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Harkonen, Kepa: Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones

Long associated with the Wristshakers, Finnish guitarist Kepa Harkonen now strikes out on his own with some Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones, an instrumental album that delves deep into this man’s love of the surf sound. Obvious comparisons to the likes of Dick Dale and Link Wray are unavoidable but dig a little deeper on an album where the contributions from drummer Daniel Hjerppe, bassist Robban Hagnas and keyboard player Pekka Grohn simply can’t be underestimated and you’ll find a whole lot more going on.

Interestingly, in terms of Harkonen’s guitar tone, the first flavours I picked up were those not of natural surf-sounders but instead of Hank Marvin of The Shadows and, in places, the Latino smoothness of Carlos Santana. That in itself makes for a smart pay-off between gliding fret mastery and a more urgent bite, with the two counterpoints allowing for a varied journey as we flit from the marching, deliberate “Slow Surf” through to the dancing swirl of “Funky Hi-Heels”, where darting organ slots in neatly next to the fluid guitar. That, as you’d expect, is a feature right across this album, Harkonen a silky-skilled but laid back presence that drives all of these tracks forward. “Havana Dream” is maybe the most blatantly Santana like cut on show, with the flurry of notes adding a joyous air. At the other end of the spectrum, the moody and mean “The Last Independence Day” swirls into a heady storm that proves enigmatically engaging and in truth, so successful is it that I’d personally have enjoyed a few more numbers set in this style.

With ten of the twelve tracks in evidence Harkonen penned, a further two covers add to the flow of the album, Freddie King’s “Fish Fare” given a thorough and energetic workout. Whereas the spooky tones of The Bel-Airs’ “Mr Moto” illustrates perfectly the seamless bond between the rhythm section as they take control of the bottom end and Harkonen and Grohn’s telepathically interweaving guitar lines and organ patterns.

Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones is one of those instrumental albums where you barely notice the lack of lyrics, instead simply revelling in the expert level of musicianship on display and in the end it’s that aspect that makes this such a fun collection to get to know. For surf scene devotees or those who like to spend an hour or so in the company of an excellent guitarist backed by an equally talented band, it’s time to get ready for some sumptuously tangy stories and star filled sounds.

Track Listing
1. Havana Dream

2. Funky Hi-Heels 

3. Caravan of Reindeers

4. Lime Green Blues

5. Escape From The City

6. Mr. Moto 

7. Slow Surf

8. Lapache

9. The Last Independence Day

10. Happy

11. Fish Fare

12. Blue Flames

Added: September 12th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Buy Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones Here
Hits: 663
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Harkonen, Kepa: Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2019-09-13 04:22:58
My Score:

Kepa Härkönen is a Finnish guitar player who is vastly influenced by ‘60s pop and rock music, especially anything surf related. You will also here splashes of blues and Cuban/Mexican influences. On his new album titled Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones he is joined by Daniel Hjerppe (drums, percussion, synthesizers on track 9), Robban Hagnäs (bass), Pekka Gröhn (keyboards, bass on track 10) and Olli Tuomainen (flute on track 10).

The opening track “Havana Dream” is a cleanly played surf rocker with a Cuban flair. The repetitive guitar licks are catchy and the ‘60s influences shine through. For a little bit of twang try “Funky Hi-Heels” which also features bubbly keys and for a ‘60s pop rock approach in a similar vein to the Ventures “Caravan of Reindeers” will do nicely. “Lime Green Blues” is a slower number, with a Spaghetti Western undertone, really showcasing Härkonen’s melodic sensibilities while “Escape from the City” rocks with gritty and slightly distorted surf riffs.

Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones readily showcases Härkonen’s axe slinging talent and penchant for writing memorable songs. Those gravitating towards ‘60s pop and surf rock would be served well by checking this out. Released on Quality Ramasound Records.

» Reader Comments:

Harkonen, Kepa: Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones
Posted by on 2022-07-02 19:04:27
My Score:

Those gravitating towards ‘60s pop and surf rock KFC Near Me
would be served well by checking this out. Released on Quality Ramasound Records.

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