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14 May 2017

Scapa Flow “Uuteen Aikaan” 1980 Finland Prog Symphonic Rock











Scapa Flow “Uuteen Aikaan” 1980 very rare Finland Prog Symphonic Folk Rock
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A faithfully remastered reissue on 180-gram vinyl in a limited edition of 500 copies, licensed from Warner Music Finland and presented in a gatefold cover! The inside cover and inner sleeve are full of previously unpublished photos! This is one of the lost and newly-found items of the Finnish prog history. It appeared on vinyl in 1980, but stylistically this album could have emerged from the later heyday of prog, say 1975. It has a folky feel reminding of the contemporary Finnish band VIIMA, patrticularly that band's wonderful debut which featured a female vocalist. The melodies and delicacy bear some resemblance to Camel and Finnforest................

 Good album and band from Finland formed in 1976 with one album released in 1980 in vinyl format at Kompass records didn't get very much attention in that period and because of that very unknow in prog circles . They have the sound and manner of interpretation something between their country fellows Nova, Tabula Rasa with a touch of folk elements . A very good voice of lady Pia Maria Noponen, warm and beautiful voice. They released a single album in 1980 and after nobody heared of them. Anyway if you are intrested in progressive music with folk leanings, check this one out. Nothing groundbreaking but pleasent all the way, and a record much better than many of that era, 1980 is a year when prog was in the shadow, but from time to time were bands and albums that keep the flag high in progressive music. 3 stars, a good album all the way, worth to be investigated from time to time..... by b_olariu .............

One of the lost and newly-found (that is, released as a CD recently) items of the Finnish prog history. Appeared on vinyl in 1980 but if I remember right was actually written years earlier, or at least the band had existed for years before their sole album finally came out to deaf ears. What else could one expect at the time when artistic prog rock was completely out of fashion? Stylistically this album could have come at the later haydays of prog, say 1975 (when TABULA RASA's debut came out); if there are sonic details or production more modern than mid-70's, they are neatly interwoven into the whole. And what's best, the album does not sound dated as so many of the late 70's/ early 80's albums do. Sound is tidy and clear but not clinic at all. It even has a folky feel.
Indeed, as Kenethlevine has already mentioned, this band comes close to the recent Finnish band called VIIMA and especially their wonderful debut which featured a female vocalist. SCAPA FLOW's vocalist is Pia-Maria Noponen who afterwards moved to Italy and has sadly passed away, if I remember the liner notes accurately. Also flute (and sax) is featured, in a more or less same manner as in Tabula Rasa or Viima (don't think of Ian Anderson). Melodic and delicate music bears some resemblance to Camel and Finnforest.

The tracks are not very long but they are quite complex and progressive in nature. Unfortunately, with only seven tracks, the album is only under 34 minutes long. (And in these days when 78 minutes is not rare running time of a CD, that can be frustrating. Actually it shouldn't feel like a fault if an album misses the standard 40+ length by few minutes!) But frankly, when the album is short, the more all of the material ought to be far from dull moments. I agree with Kenethlevine that there are forgettable passages, as well as banal male vocals (why, oh why?) What a pity: easily this could have been a top-notch classic stuff. 3½ stars - rounded up to keep the balance.....by Matti ..............

 I'm uncertain if this charming album has as much merits for a global listener as it had for me as a Finn, and also as a person open for the stylistic choices of music and moods of the lyrics. The fragile spiritualism of the album flow with visions of early 80's Finnish post-agricultural sceneries, and led me to a sensational voyage of dreams and memories.
In the beginning of the record, sorrowful, longing voice of late Pia-Maria Noponen echoes from the past preserved on the tapes, full of melancholia contemplating the autumn's sadness, and the readiness to awaken to anticipations of distantly approaching next summer. Subtle keyboard driven intro leads to a more dynamic main theme, resembling Tabula Rasa with nice 70's sounding guitars and beautiful flute melody lines. The vocal harmonies of male and female singers resemble the rhymes of Peter, Paul and Mary, arranged to slightly gospel oriented rock passages. The sadness of early Van Der Graaf Generator recordings was also one association received through the saxophone's presence upon acoustic rock texture.

Mystery of the satin carpets are sown to web of anticipating guitar chords, and revealed after a thunder storm has passed by. Strongly audible soft bass line carries forward this song, which has slight feeling of 60's hippie anthems in the vocal lines and euphorically waving melodies. Ethereal verse longs for the arrival of mythic muse hidden to the heavens and riches of the nature. Later part of the song has curious experimental phase for effect-treated instruments, percussions and flautist's innovation, gaining wind to sails for venturing further to the seas of pathos.

The pleasant rhythmic solutions of "Mikä aamu" are accompanied by Jethro Tull resembling flute solos, lyrics focusing to the anxiety of everyday life in controlled society, binding us to the capitalistic enterprises. Both joy of dreams and power of suppressing realities are presented in their own compositional motives. Following them, an acoustic guitar of a lovingly calm pastoral intro leads to another weary description of normal day of life, facing the terrors of technological threats troubling a small man, and thinking what the new age is about after all. Most healing religious rock sphere of passion has solos directed for organ, flutes professionally supporting. After this, piano and lady singer's voice conjure a tender melodic tale of stairs carved to the wind, a really touching anthem of dreaming, yearning to escape searching a better place.

The song title "Koi" could refer to a moth, but I think more likely it meaning the Finnish word for dawn. Acoustic guitar and flute dominate this instrumental song, which reminded in its style the early recordings of Rufus Zuphall. The conclusion of the album opens with fine acid guitar solo, helping to take a step above, strengthening with its words this major lyrical theme of the record. After a quiet folk glade for vocal harmonies, the return to psychedelic sound treated main theme maneuvers forward with religious certainty, shimmering with a warm flame of love. Nice instrumental passage with neat rhythm arrangements follows, exiting the album with darker guitar riff and saxophone solo.

At time of releasing I believe the album was much in opposition for the public taste focusing to rock'n'roll and punk movement, though I understood it was praised by the critics. I believe the band succeeded better than Tabula Rasa in reaching objectives of spiritual oriented art rock expressionism. Though there are no clear doctrines of organized religion mentioned in the lyrics, unlike the album "Ekkedien Tanssi" of group mentioned, which focused to Christianity. The themes are however very powerfully oriented with spiritual subjects, the certainty of other worlds being clearly present in the feeling of the group's melodic idioms and lyrics. The album also enforces the mournful philosophies with glimpses of hope similar from Nova's solitary record and Haikara's debut album from the Finnish 1970's prog scene. My appreciation for this highly spiritual album is as great as for these two mentioned......by Eetu Pellonpaa .....

 Forming in Helsinki, Finland in 1976, prog-folk group Scapa Flow delivered a sole release in 1980, their debut album `Uuteen Aikaan'. Despite containing plenty of typical acoustic folk characteristics, the band here also incorporated harder rock drumming, constant organ/synth flavours and electric guitar soloing, with flute and saxophone player Ismo Järvinen and female singer Pia-Maria Noponen alternating lead vocals, both sounding especially pleasing when singing alongside each- other. The album therefore maintains a good balance between lighter folk qualities, warm harmonies and more ambitious progressive instrumental flourishes, and it turns out to be a charming and rather special work overall.
After a haunting opening of eerie keyboards and Pia-Maria's voice full of wounded longing, `Valmiina Heräämään' springs to life with flighty flute, snappy drumming and soaring electric guitar runs, with a final ambitious group vocal around organ to close on. Rainstorm ambience backs `Salaisuuksien Satiiniverhot', Ismo's softly crooned voice accompanied by lovely chiming acoustic guitar and wafting playful flute trills, where lead guitar and synth washes take on beautiful and joyous Camel-like romantic textures. Gorgeous murmuring bass and flute prance through pleasant vocal piece `Mikä Aamu', a darker interlude in the middle bringing powerful drums and delirious synth runs with wild commanding saxophone outbursts.

The second side opens just as strong with the title track `Uuteen Aikaan', a soft yet languid acoustic guitar and flute lament. `Tuuleen Kaiverretut Portaat' is a melancholic piano ballad sung by Pia-Maria, and despite it having a noticeably poorer sound quality than the rest of the album (almost sounding like a demo), it achieves a stark and reflective honesty. `Koi' is a brief sprightly instrumental that would have easily fit alongside `Six Ate' off Camel's debut album, acoustic guitars strumming feverishly to spirited flute and leaping upfront bass. Closer `Askel Ylöspäin' is a dizzying and addictive mix of unhinged drumming, swirling spacy synth effects, frantic acoustic guitars and male and female voices singing in unison, with spikier saxophone and constant electric guitar soloing weaving in and out. It showcases the incredible talent all the band had, and it only hints at directions they could have headed in, sadly not to be.

`Uuteen Aikaan' is an ideal album for those not usually interested in folk music, as this adds plentiful progressive rock elements, making the mix much more approachable than usual. It occasionally reminds of Sandrose's self-titled album with its striking female lead over symphonic prog flavours, and its ample use of flute, organ and symphonic guitars could be warmly received by fans of Camel. It may be short at barely thirty four minutes, but each of the seven pieces quickly reveal a lavish assortment of sounds and styles with very carefully considered arrangements and skilful playing. Those progressive music collectors who already have a large amount of titles that are always on the lookout for some obscure yet utterly worthwhile additions to their collection would find Scapa Flow's album very rewarding, and this single little debut album is truly something to be cherished!.......by Aussie-Byrd-Brother .............

Scapa Flow is a large bay formed by the Orkney Islands Mainland, Burray, South Ronaldsay, Flotta and Hoy. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, especially during the first and second world war, the bay was one of the most important naval bases in Great Britain, an ideal operational base for the blockade of German sea routes. The place was known, however, mainly because of the events on June 21, 1919, when the imperial naval army interned there was sinking. 74 ships sank to the seabed before the eyes of the bewildered guards.

Why a Finnish Progformation named after this place I know however not. At least, I know very little about Scapa Flow (the band). In the booklet of the CD-Reissues of her only album, which appeared in 1980 "Uuteen Aikaan", there is quite a lot of text to be found, but the same is written in Finnish, so I can only guess if the annual figures to be found in it Is a band history. The oldest year to be found there is 1976, which is presumably the founding year. When the band has disappeared is not so clear. Only 1980, the year of Uuteen Aikaan, and 1996 appear in the text. The fact that the latter is the year of dissolution seems unlikely to me. I rather assume that the band soon fell apart after the release of the LP.

For the music to be found on "Uuteen Aikaan", the text also contains notes. There is in a place of "Frank Zappan, Jethto Tullin yes Camelin". Zappa, Jethro Tull (the "Jethto" is certainly a typo) and Camel also. From Zappa on "Uuteen Aikaan" is nowhere to be noticed, from Tull actually not (except for an existing flute), but Camel fits a lot. A loose-flaky, sometimes slightly Nordic-melancholic, slightly folky symphoprog played Scapa Flow, which is quite comparable with the music of Camel (around "Moonmadness").

A Finnish Camelklon are certainly not Scapa Flow. The very penetrating singing of Pia Maria Noponens, the occasional jazzy jazz lines of Jarvinens, folk acoustic guitar inlays and virtuosic, classical-inspired piano tours ensure their own character. A further, somewhat absurd comparison appears. The music is reminiscent of some Basque groups such as Itoiz, Itziar or Haizea, active in the late 1970s, due to the almost Iberian influence of the acoustic guitars, but especially the peculiar language. In fact, Finnish and Basque are, indeed, somehow related.

Scapa Flow is a nice, not very exciting, but very nice and entertaining little disc, which is surely the best thing in the classical-progressive aspect of 1980 (but there was not much competition there). The album, which was extremely rare in Vinyloriginal, was only released on CD by the Finnish label Rocket Records. Who is interested in the album should look directly at the label or with Scandinavian CD-sender after the disc!.....by......Achim Breiling ............

Credits
Bass, Bass Guitar [Fender Fretless] – Asko Ahonen
Cover – Ullis (2)
Design [Additional Cover Design] – Mikko Uusi-Oukari
Drums, Percussion – Leevi Leppänen
Guitar – Timo Seppänen
Layout – Mirva Vainio-Ketola, Petri Vainio-Ketola
Organ, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Synthesizer [Polymoog, Mini Korg] – Eero-Pekka Kolehmainen
Photography By – Derrick 'Frippe' Frilund
Photography By [Additional Photos] – Antti Louhio, Ari Knuuttila, Derrick 'Frippe' Frilund, Harri Väkevä
Producer – Lasse Rönkä
Recorded By – Dan Tigerstedt, Lasse Rönkä (tracks: B2), Petri Peltola
Remastered By – Pauli Saastamoinen
Vocals, Flute, Saxophone – Ismo Järvinen
Vocals, Flute, Synthesizer [Polymoog], Grand Piano – Pia-Maria Noponen

1. Valmiina heräämään
2. Salaisuuksien satiiniverhot
3. Mikä aamu
4. Uuteen aikaan
5. Tuuleen kaiverretut portaat
6. Koi
7. Askel ylöspäin

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..

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