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UTOPIANISTI

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Finland


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Utopianisti biography
Utopianisti is Finnish composer / multi-instrumentalist / producer Markus Pajakkala's brainchild, started in 2010. It's a studio project where the line-up changes for every song. Pajakkala plays the drums, woodwinds and some keyboards himself and composes and engineers all the material. Guest musicians are plenty, from different genres - classically trained, jazz, folk and rock musicians. The style is mostly instrumental, energetic jazz-rock / eclectic prog with occasional leaps towards Balkan gypsy music, tango, avant-garde, latin or even operatic metal. Pajakkala is also a key member in the band Poutatorvi.

Markus Pajakkala 2013

Utopianisti official website

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IIII
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Lusti Music & Arts Oy
Audio CD$19.99
Third FrontierThird Frontier
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BELLE ANTIQUE 2016
Audio CD$85.56
The Third FrontierThe Third Frontier
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Pohjola Records
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UtopianistiUtopianisti
Lusti Music & Arts
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UTOPIANISTI discography


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UTOPIANISTI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 16 ratings
Utopianisti
2011
4.03 | 19 ratings
Utopianisti II
2013
4.05 | 97 ratings
The Third Frontier
2016
3.62 | 10 ratings
Brutopianisti
2017

UTOPIANISTI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

UTOPIANISTI Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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UTOPIANISTI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Third Frontier by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 97 ratings

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The Third Frontier
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars Third time is a charm for UTOPIANISTI as they reach the pinnacle of their creative energies on THE THIRD FRONTIER. Once again band leader and head honcho Markus Pajakkala seeks out another cast of musical talent for a whole new jazz-rock fusion experience that reels the listener in with heavy horn-laden hooks and groovy driving percussive rhythms and delivers a sonic splendorous jazzy journey through the jungles of sound. While the previous album had a whopping 31 musicians and vocalists clogging up every possible nanosecond of the album, this one was trimmed down to a mere 7 instrumentalists and two additional vocalists. While the other albums were self released this one found a home on the Pohjola Records label, former label of none other than the legend Pekka Pohjola himself. THE THIRD FRONTIER refines all of the ideas, compositional styles and genre blending to perfection. One of the reasons this album works so well is that much of the material was played live previously allowing the band members to simmer the material down into a scrumptious consummation of content. Gone is the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach and instead we have a perfectly balanced jazz-rock fusion album that still channels the zeitgeist of classic 70s fusion while remaining steadfastly contemporary replete with outstanding musicianship crafted with crystal clear production and mixing. The musicians on THE THIRD FRONTIER basically recorded this album live in a cabin by a lake in the Finnish countryside where they were all entrenched in the charms of their own personal Rancho Relaxo where they ate good food and hit the sauna before bed time. It sounds like my kind of party actually :)

After a psychedelic sounding intro the feisty cover depicting title "Voodoo Mammoths From Neptune" showcases the first seductive swanky sax groove that gently beckons the guitars, keys and bass in a game of tug-of-war to see who can carry the melodic development in a pass the torch kinda way. This whimsical Canterbury styled jazz-rock scene is only one of many jazz styles on display at the Pajakkala sonic museum of jazz-rock. While swing is in no short supply on the album, its dance with psychedelic organ runs on "Dr. Gravity's Evil Plan" is just divinely delicious as the saxes, flutes and clarinets slowly ratchet up the tension to a climax that once dropped brings a fuzz guitar and bass out of the murky din to expose a most satisfying heavy psychedelic rock underpinning. While Canterbury whimsical titles are the name of the game on THE THIRD FRONTIER, further references to the greats like Hatfield and the North come fully into play with the erratic tinkling keyboards on "Universe For Dummies" that also showcases the angelic diva Suvi Väyrynen doing her best Amanda Parsons and adding an extra dimension to the track that takes the wild and groovy bass and drums culminating with a tasty guitar solo in the clouds and above. The following short track follows the Hatfield and the North theme with Dave Stewart inspired keyboards on "White Dwarf" that basically serves as an intro for the next track.

"Life As We Thought We Knew It" gracefully ratchets up the Canterbury styled jazz-rock with psychedelic touches and remains reserved in the tempo as it simply creeps along with oddly shaped time signatures punctuating a rather sparse canvass as the dominate bass and drum groove allows the swing style horn section to blurt out the recurring melody. "A Hundred Rabbits" on the other hand heads into funk rock territory as the bass and guitar deliver the solid rhythmic background with Latin-jazz flavored percussion and a sultry sax sizzling around every musical curve with Suvi Väyrynen once again joining again with her over-the-top siren vocals sending the track into heavenly bliss territory. "Spanking Season" picks up the steam with an avant-jazz-blues groove with a great Captain Beefheart vocal impression by Pharaoh Pirttikangas and is a sequel to the track on Utopianisti II but has different vocals and different musical parts even though it has similar riffs."13 Demons In The Disco Dimension" is my favorite track on the album with a groovin' synth funk basis and hard driving rhythm and addictive melody including vibraphone and marimba that includes the most dazzling guitar solo i've heard on a jazz-fusion album since John McLaughlin dazzled the world in his Mahavishnu Orchestra as Antero Mentu delivers one of the most off-kilter stylistic guitar solos i've heard in a long time. The album closes with the more subdued closer "The Last Reflection" that ends the album with the listener gently coming down from the jazz-fusion heavens and delivered back to Earth in a mellow mint-under-your-sleepy-time-pillow sort of way.

I can understand why some jazz-fusionists may not find this appealing. UTOPIANISTI is all about groovy, catchy melodic rhythmic developments that swing and allow a whole series of instrumental interactions to reach their full potential and may even find it slightly over-calculated in how slick it's all pulled off. I, on the other hand, LOOOOOVE this album and find it to be sheer perfection for what is intended. The grooves and hooks are instantly addictive. The complexities of instrument interplay add layers of sonic tension and there are just enough progressive twists and turns carefully laid out in the right places to make this one extremely satisfying experience. As with the previous two releases, if crazy psychedelic reality distorting jazz-fusion is what you're craving then this won't fill the bill. If you crave a warm and welcoming swinging sultry good time of seasoned musicians having the time of their lives making great music together at a cabin on a lake and creating a diverse palette of retro meets contemporary, then this will not disappoint. Every track on here is carefully crafted and polished to perfection. I can't seem to get enough of this one lately.

 Utopianisti II by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 19 ratings

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Utopianisti II
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars UTOPIANISTI II picks up where the eponymous debut left off only this time main man / band leader Markus Pajakkala got even more ambitious with his number of guest musicians and there are no less than 31, yes! 31(!!!) different vocalists and instrumentalists including an entire big band section and opera singers. The album is completely a studio album and many of the musicians had never even met, so UTOPIANISTI II was truly the studio project of Pajakkala taking his project that he began as a student at Helskinki's Sibelius Academy to the next level. And what a big fat sound this one has! Pajakkala himself plays drums, percussion, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute and alto flute, bass clarinet, mellotron, various ethnic instruments, keys and vibraphone. The rest of the band includes 2 bassists, 4 guitarists, an additional organist, tons of vocals and others who play sitar, marimba, vibraphone, congras, accordion, fiddle, trumpet, trombone and extra saxophones! Whew! No they don't play everything at once! The music is designed for a rotating cast of musicians to play their parts at select times but this is indeed a big band style of jazz-rock fusion so it indeed has a big, fat, beefy sound. Once again the jazz-rock basis is mostly based in easily accessible swing style where groovy, funky rhythms are easily digestible and the avant-garde comes in with the other instruments interacting. Although strange time signatures and other-worldly segments aren't totally eschewed, this type of sound rests squarely in hooking you and taking you for a ride.

Right from the beginning with "Mekonium Fist" it's apparent that this album is a huge step up from the first with not only more palatable grooves and rhythms but by the sheer force of the musicians on board. The beat is strong and so is the brass. This first track comes off as some 90s swing revival on steroids only has a heavy rock guitar added to the mix with a sizzling guitar solo that could rightfully grace any particular heavy metal sound. The second track "The Vultures Were Hungry" plays a rather Diablo Swing Orchestra move and adds a group of opera singers to the big band swing section only they up DSO and have not only female divas but a male baritone as well! The tracks are quite varied and laid out quite well so the listener remains thoroughly entertained. Next up is the tender starting "Pohjola" which is obviously a tribute to the great Pekka Pohjola in not only the title but in jazz-fusionist compositional style taking the music back to the 70s complete with appropriate organ runs and the proper zeitgeist touches. The next track "Tango Succubus Pt 2" changes things up totally and as you can probably guess is a tango only with a male opera singer and vibraphones joined by the brass section. And such is the entire album, chock full of hitherto unthinkable possible fusion where the world is a grocery store and UTOPIANISTI II is the shopping cart where all of the genres and styles play together awaiting check out.

While UTOPIANISTI II is a major step up from the less ambitious debut, this one suffers from being bloated with way too much of a good thing with a whopping time length of near 79 minutes of jazz-fusion doing a dance with almost every type of musical genre imaginable. Inevitably unless done to perfection an album this long loses steam at times. For example, certain tracks like the traditional Finnish folk track "Kynttilöitäkin Vain Yksi" sound out of place and frankly unnecessary as do some of the lesser tracks that fail to have strong hooks. Not to mention that some of the tracks just don't gel so well next to each other. Despite the album not being perfect however Pajakkala paints the picture of what jazz-fusion dreams are made of. Great care is paid to the details with a crystal clear production and so much creative prowess lurks around every corner that it becomes dizzifying. Not only are there references to the jazz-fusion and swing greats of the past but surprises such as the Captain Beefheart inspired segments on "Spanking Time." There are plenty of tributes to jazz greats themselves with John Coltrane being heavily represented as well. Some tracks like "Mechanoid Makeout Music" show not only a Canterbury type of whimsy but the music itself is quite unorthodox with a jittery almost Latin-jazz rhythmic type of freneticism with an Ornette Coleman type of free-jazz sax attack. "U.L.J.C. (The Unnecesssary Leftover Jam Compilation)" that ends the album is quite fun as is this album for the most part. While UTOPIANISTI II isn't perfect by any means but there is more than enough strong material on this one to entice any enthusiastic jazz-fusion freak out there and while not as well polished as the followup "The Third Frontier," UTOPIANISTI II is an extremely strong set of eclectic numbers just waiting to blow your mind.

 Utopianisti by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.68 | 16 ratings

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Utopianisti
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars UTOPIANISTI is the project of Markus Pajakkala emerging from Tampere, Finland where he hunts down the absolute most brilliant musicians from every nook and cranny of the musical world and gives a serious boost to the jazz-rock fusion scene with some of the most addictive creative compositions that i've experienced this decade. Every album is designed for a rotating cast of musicians on each album. While the project only began in 2010, fertile grounds were afoot and the project released it's very first eponymous album the following year. While Pajakkala appears alone on the album cover, this is hardly a one man show but includes a huge cast of no less than 18 musicians covering bass, guitar, sitar, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, clarinet, alto sax, trumpet, trombone, french horn, accordion, fiddle, violin, viola and cello. However when it comes to writing the music itself, this is Pajakkala's baby and he plays band directer much like the role of Frank Zappa in the day. This album is his early work that emerged as a school project while he was studying music at the Sibelius Academy, a prestigious music school in Helsinki.

Despite being a mere debut, Pajakkala had a firm grip on his vision and worked it out meticulously. While his main instruments are the flute and saxes, on this one he also plays drums, keyboards and contributes vocals as well where they show up. The music is mostly based in jazz-rock fusion but this is really a smorgasbord of genres that incorporate everything from Balkan gypsy, klezmer and heavy rock to heavy doses of experimental touches. Tracks range from the heavy rock oriented "Plutonium First" that has a rather 50s rock 'n' roll feel to it with a heavy brass and rock section making it feel more like a 70s TV adventure show theme to the funky bass chop led "Avaruuden Shammaanit" which sounds like a swing band got a sudden itch to incorporate 60s style funk into the mix although the jazzy time signatures keep it all in the grounds of challenging music despite the instantly addictive grooves. While most tracks are fairly upbeat with heavy percussive and bass driven rhythms accompanied by heavy brass section, a few tracks like "Waltz For FZ" are more laid back without feeling too slow or sappy.

I have to admit that i'm not as keen on this debut since my UTOPIANISTI journey began with perfection of "The Third Frontier." While everything on this debut is extremely professional and well executed, the album as a whole doesn't come off as outstanding as the following releases. While i'm totally impressed that this album was basically a school project brought to fruition via the passionate conduits of quite the number of musicians involved, i don't think the compositions are as well developed and of the caliber that the next couple albums would include. This one has plenty of excellent fusion ideas stirring in the pot but no one has quite turned up the heat enough just yet to fully unify the possibilities that can be heard in the nascent processes. Still though, an impressive debut that paves the way for things to only get better. Personally i'd probably skip this and head straight to the second album modestly titled "UTOPIANISTI II" since most of the ideas presented here are present and perfected later. It should also be stated that this is melodic jazz with syncopation, dissonance and other jazzy characteristics but much more on the accessible side of the fence with groovy, funky rhythms that are designed to be addictive upon first listening. Those seeking a psychedelic detachment from reality should look elsewhere.

 Brutopianisti by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.62 | 10 ratings

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Brutopianisti
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars UTOPIANISTI is quite the unique act and one with which i have become quite the fan in relatively short time based solely on 2016's stellar performances on "The Third Frontier" which found a new lease on the whole jazz-rock fusion meets brutal avant-prog thing. This project is led by the multi-instrumentalist Markus Pajakkala who specializes in saxophones, flutes, clarinets, keys and percussion. While on previous albums which consisted of whole ensembles of musicians churning out quirky rhythms and Rock In Opposition melodies, the newest release BRUTOPIANISTI seems to be more of a solo project by Pajakkala with only a handful of extras on board helping out in expanding the vocal range along with a few synth parts. Instrumentally speaking this is basically the Markus Pajakkla show as he plays drums, bass clarinet, soprano sax, xylophone and various flutes.

If you are expecting another slice of that ridiculously, superbly orchestrated avant-prog dancing in the jazz-fusion arenas of prog heaven then look elsewhere because this album goes in a completely different direction and displays a modern day trend of a quickening that is increasingly blurring the lines between metal, jazz, prog rock and ethnic world music. This music slaps you on the face from the very first frenetic drumbeats of "Gróyul Ghóul Ghò" which combine a frenetic grindcore metal groove with Tuvan style throat singing as well as death metal growls! Despite the extreme metal feel to the whole thing, there are no signs of either guitar or bass guitar in the mix as the bass clarinet and other wind instruments pick up the rhythmic aspects of the music while screams, growls and other strange vocal utterings decorate the soundscape. This short little release barely clocks in over the half hour mark but packs a punch in its ruthless intensity and power punk attack.

While all this craziness unfolds, it sounds like the sax, flutes and bass clarinet borrow a lot from world influences ranging from Klezmer to traditional Chinese music as well as the aforementioned throat singing performed like a pro by Sampo Salonen. While the drums sound totally programed, it actually adds another layer of strangeness to the overall sound as it makes me think of such electronic wizards as Amon Tobin or other IDM (intelligent dance music) artists like Squarepusher (showing off his indietronica talents from his other project Poutatorvi). Between the metal intensity of the vocals, the electronic relentlessness along side with brutal avant-prog time signatures laced with swinging jazzy melodies and ethnic undertones with psychedelic twists and turns, we're left with a very demanding listen indeed but not one that is too alienating even upon first listen. There is a firm sense of balance on BRUTOPIANISTI as not to overwhelm the listener with too much at any given moment.

BRUTOPIANISTI is certainly a curve ball thrown at us in the discography of UTOPIANISTI, not only in terms of how quickly it was released after the previous album as prog oriented artists of this magnitude often take many years to polish new albums into perfection, but also in how utterly different it is from their previous offerings. I would imagine that for those who don't take a liking to this one because it strays too far too fast from the previous efforts will probably be assured that this will not likely be the style that Pajakkala intends to continue ad infinitum but rather a playful little side project that needed to be released. Be assured for as different as this album is, it is chock full of brilliant ideas mixing and melding their way into pure brilliance. Tracks such as "Hóllò" deliver a percussive beat that sounds like a warehouse of fireworks that caught on fire with lysergic ambience mellowing it out and "Zhími Bàgi Dá" with death metal growls and bass clarinet quickly morphing into an elves' LSD party on Neptune sounds as otherworldly as the fictional language titles. This is truly bizarre stuff that will either reel you in instantly like an unfortunate bass on Lake Michigan or repel you like a mosquito from freshly deeted body in the malaria zone. Either way you won't think that you've heard this before even from UTOPIANISTI itself but regardless it will leave some sort of impression. For me, i'm digging this one a lot!

 The Third Frontier by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 97 ratings

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The Third Frontier
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

5 stars The next (third) album from the incredibly talented Finnish avant jazz composer/bandleader, Markus Pajakkala. I find myself liking this album much better than the previous albums because of it's conhesive flow. On II each and every song sounded and felt so different--which makes a lot of sense considering the use of completely different musicians on each and every song. Also, the increased presence of the operatic vocalization of female vocalist Suvi Väyrynen (on three songs) gives the album a bit of a Zeuhl (UNIVERSAL TOEM ORCHESTRA) or Canterbury (AMANDA PARSONS, ELIZABETH GASKIN and THE NORTHETTES) flavor--which I love. I just think Markus has probably matured, clarified his vision, and polishing his songs as well or even better than before (he has always shown impeccable attention to detail in the engineering room).

1. "Voodoo Mammoths From Neptune" (4:25) has such clarity in its sound production! It is an odd, cinematic piece with a nicely extended introductory section which allows the listener to get hooked in for the ride. Simply stunning sound! (9/10) 2. "Dr. Gravity's Evil Plan" (4:01) treads more into cinematic jazz like a good spy thriller--or a spoof of a whodunnit. Great ensemble timing opens before multiple trumpets are given solo lines--at the same time! At the end of the second minute some nice organ play bridges into the next section. (Again, the clarity of sound distinction is remarkable!) Awesome organ play gives way to flute while the background ensemble keeps things so tightly glued together! How Markus gets this kind of collaboration from his band is remarkable! Awesome, simple bass line near the forefront holds it all together so well. (10/10)

3. "Universe For Dummies" (5:52) opens with some staccato arpeggi from the electric bass before the wonderful vocalise of Suvi Väyrynen betrays the composer's Canterbury intentions. Great weave of some quite disparate threads--like from horns, vibraphone and electric guitar--breaks into full force at the one minute mark. Very much like a song from INNER EAR BRIGADE. Great soli (and from some odd instrumental choices/sounds) parade around the foreground while bass and organ continue tip-toeing around with the foundational bob and weave. Truly an astounding song! (10/10)

4. "White Dwarf" (1:24) slows things down as an electric piano (Rhodes?) solos slowly before being joined by reed instruments. Cool sound! (9/10)

5. "Life As We Thought We Knew It" (4:55) opens with a metronomic electric piano riff which is built upon by horns, vibes, guitars and cymbals. Very pretty. At 1:32 the volume turns up though the play of the horn section gives it all a kind of CHICAGO feel--if however briefly. At 2:38 things get more serious. This could be right off of FROGG CAFÉ's 2010 classic, The Bateless Edge (which makes me beg for the presence of some lyrics--like "Terra Sancta"). Nice song! (9/10)

6. "A Hundred Rabbits" (5:03) opens with a little funk coming from the rhythm section of bass, drums, congas, vibes and clavinet. These are shortly joined by horns and woodwinds and, a bit later, the synth-horn-like vocalizations of Suvi. Things are toned down a bit toward the end of the second minute to allow for the isolation of a flute solo. HUBERT LAWS would be proud! A little bass solo bridges our way into a protracted solo from a seething electric guitar. HENDRIX would be proud! Awesomely woven into the funky horns until it finally fades away into the background so that Suvi and the horns can take us out. Awesome song! (10/10)

7. "Spanking Season" (2:33) the first song I heard from the album has vocals! Odd, cabaret-like vocals--not unlike the stylings of HUMBLE GRUMBLE, PINGVINORKESTERN, KNIFEWORLD or MAJOR PARKINSON. Fun, funny, laughable and eminently clever song! Great solo from a 'Space Invaders' synthesizer toward the end. (9/10)

8. "13 Demons In The Disco Dimension" (3:12) opens with some odd radio clip before a campy melody and odd time rhythm establish a kind of Zappa-esque envirnoment--sophisticated, highly disciplined, and sleek. Not my favorite song but I truly respect and understand it. (8/10)

9. "The Last Reflection" (7:00) Has a bluesy soul and proggy feel to it, as the whole band seems to ride as one wave while the drums are free to play beneath! The delicate part in the fourth minute which opens up space for the vocalise soloations of the gorgeous voice of Suvi Väyrynen is perfection! Great restraint is shown throughout this song from both the composer and his musicians. Even the climax starting at 5:15 shows great emotion and sympathetic feel from all: horns, bass, drums, organ, electric guitar--I can really feel it from all of them! Amazing! (10/10)

All in all, Markus Pajakkala has packaged together a masterpiece of incredibly well contrived and well executed theatric jazz. Consistently, this is one of the best ensemble performances of very sophisticated music that I've heard in a while. Definitely one of the funnest albums of the year (so far).

Five stars; a true masterpiece of progressive music.

 The Third Frontier by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 97 ratings

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The Third Frontier
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

5 stars UTOPIANISTI is a Finnish act led by composer and sax /flute /clarinet /additional keyboards & percussion player Markus Pajakkala. The albums No. 1 and 2 were quite patchy, all-over-the-place kind of works in which the musicians varied almost from track to track. In 2014 Utopianisti grew from a recording project into a stable live band and started the real action with a successful Mexican tour. I myself have also witnessed the group's cheerul energy in their hometown Tampere last year. It is evident that this third album benefits from the tight band, and it was even recorded mostly as a live in the studio except for some instruments and solos. All material is new on this 38½-minute album that is a whole lot more focused set of complex jazz- rock.

Pajakkala tells in the publisher's info sheet how he wants to bring together all things he loves in music: the overwhelming energy, tight combo playing, instrumental acrobatics, challenging harmonies, influences from especially FRANK ZAPPA and PEKKA POHJOLA, wild groove, the search for beauty from unexpected places and so on, but at the same time staying away from self- indulgent difficulty. He's truly succeeded in his goals. Must say that the preceding albums contain some hilarious stuff I'm not so fond of, underlining the will to be humorous. Now all nine tracks grow from a very solid musical substance and I enjoy them all, with one exception though: 'Spanking Season' features quite brutal vocals by Pharaoh Pirttikangas and I always skip that brief track.

Female voice (of Suvi Väyrynen) colours three tracks nicely. My clear favourite is 'The Last Reflection' that features the vocalese element and operates on the more emotional side than several uptempo tracks full of rhythmic complexity. I'm proud to say that the man I've changed few words with makes fantastic and excellently played music that any lover of fusion by Zappa, Pekka Pohjola, PASSPORT etc. from all over the globe will find deeply gratifying. Although it's not a perfect album, and also it could be a bit longer, I believe now is an appropriate time to use the rare full rating. Remember the name UTOPIANISTI!

 Utopianisti II by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 19 ratings

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Utopianisti II
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars (My apologies that a whole year passed before I finally reviewed this album.) UTOPIANISTI is the artist name of Finnish multi-instrumentalist and composer Markus Pajakkala. He plays primarily drums and reeds, plus additional keyboards, vibes, programming and "various ethnic instruments". The debut (2011) made it very clear that music can be simultaneously funny and technically impressive; that it feels good for the musician to follow creative madness wherever it leads and to give 110 % commitment to it all. Naturally the listener is free to think that the results are sometimes rather irritating, but the sheer joy of music cannot be denied. This nearly 79-minute second album is even more ambitious, fuller of ideas and containing bigger arrangements. And with a charming hand-drawn cover art!

The tracks 1-8 are the album's main body "which took a year to carefully form and craft itself", and in contrast to that, the next four pieces under the moniker UTOPIANISTI MEETS BLACK MOTOR & JON BALLANTYNE were composed in a day and recorded live at JJ Studio, Tampere, August 2nd, 2012. And as a "bonus track" there's nearly 10-minute, breathtaking 'U.L.J.C. (The Unnecessary Leftover Jam Session)' which definitely sounds better than its title. But let's return to the start, to the main tracks each with a different line-up of guest musicians.

'Mekonium Fist' (according to the foreword "inspired by our first diaper change where four hands weren't enough") is hectic and fast. 'The Vultures Were Hungry' mixes opera vocals with ZAPPA- like avant-rock. 'Pohjola' is probably the best track, a gorgeous Fusion piece in the spirit of PEKKA POHJOLA to whom it is dedicated. It stays more serious than the album as a whole, without losing freshness and certain musical joy. 'Tango Succubus pt. 2' is sung in Finnish by opera baritone(?) Waltteri Torikka. This very angular piece featuring also an accordion reminds a lot of the 90's cult band HÖYRY-KONE.

On the meaty jazz-rock number 'The Forest of the Bald Witch' there are delicious contributions for e.g. flute, organ and guitar. Like three other tracks, 'Bisphenol A' features The Utopianisti Big Band, and has an emphasis on heavy brass and programming. It is my least favourite, as well as the 7th one, a hilarious, ethnically oriented (Balkanesque) tune featuring accordion and fiddle among others. ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT, the instrumental descendant of Höyry-Kone, did enough of this kind of silly crap (sorry).

If there had been only these eight tracks, I wouldn't much like this album with so many annoying things in it. The live tracks featuring Jon Ballantyne on piano and electric piano are airier, jazzier and more thoughtful, in other words quite free of the silliness. With a suitable use of skip button you'll have a wonderful musical trip with this extraordinarily brave release. My subjective rating would be three stars, but for the masterful musicianship and some amazing highlights it deserves four.

 Utopianisti II by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 19 ratings

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Utopianisti II
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Another submission of quirky avant music that people are allowing to be included into the "progressive rock" genre with similarities to Pingvorinkestern, Humble Grumble, UneXpect, Atomic Ape, Major Parkinson, Knifeworld, and even the modern Univers Zero--though Utopianisti is much more closely aligned to true jazz, if of the avant-garde stylings. All these groups are very talented, very tight, and very entertaining. But, gone are the smooth, slow developing songs--especially the long-playing "epics." Now seems to be the new era of staccato, stop and start, avant-garde and theatric production. It's as if today's bands are trying to pack nine minutes of music, story, and emotion into four minute songs. Is this the new prog?

My favorite songs include: "Pohjola" (8:09); "Bisphenol A" (4:11); "The Sundays of Love and Peace" (5:14);"Kynttiloitakin Vain Yksi" (6:16), and my favorite; "U.L.J.C. The Unnecessary Leftover Jam Compilation" (9:38).

A masterpiece of modern avant-jazz composition and performance. Upbeat, quirky, and unusual. However, this is just not my favorite kind of music.

3.5 stars rated up for quality.

 Utopianisti II by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 19 ratings

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Utopianisti II
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Utopianisti's second artifact for the music markets resonates vibrantly, featuring a vast concentration of other local musicians, reaching nearly strength of thirty talented players (!). With the vivid bombast of the record´s personal style, having elements from jazz fusion, prog rock standards, folk music leanings of different cultures, avant-gardist solutions and even some heavy metal licks, I believe the owl, rabbit and fox presented on the cover could blow out the Musicians of Bremen to some other fable. Frank Zappa has been mentioned as a source of inspiration for the album: an artist certainly being an idol for Mr. Pajakkala, as there was even a song credited for his honor on Utopianisti's debut album. However this fascination has not been a motive to mimic the style of Frank, but to create something own with similar courage and intelligence as the mentioned innovator.

The album seems to be segmented in three phases, starting with Pajakkala's solo own compositions. Begin is rough; A song inspired by messy diaper change oppresses the listener immediately with trumpeting stampede, associating for me due their tonal resemblances to Stabath Akish's rampage, and having hints of Kauhukakara's cavalcade of different animal forms expressed through logical sonic idioms. Some heavier guitar driven sequences blend in pleasantly to the horn dominated starting motives, and turn the feeling from cinemascopic feelings towards new territories. The second track brought me some memories of Höyry-Kone's mixture of sung classical music and heavy prog or Zappa's vocal classical sequences from the film "200 Motels". This song also features two uprising operatic singers, soprano Suvi Väyrynen and baritone Waltteri Torikka. The third song "Pohjola" ("Northern Land") is a mournful and beautiful lamentation for the late Pekka Pohjola. "Tango Succubus pt.2" reminds then again the more disorderly second composition of the record, but the fifth track "The Forest of The Bald Witch" rose for me as one of the highlights of the album, having some Jethro Tull reminding motives, fine guitar solo explorations and Mellotron carpets decorating the black woods of the hair-lost conjurer. The organic sounds and compositional varieties are first countered with the electronic minimalism of "Bisphenol A", which later succeeds to annihilate the presumptions from the song by discarding the electronic pulsing with a electric guitar power and weird tricks from the arrangement level. "Kynttilöitäkin on vain yksi" rejoices in acoustical, almost klezmer oriented moods, and the final track on this first phase of the movie...no album sums up the heavy metal jazzcore fusion adventures, and passes the microphone to Finland's own Captain Beefheart, Mr. Pharaoh Pirttikangas.

The second phase of the record locates at the JJ Studio in Tampere, being recorded with group Black Motor and pianist Jon Ballantyne. Possibly the setup forced the studio session master Pajakkala on direr proposition with levels of dominance and risk-taking impulsiveness on the takes captured with live playing method. This area oscillates with more relaxed feelings and the already familiar aggressive gonzo-attacks than the carefully recorded studio takes; "The Sundays of Love and Peace", "Too Many Eyeholes" and "Derelicts of Space" linger on the bar stand with serene jazzy lounging, only "Mechanoid Makeout Music" blends more the avant elements familiar from the record's first phase. I would recommend the featured group Black Motor to anybody interested in fine free jazz, the group has reached very convincing merits at Finland through several releases, collaborative projects and awards.

The third phase of this trip is a long improvisation mash-up, featuring some interesting raga-rock contemplations from Mr. Mentu known also from the local group Aalto. Ca. ten minutes long afterquake sums up the two first phases of this album, and leave an appetite for later listens. Personally the softer pieces from the middle of the record were first easier to digest, but having history of rejoicing capabilities of late Mr. Zappa's chaotic productions, the more vivid rootin' tootins' opened up after some listening.

So according my own judgment, this CD is a warm-hearted and personal recording from talented musicians, meeting certainly the standards of global interest from direct local activity and presence is on the edge of your current awareness. Also the goal of the composer of doing music by avoiding some conventional rules of music and thus reaching new angles to sonic arts is in my opinion reached. What matters more to me is a hope of honesty on art creation process, a spiritual factor I believe shimmering from this album. During year 2014 there should be also a line-up formed from this collective ready to perform on concert venues, and it would be delightful to see them doing their thing on a stage.

 Utopianisti by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.68 | 16 ratings

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Utopianisti
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Utopianisti is a Finnish project of multi-instrumentalist Markus Pajakkala; the second album has just been released (I'll review that later). This debut is amazing and I hope that Utopianisti gets the international recognition it deeply deserves. Avestin's review is very good and I fully agree upon its each comment. Indeed this is music that gets your body shake and makes you feel happy, at least if you listen to it in a suitable mood. Very far from being dead serious! The lively, joyful spirit catches the listener too. Pajakkala is rather young chap but what a talent he is! He plays drums and other percussion, several saxes, flute and keyboards (plus sings on one track) and he's responsible of the arrangements that often approach the big band. All the music is composed by him. Since Utopianisti is not a touring band, he has recruited all the guests for the needs of each individual track, just like Robert Wyatt did after his body injury. The old ace Anssi Tikanmäki has co- produced the album.

'Plutonium Fist' (and its half-minute distorted intro 'Alkusoitto') is like a high speed twist with the emphasis on drums and saxophone. 'Grain de l'âme' is one of my favourites, it shows Pajakkala's versatility as composer and arranger, as it features also more delicate parts starring flute and keyboards. 'Avaruuden shamaanit' (The Space Shamans) is a funky tune built on a baritone saxophone phrase. I find it a bit boring in its repetitiveness.

'Waltz for FZ' (meaning Frank Zappa, naturally) is another highlight. A melodic, lively and richly arranged composition mostly in danceable mid-tempo. I hear some Pekka Pohjola influence. J-P Jääskeläinen has a little vibraphone solo, and on the next short track 'Castro Brothers' he gets the lead on marimba and xylophone.

'Kärry' (Carriage) belongs to my least favourites; I'm not very fond of the funk flavour present on many tracks. 'Markus-sedän letkeämpi klezmer' (The More Easy-Going Klezmer of Uncle Markus; by the way Markus-setä was a legendary person who made radio programmes for children many decades ago) is a fast and playful track with many surprises along the way, such as a sitar/flute dialogue. 'Bordeaux' brings some old-fashioned continental elegance, featuring Markus Luomala on accordion.

'Hopeinen kyy' (Silver Viper; a wordplay on 'Hopeinen kuu', a classic Finnish schlager of Italian origin) is again fast, almost frenzy. A wonderful flute part, perhaps a nod to Ian Anderson? 'Sull on mies joka planeetalla' (You Have a Man on Every Planet) is the only vocal-song, let's say it's a hilarious, swinging rock'n'roll retro-schlager. 'Tuonelan lautturi' (The Ferryman of ... well, Tuonela is the land of death in Kalevala) is yet another funky track with the baritone sax taking lead, but it has also a spooky synth.

Time will tell how this music will taste after becoming more familiar. Either one learns to appreciate all its details even more, or the happiness so strongly present on the first listening will lose some of its spark. Anyway, if you're looking for Zappa-influenced upbeat jazz-rock, check this one out immediately!

Thanks to evolver for the artist addition. and to Eetu Pellonpää for the last updates

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