Waldemar Wallenius, Musa 2/1974:

Wigwam: Being

[Translated by Timo Rauhaniemi and Claes Johansen.]

This is the most far-out album I have ever heard! Wigwam really score top marks with this one. Also, it is one of the most difficult records to get into I have ever encountered. But mainly, it is a GREAT album.

I have followed this group for the last two years, and they really belong among rock’s elite. I have waited for the moment when they would truly show what they are capable of. After a long wait, we now have this album, and it must be just about as good as anything they can possibly come up with! I can’t claim to be in any way disappointed with this record, nor is there anything on it I could imagine done any better (who could?). This LP is the result of two years hard and skilful labour. At the same time it feels as if that the band have arrived at a new starting point, with great possibilities lying ahead. I’m talking about the different directions they might take. Let me explain.

I really don’t have anything bad to say about this album. It starts brilliantly and it stays brilliant, despite some moments where you have to scratch your head. I can take this album in, but I can’t claim to understand it. If you have followed the work of Wigwam lately, this record is easy enough to listen to. It makes you realise that Wigwam will always make great albums. But I would really like to know how many people can claim they understand what’s going on here. With Being, Wigwam has created a difficult situation for themselves. The album came out of a long drawn process with many problems to be solved on the way. And now that it is finished, the all-important thing for the group is that it doesn’t become ‘just another album’ for the listener. It works best if the listener is someone who can make up his own mind about the work, find his own angle on it. You can’t deny that the musical and intellectual content is fantastic. But there will be many different ways to interpret it, and it will be wise not to express them unless you are absolutely certain about your views. So what is the problem? Other groups have made highly committed albums, records reaching otherworldly levels, and other groups have made political albums – some of which we have enjoyed listening to. After having listened to this LP a few times quite superficially, I tried putting on headphones and turning the volume up loud, finding that I was being dragged into an ever-deepening sense of desperation. Luckily, the atmosphere brightens up on Side 2. We all have our personal views on life. I myself always try to look ahead with a positive mind, despite the many problems in this world – don’t we all? Perhaps we do, but we do it in different ways. Seen in that light, Being seems to express many attitudes typical for the 1970s. All kinds of controversial issues are thrown into a melting-pot – including the more-or-less abstract and Absurdist views of Jukka Gustavson. This album, which is primarily his work, really stands out as a great milestone in Finnish rock. It is pioneering for many reasons. It is in a class of its own. It can even afford to be – to put it frankly – far too complicated for most people. I, for one, can’t see quite why Wigwam choose modes of expression and a use of phrasing that is so hard to comprehend – unless they are deliberately trying to be as high-flying as they possibly can. Still, I must admire how the group have developed their personal take on music and their views on life to such an impressive level. I mean, I studied English for a year at University and I still fail to quite understand what the meaning is behind all these lofty expressions. Still, Mats Huldén has been doing this far longer than I, and presumably the original Finnish lyrics, written by Jukka Gustavson, have been working at it over a long period of time. If the album hadn’t included a booklet with both Finnish and English lyrics, it would have been almost impossible to grasp the meaning of it all. I think the best way to listen to this record is to let the music flow right through you and try to take in as much of the lyrics as you possibly can. After all this is music, not a public speech.

And the music – wow! Unsurpassed. Where will these boys eventually go to? Try to imagine Sibelius at the same age and think of what he did afterwards. And talking about Sibelius, neither his nor Wigwam’s music could ever have been written by non-Finnish person. There are moments where the string and woodwind arrangements sound particularly Finnish: tender and melancholic. The only places where Being displays a foreign influence can be found during the Stevie Wonder inspired moments. The sound and style Gustavson’s voice employs on ‘Crisader’ is pure Wonder. This ‘Wonderism’ is something he has displayed at gigs as well, visually and musically. Of course, a top musician such as Gustavson will chose his idols from the top end of the scale.

All in all, Wigwam’s music is highly original and unique. Just listen to Pohjola’s bass playing on ‘Prophet’. This album for the first time features Gustavson on Mini Moog and VCS synthesizers. He avoids over-using them and employs them only with great vision and stylistic comprehension. However, there aren’t any huge surprises with regard to the music, because we already know the kind of level these guys can reach.

Being has been made on the group’s own terms. I think that reviews can be written on this album without starting with the phrase ‘In my opinion’. Wigwam’s own vision of it may differ profoundly from mine. I view this LP as the result of troublesome circumstances, and though I like it I really hope these circumstances will change so we might see a brighter and more positive atmosphere surrounding the group’s records from now on. That is something I will be looking forward to, but for the moment I will just enjoy this very humane and moving statement from the group, hoping you will do the same.