Väntorel was the most unique Estonian band in 1971 which can be clearly felt in the recordings which were made in the autumn of the same year. Their psych pop music was too underground to be featured on officially released records.
Väntorel’s original name was Keldriline Heli (“Cellar-like Sound”). The name was inspired by Brian Epstein book “A Cellarful of Noise” and the band’s rehearsal space in the cellar of Tallinn University of Technology. The band was formed when Andres Valkonen, from Pärnu, and Andres Talvik, from Tallinn, who had both played in beat bands at school, met in the summer of 1970. Talvik brought his former bandmates – the drummer Tiit Plaks and the guitarist Härmo Härm – to the first rehearsal. Valkonen’s friends from Pärnu came along too – the singer Lagle Alpius and the guitarist Viljar Rähn. The bass player Ants Rand was found through a newspaper advertisement.
Keldriline Heli played mostly original songs and their repertoire strived towards being more serious than that of an ordinary Estonian beat group. Valkonen was already known for writing songs with surprisingly complex composition. His music was influenced by, for example, Vanilla Fudge or “Sgt. Pepper”, legendary LP by The Beatles. Wah-wah and fuzz pedals constructed and Estonian-made organ Retakord modified by Härmo Härm helped band to achieve their dream sound. Härm also built amplifiers because purchasing decent equipment was incredibly complicated at the time. They tried to avoid romantic undercurrents in their lyrics and sometimes Valkonen used ideas borrowed from everyday conversations in their texts.
The rebellious stance and growing popularity of Keldriline Heli caused problems with the authorities. After two crowded concerts in the spring of 1971, the band was not allowed to perform anymore and their practice room was taken away. The use of their “underground” name was also prohibited. Despite all that, the psychedelic lifestyle of the condemned band members and their fans never went further than wearing colourful clothing, long hair and expressing themselves in a slightly louder way.
The band started calling themselves Väntorel (“Barrel organ”) because their song “Ma olen nahktiibadega väntorel” (“I am a barrel organ with leather wings”) had become a kind of anthem for the band. All summer they performed at dance parties around country. In September, Väntorel managed to record several songs. 11 tracks were recorded in the Composers’ House in one take – the music was recorded all together and the vocals were added the next day. The second recording session took part in the Estonian Television building. All in all, Väntorel recorded 14 original songs and a cover version of “El Condor Pasa”. Unfortunately the original tapes of these recordings were left in the manager’s cupboard when he went to the army. When he returned, the tapes were nowhere to be found. Due to a shortage of tapes, they were probably erased.
Constant persecution by the authorities created stress among the band members and short-lived Väntorel ceased to be in the end of 1971.
1 Loodus (A. Valkonen/A. Talvik) 4:31
1 Julgus (A. Talvik/A. Talvik) 3:13
Lagle Alpius – vocals
Recorded at Composers House by Enn Laidre and at Estonian Television by Olavi Soomre, Tallinn, september 1971
Front photo taken at Keldriline Heli concert, 26. february 1971
Restored and pre-mastered by Lauri Liivak
Licensed courtesy of Andres Valkonen
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