‘It’s like DJ Shadow suddenly went surf’, there’s a tagline guaranteed to grab one’s attention. The album this is referring to is The Enchanted Guitar of Pekka Laine, the solo debut from Pekka Laine, a journalist/film-maker of award-winning documentaries for radio and television, a musician and member of the bands The Hypnomen and The Fanatic IV.
If you were handed a copy of this album and looked at the artwork with no prior knowledge about the artist, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a recently unearthed treasure from the 1960’s. The typeface especially, would date the album to that period, while the simple hand-drawn landscape reflects the innocence of that time in stark contrast to the elaborate fantasy worlds later created by prog-rock era artist Roger Dean, or the salacious covers of John Baizley.
For the making of the album Pekka employed the services of influential figures from the Finnish music scene including Esa Pulliainen (of legendary rock ‘n’ roll band Agents) and Toni Liimatta (a highly regarded figure in the world of instrumental music).
The album starts with Deja Vu that sounds a little like The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood gone surf with a lo-fi Elliot Smith melancholy thrown for good measure. Wild Mountain Thyme harks back to another legendary 60’s band The Byrds with shimmering psychedelic guitars and sweet melodies, it’s amazing the level of emotion that can be derived from the music, sans vocals and lyrics. I’m an eternal romantic at heart and Lullaby is an absolutely gorgeous doo wop flavoured number that is dreamy in nature, while the warm production reminds you of long walks with your sweetheart.
This was an intriguing listen and one which even the most seasoned listeners of surf music will be able to appreciate, such were the levels of diversity and creativity on offer…
Lonely Beach starts with the sound of waves gently lapping around but this is far from your standard surf rock song. This is the most experimental track heard on the album so far with the sound of disjointed guitar dropping in and out, intonating the eccentric pioneering work of Joe Meek. L’Enfer Des Cannibales translates as Cannibal Holocaust and one can assume this to be a reference to the controversial 1980 film. What makes the track so intriguing is the blissful and beautiful sounds that contrast so wildly with the horrific imagery of the aforementioned movie, possibly intended, but effective nonetheless.
The Shadows seem to have made an appearance with The Silent Star, catchy pop that you’ll find yourself nodding along to while Midnight At The Lakeside is a slice of mellow ambience that one can lose one-self in. The First Autumn Day is an Ennio Morricone laden number that resembles the excellent Betty Benedeadly EP I reviewed recently. From there we have the short classical guitar work of Solitaire, bringing to mind John Williams’ Cavatina (Theme From The Deer Hunter), which I have to admit never fails to bring a tear to my eye and such, is the implied tragedy of the track’s title.
Early hip-hop/The Wrecking Crew are mentioned in the promo notes as influences and these make an appearance on penultimate track Meadow with some spaced out funky guitar lines. Last track Enchanted has an otherworldly spacey sensation and reminds me of the closing scene of Julian Temple’s Earth Girls Are Easy when the spaceship rides back out into space, leaving one with a sense of optimism and hope.
This was an intriguing listen and one which even the most seasoned listeners of surf music will be able to appreciate, such were the levels of diversity and creativity on offer. A recommended purchase and one to add to add your collection.
Scribed by: Reza Mills