Between radio disco and progressive metal
Waltari was already on the scene back in 1986. They have never been a normal rock band. They still aren’t today and never will be. For instance, the idea of ‘style borders’ is completely unknown in their creative vocabulary. To mark the band’s 25th anniversary in 2011, Waltari decided not to release a lackluster and deathly boring ‘best of’ album, but instead a cover album. “If the cover album is the moon, the current record, ‘You Are Waltari’, is the sun – the two albums are complete opposites,” states chief songwriter, singer, bassist and keyboard player Kärtsy Hatakka.
Crazy crossover material
Those who love listening to an eclectic mix of styles and don’t put themselves in any one box will also feel right at home when they listen to the current Waltari album, ‘You Are Waltari.’ “With the completely crazy crossover material that we have collected there, we wanted to firstly go back to the original Waltari idea from our early days and also be completely different,” outlines Kärtsy Hatakka to explain the orientation of the record, “we love this playful yet also challenging use of this Janus-headed creativity.” He couldn’t have described the cosmos of sound on ‘You Are Waltari’ any better. Waltari once again shows itself to be a musical melting pot and creative playground. No influence is hidden. “And there’s a hell of a lot of them,” laughs the Waltari frontman, “They range from our experience of playing with KISS to the spectacle of performing with a classical orchestra. Then we also took a look at radio disco and all kinds of progressive metal. Our work outside of Waltari also benefits this record.” Kärtsy Hatakka alludes here to his compositions for the computer game ‘Max Payne’ and for the Finnish play ‘Akseli & Eelo’, which tells the story of two of his forefathers in the chaos of war. With their cosmos of sound consisting of rock, metal, dancefloor beats, orchestral music and all kinds of other quirky sounds, Waltari sets the stage for a world full of musical richness and poetic lyrics in which attention to detail enhances the minimalism just as much as the opulence.
Every influence is a permitted influence
On the current album ‘You Are Waltari’, the Waltari band structure is broken up in favor of a large, loosely connected collective of artists. “I may be the main composer, but I have the sound of every musician involved in my head while writing and I write precisely based on this,” explains Kärtsy Hatakka, “I couldn’t dream of tapping into greater creative potential. Seven artists are ultimately involved but, if you include all of the guests as well, there are more than ten people taking part.” This results in numerous simultaneous effects. One of these is that every influence is a permitted influence. A second is that each of the musicians involved can do with Kärtsy Hatakka’s song drafts whatthey like, as long as they also think and act like a Waltari musician. “When it came to the new Waltari record, we never went back to an old-school line- up,” adds the frontman, “The break-up of the band composition I mentioned goes so far on ‘You Are Waltari’ that there is a different line-up for every song. This leads to greater artistic diversity, a more diverse style and more variable instrumentation.” For instance, the long-time original guitarist and singer Jariot ‘Jari’ Lehtinen appears alongside ‘Stereo’ Sale Suomalainen – the original drummer until 1990 – he plays drums on three tracks. The fact that Waltari brings all these diverse influences together into a compelling and powerful whole full of high tension makes ‘You Are Waltari’ the strongest Waltari album of the last decade.
Serious and with a great deal of fun
With ‘You Are Waltari’, Waltari has one foot in its early days, but the other is far in the future. Which is also because a good dose of humor and fun is part of Waltari’s musical understanding. “I don’t like bands that are deadly serious,” Kärtsy Hatakka puts on record, “Frank Zappa, for instance, always packed a lot of humor into his music and it is also extremely experimental.” With ‘You Are Waltari’, Waltari is still following its mission – namely, to show that you can highlight the metal genre differently without losing sincerity and credibility. “The rule here is that there are no rules,” he continues, “I think it makes music much more interesting when it can surprise you. That’s why we surprise you on ‘You Are Waltari’ with metal-country, metal-dubstep and metal-Latin.” Waltari thus speaks in an encouraging way about versatility, openness, objectivity and honesty in music. This once again shows that, even today, bands like Waltari are still needed – and possibly more urgently than ever before. Those who simply set a high musical standard will never be lost. This is also appreciated by the audience, which believes Waltari music is second to none in terms of its diversity and which unites metal heads, goths, hip-hop fans and hard-core old rockers alike in front of the stage. And it would be no surprise if Waltari were to now also add techno kids to its listeners with the dancefloor beats that characterize the new tracks.