Saturday, 20 February 2016

Matka Ajan Rannoille by Jesufaglar.

Photo courtesy of Luova Records.
A few years ago, probably with one eye on the new millennium, there was a fad for burying cultural artefacts representing society in time-capsules for future generations to dig up. I don't know if Matka Ajan Rannoille by Jesufaglar ever made it into a Finnish time capsule but if it did there are going to be some very confused Finns in a hundred years or so, how did a 70s album make it into a 2000s capsule! This is the musical equivalent of a time machine whisking you back to a time before punk. After listening to this album I half expected to see people wearing flares and tank tops and to read of political attempts to limit social inequality!

Jesufaglar comprised of Sanna Klemetti; vocals and piano, Enni Kyttänen; vocals and violin, Taneli Hildén; vocals and flute, Tatu Säteri; guitars, Juho Kalliolahti; bass, Joel Pihlaja; drums and Veli-Ville Sivén; organs (1). Sadly they seem to have split up sometime after 2012 (2) but they should be proud of this album.

Fortunately Matka Ajan Rannoille ('Journey to the Shore of Time'), which was self released in 2010 and sold out, was picked up by Finnish record label Luova who ended up with a copy and decided to re-release it recently. (Interestingly Luova's webpage mentions a planned 2016 EP of previously unreleased material by the band.) Musically the album is very 1970s prog/jazz rock, kind of Foxtrot era Genesis meets Focus meets Henry Cow with the odd sprinkling of Weather Report! The female vocals are what sets it apart for me with hints of Bjork and Dagmar Krause at times, and not speaking Finnish made it even more intriguing!

First track Kultasuu is almost an instrumental which starts with a piano refrain before the flute and then the rest of the band join in, at about 2 mins it starts to develop and build and at 3.30 goes into prog rock overdrive before returning to the original refrain again- good, catchy, pretty track, though is that someone whistling in the background?

Taikuri is a different bag, it starts with half heard voices and a siren before the band come in followed by the vocalist, although I haven't got a clue what they are on about this track is excellent, brisling with energy and purpose. With lots of flute and intent vocals this track reminded me at times of 'Get 'Em out by Friday'.

At the moment Kurtisaani is probably my favourite track, due to the first 2 mins or so of beautiful melody and vocals which return at about 3.10 after a prog excursion, as the track continues the intensity grows before ending with subtle feedback. Again it reminds me of Foxtrot in terms of phrasing and instrumentation without ever being derivative.

Fourth track Katkeris is quite different from the preceding tracks with dramatically changing tempos before it goes into a full on prog/jazz rock out!

As you would expect from a prog band title track Matka Ajan Rannoille clocks in at over 11 mins, it is quickly into its stride with those excellent intriguing vocals coming in early, the rest of the song wends its quirky way to about 5.30 where it fades away but then returns initially with just the flute before other instruments join in (quite 'Suppers Ready' in terms of effect) building to a fairly epic climax!

I've really enjoyed listening to this album by a band I hadn't heard of two days ago! Matka Ajan Rannoille is a well crafted prog rock album with interesting songwriting, distinctive vocals and some beautiful melodies. Yes its very 70s and I know I've mentioned Foxtrot a few times as a reference point but I'm sure that was their intent and if you're into progressive rock you will probably find a lot here to enjoy including copious flute!         



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