Ilkka Harjula is a Finnish musician who started to play the piano at the age of five. When he was thirteen he picked up the electric guitar and soon after that, he found himself playing the drums in a local band. Around that time he also started to study classical guitar. So it's right to say that Harjula is a real multi-instrumentalist! Through the years he has been involved in several bands and projects, and even nowadays he's still playing in various bands or being a recording engineer for them. Lately he found that it was time to start his own musical project. He called it Dark Intervals and recorded its debut album The Flow.
The project name Dark Intervals is a homage to Keith Jarrett, of whom Harjula thinks he's one of the greatest jazz musicians of all times. Dark Intervals is a live solo piano album by this American pianist recorded during a concert at the Tokyo's Suntory Hall in 1987 and released in 1988. Harjula sees Dark Intervals as a solo project in which he's able to produce his own material without time tables or other restrictions.
While listening to the eight tracks on The Flow I almost couldn't believe that Mr. Harjula played all the instruments himself. He managed to get a real band sound on which next to himself only singer and vocal coach Margit Tornio can be heard. Her voice sounds like a blend of the voices of Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering), Sonja Kristina (Curved Air) and Toyah (Willcox). The eight compositions mostly move towards the kind of music Rush made in the eighties. The same kind of bass parts for which Geddy Lee but also Chris Squire (Yes) are well-known can be heard.
Occasionally the keyboards and the riffs and solos performed on the electric guitars sound like the music on albums like Moving Pictures (1981), Power Windows (1985) and Hold Your Fire (1987). However, I wouldn't call Harjula a copycat. Thanks to the female vocals the music has its own identity. Furthermore it's slightly heavier than the music of this Canadian trio. The eight tracks on The Flow are rather enjoyable. In my opinion the highlight on the album is the final piece Winter Thoughts. Here everything comes together: 'Xanadu meets Tom Sawyer'.
Dark Intervals, which is in fact Ilkka Harjula, made a fine debut album with The Flow. Currently Harjula is already composing new material for the forthcoming second album. Hopefully the music on that record contains the same quality level or even better! Anyway, it's something to look out for!
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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