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SVART: Present The Liisankatu Broadcast Session Series

Added 21 March 2016, 8:13 AM
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According to one theory, Queen Nefertiti's tomb lies behind the posterior wall of Tut-Ankh-Amun's tomb. This explains the relative archaic smallness on Tut's tomb: it is but an antechamber to something far more valuable and amazing. All untold treasure, the heavy and musty air of the dynasties, the forgotten and unknown… All this hangs in that darkness, waiting to be discovered.

In context with Finnish popular music and jazz of the 1970s, the Liisankatu sessions are Nefertiti's tomb, compared to the relatively small official output of these bands. Never bootlegged and known up until now only to a few faithful servants - and largely thought to have been lost forever - the remaining recorded sessions offer a hitherto unrivaled look into the state of Finnish jazz and progressive rock between the years 1972-1977. Imagine if the sessions recorded by John Peel had only recently been discovered, and you get an idea of the cultural weight of what is being brought into the light of day here.

Known for their lavish and meticulous vinyl reissues - and, of course, original releases of Finnish and global underground metal and indie - the Turku-based Finnish label Svart Records has truly unearthed a treasure trove here. In addition to the quality of the material,Svart bring their usual breathtaking attention to detail to this series, including a specially commissioned series of cover art from esteemed Finnish graphic artist Jussi Karjalainen, who pays homage to the era with his covers that hint at retro, but are still irrevocably modern.

Originally recorded as broadcasts by YLE (the national radio service Yleisradio, "the Finnish BBC"), the thirty-four Liisankatu sessions are a genuine "who's who" of Finnish prog and jazz. Interestingly, anyone with even basic knowledge of the era's biggest bands will recognize familiar names at play within these obscure bands.

The two rival godheads Tasavallan Presidentti and Wigwam are naturally present, but equally impressive are sets from lesser known bands like Taivaanvuohi, which showcase the early talents of veteran Finnish musician Sami Hurmerinta and famed sax and flute player Pepa Päivinen, both freshly out of their teens for these sessions. Taking their cue from Hendrix and Zappa, they were a popular live band, but never made a studio record. For this reason alone, this release is immensely important.

On the jazz side, the sessions present such bands like Unisono Quartet (once home to both Hasse Walli, Nono Söderberg, and Pekka Pohjola) and Taivaantemppeli, which includes Wigwam guitarist Pekka ”Rekku” Rechardt in its lineup. Tasavallan Presidentti's legendary lead guitarist Jukka Tolonen presents his Ramblin' Jazz Band, which includes such familiar players as Ronnie Österberg and Pekka Pohjola. The arrangements differ wildly from recorded versions due to the usage of two drummers and two bassists.

s such, these sessions provide the missing link between jazz and prog, explaining through spirited performances - and largely unknown collaborations - the instrumental prowess and dexterity of these players and bands. What's best, these sessions show these exceptional bands playing for the moment in front of a hundred strong studio audience, not weighed down by the tedium of studio recording, and thus somehow miraculously managing to capture the best of both worlds: studio performances in front of a live audience.

Hear a 45-minute sampler of the Liisankatu sessions exclusively HERE.
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