented and intuitive, he spirals around each song’s framework like a wizard, dispensing line after magic line. It’s not the most insanely rapid, bizarre or virtuoso stuff either: it’s how he plays what he plays. The melodies he chooses are often not obvious ones, but they work so well and manage to make this album hugely memorable long after the actual listening. 

If you’ve shied away from non-vocal prog, worried that the anchor of human vocals makes the music seem empty (a criticism of instrumental rock music I’ve heard voiced several times), this album could change your mind. There’s nothing weightier, more compelling or more familiar than the rich melodies and dynamic interplay that Finnforest’s first album offers. Oh, and play it loud. This is jazzy instrumental progrock that actually rocks……. 

4.5 stars.This is a short record at just over 32 minutes, but man what an album ! The star of this recording is lead guitarist Pekka Tegelman, and his brother Jussi does a fantastic job on the drums, while Jukka Rissanen rounds out the trio on the organ. 

“Mika Yo” opens with organ and gentle guitar, quite pastoral. Drums and a full sound arrive 1 ½ minutes in and it really sounds great. It’s actually a little dark with the guitar crying out. The background organ sounds just right. A calm 4 minutes in before it kicks back in to end it. What a start ! “Sanaton Laulu” opens again with organ with a full sound arriving a minute in. The organ and drums create the base while the guitar comes in playing over top. Beautiful sounding music. The tempo picks up 2 minutes in. More great guitar after 3 minutes as it settles back down to original melody. “Happea” shines after a minute when it kicks in with pounding drums and ripping guitar. It lightens up after 2 minutes with organ leading the way. Guitar is back to end it. 

“Koin Siipesi” is a pastoral song, my least favourite but it’s the shortest. “Paikalliset Tuulet” features some energetic guitar playing with drums, then the organ comes in. A drum solo 2 ½ minutes in. The guitar returns with organ a minute later. “Aallon Vaihto” opens with a nice jazzy sound. Organ comes in and is more prominant before 1 ½ minutes. Piano follows then the tempo picks up 2 ½ minutes in. Guitar solo a minute later is restrained. “Kunnes” is fairly laid back for the first 2 minutes. Then the guitar comes in and the rest of the song is outstanding. The piano is beautiful after 3 minutes. “P.S.” features outbusts of sound in this the final instrumental display on the album. The keys, drums and aggressive guitar recall MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA for me. 

I just really like the mood that is set by these Finns, and the lead guitar and Hammond organ doesn’t hurt either…… 

FINNFOREST were formed in the mid-70’s by Finnish brothers Pekka (guitar, bass) and Jussi Tegelman (drums) with synthesizer and keyboard player Jukka Rissanen. Mostly influenced by the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, their style also evokes early CAMEL, FINCH and CARAVAN. Their music is characterized by energetic and spirited guitar/organ interplay, interesting compositions and very good vintage 70’s jamming overall. Unlike many fusion bands of that era, their albums have a very under-produced, spontaneous feel. 

Their eponymous album, released in 1975, is perhaps their most MAHAVISHNU influenced, with Rissanen sticking largely to his Hammond organ and using his synths sparingly, to mostly good effect. “Läthö Matkalle” (76), considered their best effort, boasts the contribution of two extra keyboard players, an additional bassist and a string quartet. You’ll sense both a MAHAVISHNU and WEATHER REPORT influence on this one, which contains some mighty fine guitar work as well as some very good compositions. “Demon Nights” (79), with its two saxophonists and additional guitarist, has an even more fusion feel, with the WEATHER REPORT influence looming larger than ever, perhaps even a bit too much (some cuts come dangerously close to plagiarism). 

Fusion afficionados in general as well as fans of FOCUS and ARTI E MESTIERI should definitely check these guys out, particularly the album “Läthö Matkalle”. 

Line-up / Musicians 

- Jukka Rissanen / keyboards, synthesizers 
- Jussi Tegelman / drums 
- Pekka Tegelman / guitars, basses 

Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. Mikä yö! (5:27) 
2. Sanaton laulu (3:51) 
3. Happea (4:39) 
4. Koin siipesi (2:52) 
5. Paikalliset tuulet (4:17) 
6. Aallon vaihto (4:54) 
7. Kunnes (4:34) 
8. P.S. (1:40)

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..