What Will We Leave Behind - Images from Planet Earth by Iro Haarla Electric Ensemble

Release date: October 29, 2021
Label: Svart Records

Something has crept upon my neck like Peter Parker’s radioactive spider as it bit his hand to make him not only give spidey-senses, but become the Marvel hero, Spider Man. This radioactive spider has landed upon my knees to give my ears another challenge. It has opened the door to reveal one of the most mind-blowing artist to come out of Finland, Iro Haarla and her Electric Ensemble.

Iro not only can play piano and the harp, but is also a composer and band leader. She had studied those two (piano and composition) at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy and jazz improve with Heikki Krzysztof Penderecki, and Arvo Part. She taught herself to play the harp who her late husband Edward Vesala gave her ideas about the instrument. She has composed music from the UMO Jazz Orchestra and has released albums from various labels on TUM and ECM Records. Last year, Iro has delved her toes into the waters of the progressive rock genre on the Svart Records label. Her new band leads the charge with synthesisers, world music, acoustic instruments, space-like sounds, and snarling guitar exercises.

The Electric Ensemble considers Ulf Krokfors on bass, Aniida Vesala on drums, Sami Sippola on tenor sax, and Jukka Orma on guitar. What Will We Leave Behind – Images from Planet Earth is a tribute to mother nature, and our home planet itself.

What Iro wanted to is to make this album a cry for help on bringing awareness between the depletion and natural disasters of natural resources to the forefront. Like a Jackson Pollock painting brought to life, the Ensemble work together as a team to bring the album to life. And Iro gives each of her bandmates ideas on how to use a structure by coming in, and coming out. Iro knows where and how they would bring everything to the forefront. There are some brutal hay-wiring effects on this album when she puts her hands on the synthesisers.

She and Aniida come up with these Morse code textures before it comes this tidal waving destruction. It’s quite a terrifying image, but with these frantic leaps of an attack that’s waiting to happen. It has these spacey atmospheres that goes beyond our solar system. You can hear thunderstorms coming through the channels of Gong, Herbie Hancock, Klaus Schulze, and Norway’s own Krokofant thrown in with Elephant9 featuring Reine Fiske leading the pack.


Biting through the fuzztone organ sounds from the early Soft Machine albums, blaring through the sax improvisation by Captain Beefheart from the Trout Mask Replica sessions, Sami creates these wildly improvisations that he, Iro, and the Ensemble are doing.

But it’s Jukka that is opening up the pearly gates to reveal these parallel universes that is beyond our wildest dreams. He would add these staggering sounds on his guitar with monstrous blues-and-jazzy sounds, following in the footsteps of Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Dennis Rea, Terje Rypdal, and Dewa Budjana. He can hammer it down by cutting this enormous giant tree with a mighty axe that is more powerful than Thor’s big hammer. The scary sounds on the analog synthesisers are the ones to add the eerie quiet vibrations of hearing birds and animals making these noises to know that someone is lurking behind the shadows.

Not only that, but the Koto arrangements are quite unexpected for the Ensemble to walk into these dangerous pathways that can be very challenging. I vision the sessions for Iro listening to bits and pieces of the albums from the krautrock genre, and the 2009 composition from the Finders Keepers label covering the plugged-in pop sound at the Pakistani picture house entitled, The Sound of Wonder!

It’s almost as if M. Ashraf had collaborated with Tangerine Dream during their Zeit period from the Ohr years. All in all, What Will Leave Behind – Images from Planet Earth is an achieving release from the Svart label. It has a strong sense of mystery, terror, and rising from the ashes. Iro has come a long way from the classical and jazz world.

For her to delve into the waters of the prog-rock genre, it’s quite a ride to embark on. She has really taken the big challenge by walking on a dangerous tight-rope. And it proves that she’s more than just a jazz and classical composer.

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