ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Various Artists - 2009 - "Tuonen Tytar II"

(179:53 3 CD, Musea Records)


Prolusion. The Finnish progressive rock appreciation and fan society COLOSSUS has been making a rather good name for itself in recent years, ever since it started issuing a line of project releases back in 2000. In collaboration with the legendary French record label Musea, more than a dozen concepts have been conceived, executed and issued. The first of these projects was named Tuonen Tytar, a double CD featuring tributes to various Finnish artists from the golden age of progressive rock. Come 2009 and the second instalment of this particular project, Tuonen Tytar II is at hand, a massive 3 CD box set, and as customary with a Colossus project production, a large, informative booklet, covering most aspects any fan would be curious about concerning the release in question - and then some.

Disc 1 (59:42)


1.  Jinetes Negros  Atlantis (Nova) 6:02
2.  The Samurai Of Prog  Colossus (Wigwam) 7:22
3.  B612  Sanaton Laulu (Finnforest) 5:35
4.  Tommy Eriksson  Cheap Evening Return (Wigwam) 6:32
5.  Overhead  Vuorellaistuja (Tabula Rasa):  8:24
6.  Pax Romana  Nobody Never Knows Nothing (Rockressio):3:43
7.  Kate  Last Quarters (Tasavallan Presidentti) 6:53
8.  Trion  Vanha Surullinen (Nova) 8:11
9.  Willowglass  Fairyport (Wigwam) 7:00
Analysis. When pointing out progressive rock artists that made a name for themselves in the 70s, bands hailing from Finland aren't too often mentioned by fans of progressive rock. In the golden age of the movement, this was a genre where artists from the United Kingdom, United States, Italy and France arguably got most of the attention. Which means that the merits and scope of this particular Colossus Project are twofold: to herald the great progressive rock of their homeland to those who know about them, as well as to introduce listeners unfamiliar with this particular musical legacy to the exploits of the artists from the land of a thousand lakes. As these are cover versions rather than a collection of the original tracks, one might assume that the purpose of that is to get a broader reach with this production, in addition to the fact that the artists involved are given a chance to pay tribute to some of their more or less unsung heroes. The most striking feature of the first chapter on this collection is the stylistic direction explored. Although individual differences obviously occur, it seems that most of these performers were involved in art rock of the symphonic variety. Many of the artists covered seem to have enjoyed quite a lot of Camel and Gentle Giant in particular, although traces of other 70s greats aren't uncommon either. None of the tracks on the first disc strike me as brilliant creations in themselves. Many are interesting beyond the scope of being nice ventures, though; Jinetes Negros and the artist with the peculiar name The Samurai Of Prog open the disc with two instances of just that, the former blending heavy art rock with dramatic symphonic bursts and some laid-back jazz-tinged passages on Nova's track Atlantis, while the latter has a neat cover of Wigwam's creation Colossus a composition I presume the Colossus organization has a warm and heartfelt relation with. Kate's version of Tasavallan Presidentti's Last Quarters is another song worth mentioning a lazy, laid-back venture evolving to quirkier, Gentle Giant inspired territories for the chorus segment. The other tracks don't come across as weak as such though: generally nice symphonic prog excursions with a distinct 70s flavor to them for obvious reasons. Fans of this stylistic expression, and in particular those who love the way it was explored back when prog equalled popular, should find lots of interesting stuff on this disc. Personally I find the covers by B612 and Tommy Eriksson to be the least inspired, while the others struck me as nice songs, but nothing more.

Disc 2 (60:00)

1.  Contrarian  Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose  (Wigwam) 5:59
2.  Simon Says  For Her Son (Scarab) 5:58
3.  Cristiano Roversi  Sane Again (Wigwam) 3:19
4.  Ageness  Praying Stone (Scarab) 5:28
5.  The Phase  Playground  (Kalevala) 3:29
6.  Jeavestone  Delightful (Kaamos) 3:39
7.  Tking Dkeys  Gryf (Tabula Rasa) 6:30
8.  Kumina Org  Joropo Llanero (Piirpauke) 3:19
9.  Piece of Cake  Boogie Jungle (Kalevala) 5:17
10. Pinnacle Tuulet  Paikalliset (Finnforest) 3:50
11. Onsegen Ensemble  Escape From the Storm (Kalevala) 5:35
12. Karmic Jaggernaut  Down to Earth (Made In Sweden) (7:36)
Analysis. The second disc of this production offers pretty much the same as the first one: Art rock, more often than not with a foundation in the symphonic parts of this stylistic universe, and mostly well covered by the artists that have chosen to have a go at these national Finnish progressive rock classics. Opening number Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose is given something of an AOR treatment though, but whether that is due to the song being constructed to explore this musical landscape or if it is an intentionally added emphasis on the composition by Contrarian, I can't really tell. Other tracks venturing slightly outside of the 70s symphonic art rock universe are the two numbers originally written by Scarab featured on this disc. And while Simon Says version of For Her Son is among the few creations that fail to intrigue me on this second part of Tuonen Tytar II, Ageness impresses more with their take on Praying Stone. Ageness is a direct continuation of Scarab, and it is hardly surprising it excels at the neo-progressive attitudes explored in these compositions. Tking Dkeys cover of Gryf is also worth mentioning as an example of a number venturing somewhat outside of the symphonic art rock genre, an intriguing effort with references to 70s psychedelic rock and a few nods in the direction of Jimi Hendrix. The remaining tracks are all to a lesser or greater degree vintage art rock affairs where vintage symphonic traits are the red thread, ranging from folk-tinged excursions to efforts with more of a Latin touch to them in scope. All of them well performed, and while some are more interesting than others none of them manage to truly excel either. The last five efforts on the disc are arguably the strongest. By the way, Made In Sweden has nothing to do with Finlands Progressive, as its a Swedish band.

Disc 3 (60:12)

1.  Il Fauno Di Marmo  Gloria Deo (Haikara) 7:15
2.  Ozone Player  Kunnes (Finnforest) 4:46
3.  Yesterdays  Lost without a Trace (Wigwam) 2:37
4.  Scarlet Thread  Tulen Pisara (Fantasia) 6:47
5.  Misty Season  Pan (Maru & Mikael) 5:35
6.  Viima Uuteen  Aikaan (Scapa Flow) 4:23
7.  Equilibrio Vital  Impressions of India (Jukka Tolonen) 4:41
8.  Stringpuree  Koin Siipesi (Ffinnforest) 6:41
9.  Kosmos  Takaisin Virtaan (Tasavallan Presidentti) 5:20
10. Haikara  Yksi Maa-Yksi 12:07
Analysis. The third disc of the compilation "Tuonen Tytar II" is a much more varied affair than the previous two. While the first and at least to some extent the second CD were firmly rooted in the symphonic parts of the art rock universe, this stylistic expression is the exception for this final part of this production. And personally I find this final disc to be a much more interesting affair as well. While the opening two chapters were distinct in featuring tracks that came across as based on solid workmanship rather than brilliant moments of pure genius, the latter is more often the case in the ten creations chosen for the final chapter of this tribute to Finnish progressive music of yesteryear. Il Fauno Di Marmo's version Gloria Doo (Haikara) opens in an intriguing manner, blending psychedelic space rock with some symphonic touches. This is followed by Ozone Player, which covers Kunnes by Finnforest in a truly splendid manner, in this take a Pink Floyd-ian sounding affair featuring dark textures with a few nods towards eastern music. Yesterdays version of Lost without a Trace is less intriguing, but more due to the song itself than the performance, which is excellent for this ballad. Much the same can be said for Viima's take on Uuteen Aikaan by Scapa Flow: stellar performance, but the song itself isn't really that captivating. But with these two exceptions, the other works covered range from the very good to the brilliant, and making a call for what may be the best track featured is a tough one. Personally I'd give my nod to Stringpuree Band and their version of Koin Slipesi (Finnforest): a dark, haunting piece residing somewhere in between art rock and fusion in style. Then again, the quirky blend of eastern raga, folk and symphonic art rock that makes up Equilibrio Vital's take on Impressions of India (Jukka Talonen) is perhaps just as intriguing. The final track of this collection is another moment of pure brilliance. As an exception to the overall concept, we're treated to an original piece by Haikara on this occasion, the splendid folk rock meets art rock and fusion construction Yksi Maa-Yksi, 12 minutes of pure bliss ending this monumental 3 disc project on a high note.

Conclusion. For those who have a special interest in Finnish progressive rock, this massive compilation must be regarded as an essential purchase. And while not everyone is intrigued by projects featuring cover versions of and by various artists, Tuonen Tytar II does showcase how well such endeavors can be crafted. And for anyone who wants an introduction to the Finnish prog scene of yesteryear, the music alongside the extensive booklet should also mark this down as a production well worth acquiring. And while not all of the songs covered may be of interest, I gather most followers of vintage progressive rock would easily find two hours worth of material they would want to listen to extensively among the three hours supplied, which represents a fairly good value for money as I regard it.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 9, 10 & 11, 2010
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