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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Põhja Konn - Põhja Konn - 2017


    
“... a wonderful discovery from Estonia ...”
Põhja Konn is a band based in Tallinn, Estonia. The band was formed in the year 2009 and went on hiatus in early 2011. Out of the blue in 2015 came an invitation from the Estonian Writers Association to produce and release an album, setting classic Estonian 20th Century poetry to rock music in the progressive idiom of the band. The band worked with eight poems by Estonian poetess Betti Alver, whose 110th Birthday was celebrated on the album’s release date. Never having recorded their previous body of work, the band reignited the fires of their yet unrecorded music with the addition of four new tracks. The band was given the creative liberty in setting the text to music. The music has influences from Estonian rock bands and the Prog bands of the seventies. The band blends these colors together in a new palette that sounds fresh and original. Personally I was positive surprised by the slight Gentle Giant influences, especially in the keyboard work of Valter Soosalu and both guitar players. A remarkable Estonian release.
Ott Adamson - drums; Siim Avango - bass; Jürgen Kütner - solo guitar; Kristen Kutner - guitar, mandolin; Valter Soosalu - keyboards, vocals

Johan Alexander Petti - bass guitar on Klas ma Eestit unes nägin?
You can find the following 11 tracks on this wonderful album; “Võitlus”, “Põhja Konn”, “Tähetund”, “Ärkamine”, “Hulkuv laev”, “Pigilind”, “Ümarruut”, “Mängivad pillid kuu on vees”, “Selle ilma igav kainus”, “Ilu”, “Kas ma Eestit unes nägin?”.

The album is packed in a nice digipak with an introduction and lyrics. This fine product is in the first place made for the Estonian market. So there is no English translation of the booklet. Therefore we will concentrate on the universal world language ... the music itself.

“Võitlus” opens the album with a delicate guitar intro of both guitar players before the whole band joins in. In the last section of the song you can find nice electric guitar parts and the first slight influences of one of my favorite bands from the seventies, Gentle Giant. Especially in the keyboard parts. But in the next song “Põhja Konn” you hear this also in the first guitar parts. The music has a strong Rock basis. As a kind of reference I could also give you the name of the famous Dutch band Focus. Just listen to the opening of the track “Tähetund”. But the strong point of the band is that it only uses these influences to develop their own musical palette. It is a strong song with nice vocal melodies. “Ärkamine” has beautiful vocal parts on top a piano part and again I hear a kind of cross-fertilization between Focus and Gentle Giant. The next great song “Hulkuv laev” will also be in the taste of Gentle Giant lovers. With “Pigilind” the band slows down a little bit. It has beautiful and delicate sung vocal parts that are accompanied by acoustic guitars. In the second part you can enjoy a great Synthesizer solo ... beautiful track. The instrumental “Ümarruut” is more up tempo and has lovely and uplifting melodies. In these instrumental parts the band is showing their musical skills. This song has a more jazzy atmosphere. These jazzy atmospheres you can also find in the delicate sung “Mängivad pillid kuu on vees” The use of the mandolin in the music of Pohja Konn makes it also special. Great song which has the needed diversity. The opening of “Selle ilma igav kainus” has a short and little reference to another great band of the seventies ... you have to listen a couple of times to the keyboard opening, otherwise you will miss it ... a little ode to Genesis. Musically speaking the song has nothing to do with this band ... it is typical Pohja Konn music. Keyboard player (and singer) Valter Soosalu uses a lot of organ and harpsichord sounds. In the next track “Ilu” the up tempo rock parts are combined with a short acoustic guitar part and it has a delicate closing section with piano and delicate sung vocals. The album closes with the track “Kas ma Eestit unes nägin?” The song is more guitar oriented and has catchy vocal refrains.
Well this is a wonderful discovery from Estonia. This self titled debut album of a bunch of talented and skillful musicians is hopefully only the first one of many albums. The band is in the process of developing their own sound but is at the same time influenced by the music of the seventies. I love the connection with the music of bands like Gentle Giant and Focus. Especially the Gentle Giant influences of keyboard player and main composer Valter Soosalu were devoured by your reviewer.
Douwe Fledderus - June 2018
rating - Independent Release

 

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