Nova Atlantis – 40th Anniversary Edition
15 €incl. 24% VAT
The Svart reissue of this cult Finnish Prog Rock album comes with loads more than just a simple LP reissue. We got in touch with the band’s leader and songwriter Antti Ortamo, who felt that the album suffered from a mix that could have been better. So, we dug up the original multitrack reels and went to Finnvox, who performed a new mix according to Ortamo’s instructions. The reels also contained one completely previously unreleased track, “Lukiossa”, which was left unmixed at the time, so it was also added to this new version. The new version omits the track “Kaupungin naiset” which was also released as a single, as was the band’s original vision.
First LP of this 2LP + 7 inch set has the original version of the album, just as released in 1976. Second LP contains the brand new mix with bonus track, and the 7″ is a repro of the band’s only single “Käytävä / Kaupungin naiset”. Also included is a booklet with new liner notes and more.
Helsinki-based prog rock band Nova was founded in 1974 by singer and keyboard player Antti Ortamo, bassist Vexi Kumpula and drummer Juki Marjala. This LP Atlantis is their only album from 1976. Atlantis has later been considered as one of the key albums of Finnish prog rock in the 1970s – though the album went largely unnoticed when it was new.
Because Ortamo and Kumpula were studying musicology, they had access to the rehearsing studio of the music department. They recorded a demo tape there and played it to a friend of Ortamo’s brother, Meiju Salonen, who worked at the office of Finland’s leading alternative record company Love Records. Salonen liked what she heard and asked the permission to play the demo to one of the company’s executives, Atte Blom. Blom also liked what he heard and offered the band a recording contract.
Nova’s first release on Love Records was a 7” single Käytävä / Kaupungin naiset in September 1975. The next step was an album. The recordings took place in Stockholm, Sweden in February 1976 under Richard Stanley’s supervision. He was a British film and music producer and also a regular producer for Love’s albums.
”We gave him demo tapes we had recorded in our rehearsals, and Stanley got the idea to make the album very Pink Floyd -like. My idea was to make it more heavy, something like the band Mountain. More distorted and raw”, Ortamo recalls.
The original album includes also the single track “Kaupungin naiset”, but this was not the original plan.
”In the studio Richard Stanley noticed that we need five more minutes of music on the a-side. He asked me to write something. Me and Juki thought we’d just improvise something and pick a five-minute part from the tapes later. But our guitar players refused to play something they hadn’t rehearsed beforehand, and we had to give up the thought”, Antti Ortamo says. However, an improvisation without guitars was recorded, and the original plan is now true on this reissue, with Kaupungin naiset substituted with Lukiossa.
Atlantis was released in June 1976. Unfortunately, during the time of the release prog rock was fading in Finland, and Love Records had ran into economic difficulties. There wasn’t much promotion made and the album sold poorly. Ortamo recalls 500 copies being sold to Amsterdam and 200–300 copies in Finland. A few hundred copies was not much even in the small prog rock market of small Finland. The high quality of the album and the beautiful artwork by Ortamo and his brother Heikki didn’t help much, if the record dealers didn’t know about the album and therefore didn’t order it in their stores.
Nova was known only in the capital area of Finland. They had a regular audience who knew their songs, but this audience only existed in Helsinki. The band would have needed airplay to become known nationwide, but the album included three 10-minute songs and one already released single track. Even in the 1970s you couldn’t give regular airplay to 10 minute songs in the radio in Finland. Ortamo recalls Atlantis was played once in the national Finnish radio, Se vuosi and Vanha surullinen laulu didn’t get even that ten to fifteen minutes of fame in the radio.
Eventually Ortamo and Marjala began playing together again, but progressive rock was no more popular in the late 1970s. Punk was the thing in Britain and also in Finland, and it was very far from Ortamo’s preferences. Nova existed in different forms until 1979, but the band released nothing after Atlantis.
Atlantis became a rare collector’s item worldwide already in the 1990s, so there has to be something exceptional in this music.