Verneri Pohjola
Pekka


3.5
great

Review

by Arche USER (86 Reviews)
June 6th, 2017 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An intriguing tribute, Verneri Pohjola melds his father's prog rock offerings with his own brand of jazz.

Without divulging too much information around the circumstances (a simple visit to its Bandcamp page is better than me painfully regurgitating what is freely available to be read), Pekka is jazz trumpeter Verneri Pohjola’s tribute to his late father, Pekka Pohjola, a prominent member of the Finnish prog rock scene. Already with a career of his own to speak of, it’s perhaps a signal of intent that opener ‘The Dragon of Kätkävaara’, a reworking of his father’s ‘Kätkävaaran lohikäärme’, doesn’t enter with the pulsing drums of the original; instead, a glitchy, electronic beat adds a surprisingly inorganic dimension to the track’s Middle Eastern flavour. The conjunction of the backing clicks and pops, Pekka’s Arabesque bass line and Verneri’s jazzy noodlings is a peculiar one, but it highlights the trumpeter’s approach perfectly; the groundwork is already provided, so it’s up to him to use it in a way that’s not a mere aping. In short, they’re not so much covers as they are reformations, with the younger Pohjola's controlled yet flashy performance at its epicentre.

Indeed, aside from its emotional purpose Pekka easily stands on its own feet musically. Verneri’s performance band abide by the common ‘everyone gets a go’ attitude seen in improvisation circles, but the creation (and importantly maintaining) of various atmospheres is impressive. Tuomo Prättälä’s Rhodes, for example, are used to differing effect on ‘Benjamin’ and ‘Innocent Questions.’ The former uses its distinctive chime alongside bells and cymbals to imbue an Oriental feeling; for the latter, however, the substitution of piano for Rhodes and guitar for trumpet, ‘Innocent Questions’ is transformed from a delicate acoustic number into something far more sinister. Arguably, Antti Lötjönen’s contributions of bass carry the most significance and tellingly remain somewhat untouched (with regards to Pekka's own work) - however, the distinct twang of the double bass bridges a forty year gap between father and son more poignantly than any other element.

While Pekka is definitely a jazz album, certain prog rock proclivities remain from its ‘source material’ – the pompous melody of ‘First Morning’ could come straight from an Emerson, Lake and Palmer piece, for example, while the wah-fuelled romp that comprises ‘Pinch’s first minute sounds like one of Focus’ more raucous offerings. Although Verneri’s explorative side yields many wonderful moments, particularly during the second half his propensity for improvisation means Pekka sometimes feels unfocused – its largest fault (aside from a few personal stylistic gripes). This is particularly noticeable during ‘Madness Subsides,’ an attempt at tripling the length of its original counterpart with extended guitar solos, a development of Pekka’s original bass solo, and finally more glitch/trumpet combinations; each section isn’t unpleasant (and as aforementioned showcase fascinating displays of musicianship), but its lack of direction hampers the momentum ‘Inke and Me’ and ‘Pinch’ had built up so convincingly.

Overall however, Pekka works both as a colourful, adventurous jazz album and as a synthesis of two different personal styles. Verneri Pohjola’s decision to continue his father’s legacy is, rather fittingly, a form of experimentation on music which prided itself on its experimental values. Even if it is flawed, I think that’s a pretty damn good way to honour him.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Archelirion
June 6th 2017


5650 Comments


Sputnik's slowly falling apart again so I may not get a chance to do that edit (guess we'll find out), but this is definitely worth a check. I'd rate it higher if my prog appreciation was higher, but it's mostly wonderful.
https://verneripohjolamusic.bandcamp.com/album/pekka-24-bit-441-khz

TwigTW
June 6th 2017


3664 Comments


His last album wasn't bad. From what you say here, this one sounds better. I'll have to check it out.

Digging: Jungstotter - Love Is

Archelirion
June 6th 2017


5650 Comments


I've not heard his first one, but I kinda want to cos I reckon if it's less proggy I'll probably enjoy it even more :]

EvoHavok
June 6th 2017


7680 Comments


Nice read, Aaron. Seems to be an eclectic album with quite the commendable intent behind it.

Digging: Children of Bodom - Hexed

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2017


11673 Comments


Great review, not sure I'll like this but I'll check it anyway

Digging: Orville Peck - Pony

Archelirion
June 7th 2017


5650 Comments


Thanks guys :] Yeah Evo, certainly is that. On a side note, this album has brought me to Pekka Pohjola's music as well, so as a tribute its impact is pretty great!
@Scuro it's worth a check, but I won't gut you if you don't like it ;]

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2017


11673 Comments


How kind haha

This isn't too bad, the more out there parts of this aren't really my jam but the house-y kind of stuff like First Morning is kinda cool.

Archelirion
June 7th 2017


5650 Comments


I am a benevolent being
First Morning is overall one of my favourite tracks, although the main refrain's not exactly my thing. Glad you got at least something out of this :]

MotokoKusanagi
June 7th 2017


1741 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

listening now, First Morning is really good. been on quite the jazz kick lately so this is good timing

TwigTW
June 7th 2017


3664 Comments


"if it's less proggy I'll probably enjoy it even more"

Then you will enjoy it more, because Bullhorn is definitely less proggy!

Archelirion
June 7th 2017


5650 Comments


Awesome, I'll definitely have to give it a listen then ^ ^

cliiint
June 7th 2017


1360 Comments


cover looks like Ethan Klein

50iL
June 8th 2017


5016 Comments


Yooooo Pekka Pohjola is sick, gotta check this

Digging: The Dillinger Escape Plan - Irony Is a Dead Scene

EvoHavok
June 8th 2017


7680 Comments


@cliiint I thought so too, lol.

MuhNamesTyler
June 8th 2017


6498 Comments


Definetly a resemblance


https://goo.gl/images/M7pSr3

GhandhiLion
June 8th 2017


3874 Comments


^my first thought

Digging: John Fahey - The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death

CaptainDooRight
June 8th 2017


2734 Comments


def some good moments on this

Digging: Maestus - Deliquesce

Pho3nix
June 8th 2017


595 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Saw this at a record store in Helsinki today after checking out the review, being a total noob to jazz I'm gonna have to give it a spin!



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