Esa Kotilainen is a famous Finnish keyboard player. He imported the first MiniMoog-synthesizer to Finland in the early seventies and he featured on many recordings playing it. In the mid-seventies Kotilainen played both in the well-known prog rock band Wigwam and in Tasvallan Presidenti for a short period of time. Over the last few years, he released two albums. -51 Degrees C is his third solo effort; I rated his previous album Turqouise Planet (2009) with four stars (see review).
Syksy is the first song of the new album. It’s divided in two parts with a very relaxing atmosphere. The first part is rather melodic with a French tune accompanied by an accordion and space sounds at the background. The second part is more in the vein of his ‘congeners’ Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre with lots of beeps and flickering sounds as were used in a film like Star Wars. Golggotmannu is a darker piece and less interesting. It could be a copy of a Jean Michel Jarre song from the album Oxygene or Equinoxe. A brass synthesizer repeatedly plays the same short theme. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear any development in this four-minute piece. Talvi -51 C is much better with an up-tempo rhythm and an exotic and dreamy theme. Hongankolislaja is the longest piece of the album lasting over ten minutes. It mainly consists of sound scapes of someone knocking on wood or someone walking in a forest accompanied by howling winds: from a musical point of view nothing happens during this piece. These sounds certainly contribute to the atmosphere for a film score or a horror movie, but for me that’s not enough to hold my attention. Last song Kutu is even more irritating. From the first note to the last you hear strange sounds like a dental drill and howling dogs. These sounds are not what I expect to hear while listening to an instrumental symphonic piece.
This album by Esa Kotilainen is less good as its predecessor Turquoise Planet. The first three pieces are not bad at all, but the other two songs couldn’t bring me in a good mood. In fact they were rather annoying. A last remark: this album only lasts for 37 minutes which is way too short for a CD these days.
** Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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