Finnish prog band Malady’s self-titled debut for Svart Records back in 2015 marked them out as someone to watch out for, marrying hard hard and prog rock with jazz and folk, but follow up ‘Toinen Toista’ manages to push things one step further. It keeps the vintage, classic Finnish (heralded by the likes of Wigwam) prog, a rock solid sense of adventure and ambition, and wraps it up in a collection of beautifully melodic and atmospheric songs.
Much of the music is instrumental, and where Babak Issabeigloo does sing, he does so in his native tongue. That adds to the mystery of the tracks and their meaning, although lyricist and drummer Juuso Jylhanlehtu sheds light on its meaning, saying “this album is open to many interpretations and laden with symbolism, but at its core lays the basic questions of being human and the transient nature of things”.
Opener and title track Toinen Toista sets the tone of the record, Scandinavian folk music bleeding into jazz and lounge funk backings, driven from Ville Rohiola’s Hammond Organ, a definite presence throughout the record, and the twin guitars of Issabeigloo & Tony Björkman trading spidery, wispy lines and riffs throughout, as the instruments smudge together over the slightly more motorik rhythm section, the beautifully hushed vocals only adding to the hue.
With the exceptions of the short interlude Laulu sisaruksille, a stately renaissance dance from the strings, the album continues in much the same manner, but at only five tracks, there has to be a centrepiece to the record, and that comes in the form of the last track – the near 23 minute opus Nurja puoli. At one point vast and another intimate, the track quietly moves, its eastern wind (and flute!) gently blowing over the jazz/funk of the track, its huge spaces allowing the band to improvise freely and fully, conversing with eachother and creating something that seems to float by much quicker than it actually does. Perhaps its the acute lyricism of the melodies or the sunny vibe, but it certainly elevates the whole album into the ‘must have’ end of things.
A beautifully crafted, interesting and engaging journey from beginning to end. It’s out on Svart Records on March 30th.