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650 x black
The original LP (1972, an ultra-mega rarity) of Haikara’s second album Geafar came in a simple jacket with no inserts. Our version has a gatefold jacket with layout by Harri Hietala, who also laid out the original. He added a few extra photos, some of them previously unseen, and in addition he also created a lyric insert.
The international prestige of Haikara is mostly based on their eponymous debut album (1972), a unique, dark-toned and eclectic progressive rock masterpiece that has been compared to the music of King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator and Tasavallan Presidentti among others. The next album Geafar, released at the end of the following year, may not be as coherent as its predecessor, but it certainly continues the band’s classic era and contains some of the finest moments in Finnish prog.
Around the time Haikara was released, the vocalist-lyricist Vesa Lehtinen departed to rejoin the reformed Charlies, the other of the vintage rock bands hailing from the Southern Finnish town of Lahti. In a sense this was a blow for Haikara but the band soldiered on. The composer and frontman Vesa Lattunen’s somewhat mediocre singing found a much needed counterpart in his sister Auli, whose beautiful voice is present to varying degrees on Geafar. This time Lattunen also wrote the lyrics by himself.
The opening track ‘Change’ is a lively rocker with revolution-themed lyrics sung, unusually, in English. Vesa Lattunen’s vocals sound rather shaky in it, probably on purpose though. The jam-like funkiness on the first two tracks is quite a departure from the dark and symphonic seriousness of the debut, which of course is not implying that it would be musically less accomplished. The second song (with a long title meaning “When You Go Far Enough to the Future, You’ll Find Out You’re in the Past”) calms down around the sixth minute for a fascinating slower section featuring flutes and Auli’s wordless vocals.
The brief and elegant ‘Kantaatti’ is practically an art music piece for piano, cello and wordless female voice. Lattunen, who had played double bass in the Lahti Town Orchestra, had witnessed a deep prejudice against rock music among the musicians on the classical side, which only stirred up his will to combine the two musical worlds in his own composing work.
‘Laulu surullisesta pilvestä’ (Song About a Sad Cloud) is another genre-fusing little piece with Auli’s background vocalising and classical instruments accompanying Vesa’s tender vocals and a rhythm section. But perhaps the best is saved for last: for those listeners who are hungry for epic and complex prog in the vein of Haikara’s first album the 14-minute title track will be most rewarding. This time Auli Lattunen sings with lyrics, and the arrangement is very varied in this superb composition. The orchestral section with sharp trumpets reminds me of ‘Salisbury’ by Uriah Heep.
Some critics at the time blamed Geafar for being too introverted and uneven. From today’s perspective it can be said that the closer one listens to this album, free of prejudices and expectations, the better it sounds in its own right.
The morbidly surreal cover art of Geafar, strongly influenced by Salvador Dalí, was again painted by the band’s drummer Markus Heikkerö. It’s worth noticing that Haikara also had another member keen on visual expression: the reeds player Harri Pystynen withdrew from music due to stage fright in 1985 and became a cartoon artist until his death in 1990.