Lark Echo is the work of one Finnish man, Pasi Kerkola, who does all the instruments and vocals. The work is in the Neo Progressive vein, often touching AOR radio-friendly vibes. I’m reminded of an 80s approach, with programming drums and funky synth sounds. While that sound may not appeal to prog fans, there is quality in Kerkola’s resonant voice and melodious songs that can appeal to those who are looking for something a little lighter to listen to.
All of the songs are pleasant listening and with 17 tracks, there’s plenty for everyone. Keyboards dominate and are well played, but not flagrant. The standout tracks are “Waters”, “Shipwrecked”, “Minority is We”, and “Someday” all have nice keyboard sounds and display Kerkola’s intelligent approach to composition and arrangements. Though simple in concept, the songs have a inviting quality that makes you want to listen again.
What is really missing in the sound mix is the guitar. Many songs simply ache for some heavy riffs, which, given Kerkola’s musicianship, should have been easy enough to execute.
Production wise, the album seems like many self-produced efforts. Clean enough, but somewhat lacking in the bass department. As mentioned before, Kerkola’s voice is good, but needs density. Double tracking or more reverb might have helped in that regard. My greatest criticism (and this is something that’s personal with me), is the programmed drumming. There’s no denying there’s a cooler, synthetic overall sound to Lark Echo that undermines the intention of the music. There do appear to be session musicians that play with Kerkola as evidenced on the EP (see later). He would have been advised to at least bring in a drummer on this recording.
Lark Echo seems to building force for a greater work. “The Progressive Collection 1994-2003” – a demo CDR sent with “Lark Echo”, shows that Mr. Kerkola wants to keep his foot in progressive rock. The songs have more edge thanks to a more up-front guitar, and the song writing is far darker. The second record - melodic and relatively peaceful “Spring”-EP (1996) - was created in the Egotrip studios by the Lark Echo Group: T. Eronen, M. Äijänen, K. Korhonen, J. Lindlöf and P. Herkkola. From the wonderful symphonic orchestrations that are particularly in evidence on the progressive collection, I’m sure we can expect good things from this entity in the future.