In 1995, the Finnish progressive music association Colossus was founded. One year later the Colossus Magazine appeared and in 2000, Colossus released Tuonen Tytär, a tribute to the Finnish progressive rock bands, on the Italian Mellow Records-label. Soon after, Mellow Records stopped the collaboration with Colossus but fortunately, French Musea took over. It was the start of a series of so-called Colossus-projects. Bands from all over the world playing progressive rock epics around a common theme with vintage instruments like Moog-synthesizers, Moog Taurus bass pedals, Hammond organ, mellotron, Rickenbacker guitars, but no programmed drums or drum machines.
During the years, Colossus released The Spaghetti Epics I, II and III, The Colossus Of Rhodes, Kalevala, Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno on which we can enjoy many less known and unknown prog rock bands. What a great effort by Colossus! Their latest release is the successor of the first Colossus-project entitled Tuonen Tytär II. This time 31 bands not only cover well-known original Finnish bands like Wigwam, Tabula Rasa and Kalevala, but also less known and unknown bands. To my surprise, I saw the names of many new Finnish bands and artists I’m not familiar with: Tommy Eriksson, Pax Romana, Kate, The Phase, Jeavestone, Tking Dkeys, Kumina Org, Piece Of Cake, Onségen Ensemble, Scarlet Thread, Stringpuree Band and Kosmos. Alongside a number of bands, I already knew: Overhead, Ageness, Ozone Player, Mist Season, Viima and Haikara.
The sound on this triple album is generally more influenced by classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac and less by the legendary early seventies symphonic rock bands as ELP, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes and King Crimson. That is mainly due to the omnipresence of the typical rock guitar and the importance of emotion and melody rather than complexity or showing skills. This project is in fact more rock and blues orientated.
CD-1: the contribution of Argentinean band Jinetes Negros (Atlantis, Nova) contains lots of room for vintage keyboards, a classical undertone with inspired Spanish vocals, hard-edged guitar and a Hammond organ solo. The Samurai Of Prog deliver in (Colossus, Wigwam) nice Fender Rhodes electric piano, mellotron violins, clavinet and Korg synthesizers. Tommy Eriksson covered (Cheap Evening Return, Wigwam) with tender grand piano, mellotron and Gabriel-like vocals in a bombastic finale with fiery electric guitar and Hammond organ. Overhead surprises with (Vuorellaistuja, Tabula Rasa). You can enjoy beautiful Finnish vocals, flute, piano, twanging acoustic guitar and a final part with mellotron violins and a wah-wah guitar with piano. Dutch band Trion covers (Vanha Surullinen, Nova) with warm harmony vocals and excellent playing on Hammond, mellotron, MiniMoog and church-organ. In the final track, we hear British Willowglass with the glorious mellotron, swinging Hammond and flashy ARP Pro Solist synthesizer in (Fairyport, Wigwam) .
CD-2 emphasizes the harder-edged guitar playing. Ageness produces a long and intense guitar solo in (Praying Stone, Scarab). Folk rockers Jeavestone cover (Delightful, Kaamos) with dual rock guitar, Jethro Tull -like flute playing and strong Hammond organ. Tking Dkeys bring Hendrix/Cream-oriented guitar with powerful vocals and a profuse synthesizer solo in (Gryf,Tabula Rasa). We hear Kumina Org with hot percussion, swinging Hammond, a powerful bass and a fiery guitar solo in (Joropo Llanero, Piirpauke). Piece Of Cake delivers excellent rhythm guitar and strong vocals in (Boogie Jungle, Kalevala). The contribution of Pinnacle contains an exciting rock guitar, splendid Hammond work and a strong bass/guitar duel in (Paikalliset Tuulet, Finnforest). Onségen Ensemble covers (Escape From The Storm, Kalevala) with a protrusive rhythm-section and mind-blowing rock guitar between Led Zeppelin and early Fleetwood Mac. Powerful rock guitars and saxophone can be heard in (Down To Earth, Made In Sweden) from Karmic Jaggernaut. A pleasant exception on this second CD is Italian keyboard player Cristiana Roversi with (Sane Again, Wigwam). On this project, Roversi (Moongarden, Submarine Silence) participates in a four-piece, including members of Finnish bands Pax Romana and Kataya. You can enjoy a rich vintage keyboard sound with alternating atmospheres between mellow, with vocals and mellotron flutes, and bombastic with majestic grand piano play, soaring mellotron waves, dazzling Polymoog-flights and fat Moog Taurus bass pedals work. This is marvellous symphonic rock!
CD-3 has a strong emphasis on folky elements. The Ozone Players for instance use a sitar combined with fiery electric guitar runs in (Kunnes, Finnforest). Equilibrio Vital use a sitar as well, but also a tablas sound, swirling flute play, a flashy synthesizer solo and sensitive electric guitar in (Impressions Of India, Jukka Tolonen). Kosmos creates a folky atmosphere in (Takaisin Virtaan, Pekka Streng & Tasavallan Presidentti) . Also worth mentioning is Viima (Uuteen Aikaan, Scapa Flow) with beautiful mellotron flutes, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond organ and warm Finnish vocals. Scarlet Thread has a female singer with a high-pitched voice, violin and a raw guitar solo in (Tulen Pisara, Fantasia) . Let’s not forget the jazz-rock by Mist Season in (Pan, Maru & Mikael) with strong contributions of saxophone, piano and guitar.
A special remark concerns the final composition (Yksi Maa-Yksi Kansa, Haikara) by Haikara. This is a 12-minutes bonus track featuring varied sounds with strong instrumentation, warm twanging acoustic guitar, but also classical violin, a jazzy saxophone and a rock guitar, topped by fine Finnish vocals. However, my highlight is the first track of CD-3 (Gloria Deo, Haikara) by heavy proggers Il Fauno Di Marmo. We hear many interesting, flowing shifting moods: a tender grand piano intro with dreamy acoustic rhythm guitar, but also swinging with powerful Hammond organ, protrusive guitar riffs and a heavy mid-tempo with a tight rhythm-section. In the end, the guitarists play a harder-edged solo with howling runs, accompanied by lush Hammond organ and a powerful rhythm-section. Haikara is a very promising band!
My conclusion: Tuonen Tytär II is an interesting project for the more adventurous prog heads and for the vintage keyboard aficionados to check out.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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