Review & Full Album Stream: Malady, Toinen Toista

malady Toinen Toista

[Click play above to stream Malady’s Toinen Toista in its entirety. Album is out this month on Svart Records.]

As with many creative works of substance, be they novels, films, paintings or records, Malady‘s Toinen Toista, in its very beginning moments, takes the time to teach its audience how to engage with it. It would seem to be no coincidence whatsoever that the Helsinki-based classic progressive rockers, who made their self-titled debut (review here) via Svart Records in 2015 and issue the follow-up through the same label, open Toinen Toista with its title-track. At just under seven minutes long (the longest on side A), it allows the Finnish five-piece’s returning lineup of guitarist/vocalist Babak Issabeigloo, guitarist Tony Björkman, bassist Jonni Tanskanen, keyboardist/organist Ville Rohiola and drummer Juuso Jylhänlehto to flesh out the sweet-toned naturalism that made their first record such a joy, while broadening the parameters of sound.

The principal instruction is one of patience. Like much of what follows, “Toinen Toista” gives those who would take it on a chance to become acclimated to the sonic environment surrounding. It’s not until after four minutes in that the first vocals — in Finnish, if it wasn’t clear from the titles — kick in, and when they do,, Issabeigloo greets the fluidity of Mellotron, organ and guitar, the gentle wash of cymbals, with a likewise subdued verse. It comes and goes and a sense of drift remains despite the clearly directed progression and subtle instrumental build, lush and cascading from the speaker as it is. But the important thing to note is the lack of rush on Malady‘s part in getting to that verse. They’re perfectly content to let the instrumental aspects establish themselves first, and so they do.

A just about seamless transition brings on second cut “Laulu Sisaruksille,” which is only about a minute and a half long but in that time continues to expand the context of the album, bringing in strings alongside the keys in order to return the listener to the headspace where the band wants them to be. Toinen Toista is rife with sonic details that prove fodder for repeat listens, whether it’s the flute flourish early in subsequent centerpiece “Tiedon Kehtolaulu” or the funky bassline that underscores that track as a whole, or the acoustic strum that was there the whole time but does’t emerge and come to the fore until about the last minute of the 3:45 run.


There’s very subtly a lot happening in the centerpiece, between the guitar and bass and keys and vocals, but the drums provide a solid and welcoming foundation for all manner of exploration, and the rest of the band seems only too happy to take advantage. The track swirls upward to a melodic wash through which cuts flute and the aforementioned acoustic guitar, and the early King Crimson vibe that will resurface in closer “Nurja Puoli” is given due foreshadow. Of course before we get there, “Etsijän Elinehto” offers a bookend to “Toinen Toista” at the outset, gracefully weaving through early verses on its way to a sweeping guitar-led crescendo to finish side A on a crash and long fade. And speaking of worldmaking (as we were earlier; keep up), no place is that more evident than on album closer “Nurja Puoli,” which seems over the course of its 23 minutes to implement the lessons Malady taught so much earlier on the opening title cut.

Before “Nurja Puoli” gets to its post-midpoint round of tense, insistent thuds — and even, I suppose, after — the song’s arrangement unfolds with a graceful linearity. Perhaps Malady have given up a bit of the pastoralism in their sound in favor of this wider range, but only a bit, and though the closer gets momentarily dire, what emerges from that stretch is a warm, welcoming and unpretentious stretch of versemaking that proves deceptively complex in the interweaving of guitar, bass and keys, but is nonetheless pushed forward by Jylhänlehto‘s drums until a temporary moment of stillness around the 18-minute mark. It doesn’t last, of course, and Malady shift into giving Toinen Toista the end-credits soundtrack it deserves, layers of vocals reciting final lines over a suitable melodic wash serving as a peak to the 20-plus-minute journey undertaken, and indeed to the album as a whole, which “Nurja Puoli” almost cannot help but summarize.

There is plenty about Malady‘s approach that will be familiar to those who’ve dug into classic-minded prog before, particularly of the Scandinavian variety, but as they move from the first album to this one, their drive toward an individualized approach to the established tenets of the sound is all the more apparent, and as they move forward, they only do more and more to make it their own. Toinen Toista, which according to a major internet company’s translation matrix equates to “one another” in English, is a crucial step in their hitting that mark, and while they’re well on their way in these tracks — especially “Nurja Puoli,” which is essentially a short album unto itself — the sense is that they’ll only continue to grow and flourish as they move forward, and so remain truly progressive on a creative level.

Malady on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply