SUKELLUSVENE — Vesi- Ja Lintumusiikkia (review)

SUKELLUSVENE — Vesi- Ja Lintumusiikkia album cover Album · 1979 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Matti P
Founded in the early seventies, Finnish band Sukellusvene (= Submarine) already had a colourful past when they spent four days in a recording studio in the autumn of 1978. The result, this sole album with a title meaning Water and Bird Music, was released by then-dying Love Records in May 1979, and it sold 300 copies. For a long time it was a collector's item remembered only by a limited number of people, but Svart Records re-released it with interview-based liner notes (written by yours truly), first on vinyl in 2016, two years later also on CD.

Although the band had performed also vocal songs, their recorded output is entirely instrumental. At this point featuring two guitarists, a keyboard virtuoso, saxophonist-clarinetist and a rhythm section (all members being highly gifted, educated musicians), Sukellusvene created a six-piece album that doesn't much pale in comparison to fusion's leading names such as RETURN TO FOREVER and WEATHER REPORT, or their countryman JUKKA TOLONEN. Sadly the flautist Maikki Talasmo, sister of Lassi's, didn't get the chance to play on the album. Flute would have been a nice addition to the sound.

The opening track composed by guitarist Jukka Mäkinen is called 'Hiilijuna'. That's Finnish for "coal train", hinting at the certain jazz giant. After a classically oriented 3-minute piano intro it starts to groove, several enjoyable solos following each other in a lively and elegant manner. The other guitarist Tapani Tuomanen's melodic composition 'Metsän takaa nousee' is reminiscent of Camel's instrumental stuff. Bassist Pekka Muhli wrote 'Ilmojen halki' (= Through the air) which is a bright and happily jazzy number. Again solos for various instruments appear in turns, always serving the coherence completely; there were no clash of egos in this group.

B-side of the vinyl starts with two pieces written by keyboardist Kari Litmanen. More than the rest of the album, they are spiced with funk, but they still are pure fusion. I'm not a friend of plain funk, but when it's an ingredient of fusion music, it often works really well, like it does here.

The re-release contains also the tracks from the single released the same month as the album. 'Savitaipaleen polkka' is a good-humoured Finnish traditional song. Sukellusvene turned it into a speedy jazz-rock number that really grooves. Within the limited length (2:28) the group manages to include brief solos for electric guitar, organ and alto saxophone. 'Sea Journey' is a cover of a Chick Corea composition. Soprano sax and synths are soloing in turns in this airy, lively and enjoyable piece.

Even with some imperfection in the sonic quality, this album is a delight to a listener of the 70's fusion.
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