Lauri Porra

Finnish composer enlists Stephen Fry for a symphonic love letter to the universe

The tapestry of Lauri Porra’s musical identity has been sewn together by a myriad of threads. A fourth generation musician raised in a classical household in Helsinki (he’s a direct desecenant of composer Sibelius), he went in the search of new musical horizons in his teens. Since then, he’s spent over two decades immersed in a dizzying variety of projects.

I stopped going to my cello lessons and bought an electric bass, more out of curiosity than rebellion” he says. “At one point, I was playing in 25 bands, playing bluegrass, Argentinean tango, hip hop, electronic, metal. I just wanted to play and discover how these different styles worked.”

Alongside playing bass in power metal band, Stratovarius, Porra composes for orchestras and has scored for Finnish films and TV shows. His latest album, //Matter and Time//, meanwhile, is his love letter to the universe; a scientific symphony that tips its hat to jazz and the avant garde.

I’ve been always fascinated by Bach’s compositions for masses, where you can feel a real gratitude for God in the music. However, I wanted to write something from a secular point of view,” Porra says of the record’s driver.

Spinning a tale that arcs through billions of years, from the birth of the universe to the aftermath of humanity’s end in just 50 minutes is no mean feat. Consequently, he tapped up astronomer Esko Valtaoja to craft its script. From there, he let his imagination run wild, putting all his experiences into one great melting pot.

The message of the album is of love and gratitude,” says Porra. “There are a lot of horrible things in the world that need our attention, but I wanted to express gratitude towards the beautiful things. There are dark moments and it goes deep; that’s why the end of the album – then end of humanity – is in the middle of the album, so that it still ends on a high note.”

The all important finishing touch comes from its narrations, which are delivered by the inimitable vocal chords of Stephen Fry.

Having Steven on the album is magical,” he relays. “Hearing //that// voice in the context of the album was quite a moment.”

Whether scoring films or penning high brow prog concept albums, Porra believes that “writing music is always the same: You have an intention, and then you try to put it in the music.

I’m interested in the emotion of music,” the Finn explains. “Prog to me is about ambience and the mood. Pink Floyd and Brian Eno were always great at that; they’re progressive and minimalist at the same time.”

The record has already been performed in Finnish concert halls and received resounding applause. Now he hopes the universal story of //Matter and Time// can reach audiences far beyond his homeland, with hopes to bring it to the UK and Europe.

The album is about beginnings and endings and that nothing is ever really the end. That can translate into any language,” he says. “I hope to do concerts all over the world.” 

PROG FILE

LINE-UP: Lauri Porra (composer, bass, synths), Stephen Fry (narrations), Vantaa Orchestra (orchestrations), Dalia Stasevska (conductor), Ringa Manner (vocals)

SOUNDS LIKE: A cosmic edition of Blue Planet, where twisted jazz rock melds with silver screen orchestrations and stirring narrations

CURRENT RELEASE: //Matter and Time// is out now via Platoon

WEBSITE: https://platoon.lnk.to/matterandtime

Phil Wellee

From "Limelight - Lauri Porra" Prog Reprinted with permission.

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