Scapa Flow - Uuteen Aikaan. 1980 Finland


Scapa Flow - Uuteen Aikaan. 1980 Kompass

CD reissue: 2010 Rocket Records

LP reissue: 2014 Viima

Packaging: As stated in the blog post for Fantasia: Rocket Records has become the de facto leader in Finnish progressive rock obscurities. They focus on other genres, but fortunately they cover what the UMR loves - and they seem to have no regard for popularity. And, best of all, they do a GREAT JOB at mastering. Only bummer is the lack of bonus tracks. The timings provided are from the CD version as they differ from the LP (and these are also shown on the CD). I've had the original LP since the 90s that I obtained in a trade - and will likely keep for the duration. Translated liner notes in English provided at the bottom.

Notes:
* 1. Valmiina Heräämään 4:28
2. Salaisuuksien Satiiniverhot 6:17
* 3. Mikä Aamu 6:01
4. Uuteen Aikaan 4:21
5. Tuuleen Kaiverretut Portaat 4:44
* 6. Koi 2:19
* 7. Askel Ylöspäin 6:06

On the surface, Scapa Flow are a folk rock band. But then when you consider the flute, acid guitar leads and organ, it begins to take on a psychedelic folk sound, similar to maybe Carol of Harvest. But that's not quite right either. As you hear the sweet female vocals, one begins to think of the Christian progressive rock movement of Germany in the early 80s - bands like Eden and Credemus. But this isn't a message album, nor Christian - and it's slightly darker in tone. I also tend to think of the airy progressive rock of Sweden's Autumn Breeze, but Scapa Flow are folkier. And there's really no other band from Finland to compare to either. So Scapa Flow, even though they are well within the confines of familiar borders, are somewhat unique. That's a plus.

There are no weak tracks here, and the highlighted ones are only slightly better. One can only wish for more material and extended versions, but it doesn't appear they exist anywhere. 1) is probably the best representative of Scapa Flow's entire sound. If you need Cliff Notes, this would be my pick. 3) & 7) are the most complex and involved of "Uuteen Aikaan"'s seven songs. 6) is my personal favorite from a melody perspective, and I'd love to hear them flesh this out over 7 or 8 minutes.

Translated liner notes (a HUGE thanks to Kai in Finland for these):

"Uuteen aikaan ["into a new age"] from 1980 is one of the most requested Finnish progressive rock CD re-releases. The album received next to no attention on its original release, as did its creator, the group Scapa Flow.

Scapa Flow was formed in Helsinki in 1976. The group traveled down folky and progressive paths, with influences from, among others, Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull and Camel. Live they played mostly their own English-language songs and a couple of Bach covers.

Like other Finnish progressive rock bands in the late 1970s, Scapa Flow were having a hard time with New Wave at the peak of its popularity. However, Chriss Schwindt [one of the original founders of the now bankrupt Love Records] maintained a very liberal release policy with his Kompass Records and he signed Scapa Flow.

Scapa Flow's only album Uuteen aikaan was recorded in spring 1980 and released later that year. Recording line-up comprised Timo Seppänen (guitar), Asko Ahonen (bass), Ismo Järvinen (saxophone, flute), Eero Kolehmainen (keyboards), Leevi Leppänen (drums) and Pia-Maria Noponen (vocals, flute and keyboards). The last three joined the group just before the release. Leppänen replaced earlier drummer Olavi Kyllönen and Kolehmainen Kari Jaksola.

Uuteen aikaan was produced by Lasse Rönkä ja recorded at the Birdland studio in Helsinki. The original English lyrics were translated into Finnish with the help of Seppo Parkkinen and Esko Salervo.

The Back Beat magazine on the group before the album's release: "Scapa Flow's music is carefully composed and thought-out, though solos allow room for some improvisation. Vocals are rather prominent and the group are determined to make their harmonies work. Four of the members sing, so Scapa Flow seem to have a quite versatile range of musical expression."

The Soundi magazine's Hannu Tervaharju reviewed the album. He thought that the lyrics were so fragile and sensitive that they made the love poetry of Tommy Taberman [one of the most popular and syrupy poets at the time] look like letters to a porn magazine [he obviously hadn't paid attention to the title track, then]. Tervaharju wished that Scapa Flow's would make their next album equally beautiful but a little tougher.

The group never got the chance to make a second album, because the record-buying public barely noticed their first. Scapa Flow ended as quietly as they had begun.

After Scapa Flow, Leevi Leppänen has played with the Pekka Pohjola Group, among others, and taught at the Pop-Jazz Conservatory and the Sibelius Academy. Asko Ahonen and Timo Seppänen joined the group Taxi, which released only one single. During the 1980s, Pia-Maria Noponen played with, among others, Limousine, Threshold [semi-progressive electronic rock band who made the album Paradise Now in 1981] and Tavaramarkkinat. She moved to Spain in mid-1980s and died in 1996.

Uuteen aikaan has become a wanted collector's item over the years. A copy in good condition may command a couple of hundred Euro, and copies are far and few between. The CD release is from the original master tapes."

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