Pekka Pohjola
Pohjolla/Zen Master/Rockadillo Records (

cd cover The transcendent electric bassist from Finland has been making records for two plus decades now and this 1997 release shows how good he has gotten at it. Not just a fine bass player, Pohjola also composes and here, his eight original selections reflect basis and drama in an episodic, solidly played, electric/acoustic chamber-rock style. While the rhythms that drive his bass/guitar/piano/keyboard ensemble are at times no-fuss straight up, contrasts in volume dynamics help enrich what is going on throughout. The opener "Rita," for example, climbs an anguished road that evolves into affirming arrival some six minutes later, by way of stealthily chained melodic steps. The other monumental works, "Melkein" (thirteen minutes) and the wryly titled closer "Ordinary Music" (just under twenty minutes), walk short and long stretches of uncomplicated power grooves yet become complicated by emotionally torquing changes of key and attack. There are a variety of moods here, including the circus mayhem of "Suuri kallion ritari" and brass horn dance of "Toy Rock", both of which offset the darker, even menacing, material that follows. But the best track and obvious choice for album title is the petite "Pewit" at the center of the set. Here Pohjola has penned one unforgettable melody, sublimely logical and taut, and worked it over in variation until it issues like some overlooked nugget by an accomplished classical composer. The album's sound is big and forward overall but not without a little shadow and space. These pieces are not excuses to perform solos like so much fusion and progrock, they exist as illustrations of visual/emotional ideas and suggest a masculine music grown up, injected with delicate moments, into elderly substance. - Steve Taylor

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