Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tabula Rasa - 1975 - Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa
Tabula Rasa

01. Lähtö
02. Miks' ette vastaa vanhat puut
03. Gryf
04. Tuho
05. Tyhjä on taulu
06. Nyt maalaan elämää...
07. Vuorellaistuja
08. Prinssi

- Heikki Silvennoinen / guitar
- Jukka Leppilampi / vocals
- Tapio Suominen / bass
- Asko Pakkanen / drums
- Jarmo Sormunen / flute
- Jim Pembroke / piano

From Kangsala, Finland, Tabula Rasa was founded in 1972 by guitarist Heikki Silvennoinen, drummer Asko Pakkanen, and bass player Tapio Suominen. During the band's run, Mikko Alatalo played the Peter Sinfield role as contributing lyricist, and unofficial member. They are considered one of the top finish prog bands, but tend be overlooked when put alongside Wigwam, and Tasavallan Pesidentti (sort of like the Kinks next to the Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones). Along with opening for Wigwam, they gained notoriety by becoming runner up in the 1972 "Best Finnish Pop Group" contest.

For the 1975 self-titled debut, the band had been filled out by vocalist Jukka Leppilampi, flautist Jarmo Sormunen, and pianist Jim Pembroke. 1976's "Ekkedien Tanssi" saw some changes in personnel. Jarmo Sormunen was gone, Jukka Aronen replaced Pakkanen on percussion, and keyboardist Jarno Sinisalo replaced Pembroke. Vocalist Jukka Salmela took the lead on the last two tracks. Wigwam's Jukka Gustavson made a guest appearance, and co-produced the album.

The band split in 1977 as Aronen and Silvonnoinen joined Coitus Inc, and other members followed different philosophical paths.

The music is mellow, and melodic. The obvious comparisons are made to their Finnish contemporaries, but there is also a strong resemblance to Camel (and even a bit of Steve Hackett).

First album of a quintet that produced two symphonic prog albums in the mid-70's, their self-titled debut being released in 75 on the Finnish legendary Love Record label . Lead by Leppilampi and guitarist Silvennoinen, the band developed a fairly conventional and calm progressive rock, sounding a bit like Italian bands - despite the very different language, JJ's vocal delivery is somewhat similar to a lot of the Peninsula's prog, further enhanced by a melodic flute, courtesy of Sonmunen.

As hinted above, their very symphonic-styled prog is nothing really groundbreaking or even exciting, so we're light years away of Haikara's two albums, Tasavallan's Lambertland or Wigwam's Fairyport or Being. Don't let this deter you from investigating if you're into relatively soft prog rock, somewhere between Camel, Fruup, BJH or the aforementioned Italian classic groups like PFM or QVL. Of course, the flute will also give it a Tullian touch, but the quintet's music never reaches the brilliance of Jethro's. Four rather-wise tracks per side, none standing out from the rest, and none reaching epic sonic proportions. Just average and honest symphonic prog, but nothing that will be making you write letters home either.

Btw, at the time of reviewing, I was only able to get my hands upon a Japanese label pressing of both of TR album, but I can't imagine that Love Records will not reissue these two albums in the not-to-distant future. So I'm not sure that the album's sleeve was as bland as this CD version, or whether it was a gatefold or not. There is a painting of a nude female walking away in what seems to be a primitive world, and I supposed that it refers to the album's musical or lyrical content. In either case, TR's debut is somewhat interesting in the Finnish landscape,



  2. Love Records for sure won't be reissuing anything at all since they went bankrupt in 1979, but both Tabula Rasa albums as well as many old great Finnish albums such as Wigwam, Tasavallan Presidentti, Blues Section, Eero Koivistoinen and Pekka Pohjola have been or will be reissued by another Finnish label: Svart