Hailkara is a Finnish band from the 70's with a rather unique sound. Their first album is comprised of five long and excellent tracks that are partly characterized by great riffs for guitar/saxophone (Van der Graaf Generator would be the best comparison) with heavy (fuzz) bass underneath. There are also many quiet passages which have a chamber prog feel or even a Gothic/medieval touch. On the first track, European folk and traditional music are integrated with progressive rock with beautiful saxophone leads. The second track opens with eerie, melancholic "chamber" prog with delicate passages for flute, organ and strings and/or mellotron. The somewhat dark, haunting atmosphere remains throughout the album. The upbeat parts are dominated by blistering, slightly psychy lead guitar parts and fantastic saxophone riffs. If you like King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator or Gentle Giant, you will surely enjoy Haikara. All in all an excellent album.
Geafar starts off in an unexpected way: The first track sounds more like brass rock (think of Blood Sweat and Tears, Electric Flag, etc.) or even (psychedelic) soul similar to Wilson Pickett or Curtis Mayfield. Surprising and maybe not really "progressive", but the track certainly has a nice groove and great fuzz bass. The second track recalls the charming weirdness of mid-70's Gong with a nicely flowing wah wah guitar and saxophone dominating. About halfway. a majestic saxophone lead (in the best Van der Graaf Generator fashion) and, on top, a soaring lead guitar lead to a quiet, beautiful part with flute and ethereal female vocals. On the short, third track, they catch up with the sound presented on their first album. A piano starts a melancholy theme, which is accompanied a bit later by the ethereal female voice and violin/cello. The following track could easily be a shortened Van der Graaf Generator track (taken from H to He ...). The last track, the 14 minute "Geafar", is a killer one, starting off quietly with a solo piano theme. Then a great progressive rock riff for guitar and saxophone follows and, a bit later, the female voice sets in the refrain. The instrumental breaks between the vocal sections are dominated by great saxophone leads (which most will define as Van der Graaf like). After a few minutes a longer instrumental section follows. First the lead guitar takes the solo, next the saxophone takes over and underneath there is some great active drumming. Incredible arrangements for saxophone/guitar follow which even recall the almighty Moving Gelatine Plates. Brilliant. A quiet, beautiful part for piano and saxophone slowly increases in tension and leads to the sax/guitar riff of the beginning. A great ending to a fantastically diverse album. Highly recommended!
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