Lark Echo - In the texture - 2003
I raise my toast and clasp my hands
And hope that you will understand"
(lyrics from “Umwerthung”)
“In the Texture” is the third album from Lark Echo of Finland. Lark Echo is actually P.J. Harkkola, who made this album all by himself: words, music, vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, sound samples, sequencer programming, wrapper design and financial calculations :-). With twelve compositions Lark Echo shows at least two very different sides of his musical qualities, perhaps even three.
The first one is that of keyboard-driven, classically inspired, melodious, symphonic and rather solemn musical pieces. Some of them have a baroque style with many arpeggio, especially the opening track "Umwerthung" (3:10) and track 4 "When the evening has faded" (4:38). Nice songs, where the typical vocal sound of P.J. Harkkolo fits in very well, because it prevents them from sounding too mealy-mouthed. The latter track also gives us some gliding guitar notes that remind of Steve Hackett while playing in early Genesis. The ghost of Genesis' guitar and keyboard sound is also very much present in the highpoint of the album, the concluding track and longest piece of the album "The U.S.E. 2019"(8:37). It is a very nice varied piece, where even Keith Emerson’s piano and organ sound comes by. Another very good track is “Welfare” (3:43), with nice in unison orchestral keyboards and guitar, pleasant bass runs and an interesting break.
A variation on this style are a few compositions that show a more progressive touch, like the short "The Nihil" (1:52) and "The darkest hour" (3:12).
The second and very different style, regarding composition and performance, shows guitar-driven rock pieces with now and then screaming vocals, like in "Mind your head" (5:22), a sort of underground song, and "Production line" (4:52).
I think it's a pity that the styles of the compositions on this album are so extremely different, especially regarding the vocals. This makes it very hard to appreciate it as a whole. I very much have the need to program my CD player so that these tracks are skipped while playing this album. Perhaps this is done consciously, because Lark Echo does not want to fit in to the obvious patterns, as he has shown earlier with his previous albums. Hence probably the title of the album "In the texture".
Nevertheless Lark Echo shows the potential to make a true progressive symphonic album and I very much hope that his next release will give us a more consistent product.