Barely 10 days after the passing of John Orsi, I find myself writing about the demise of another fine progressive rock musician whose work I had the pleasure of reviewing on this blog. Though Dave Kulju passed away on December 10, I only found out this morning – again, while scrolling down my Facebook feed. He would have turned 44 in January.
My first contact with Dave also happened when I was collaborating with that other website, and he sent me his second solo album, Notes From the Margin, for review. I remember being intrigued by his obviously Finnish surname (I lived in Finland from 1996 to 2001, and still have very fond memories of that country), though only later did I ask him if he had Finnish roots. Unfortunately, I did not get round to reviewing the CD on that occasion, so when we connected on Facebook a few months later I asked him to send me another copy. The album turned out to be a cut above the majority of the “solo pilot” projects I had reviewed in the past – marrying melody and accessibility with a genuine love of progressive rock, and paying homage to the genre’s glorious past without coming across as blatantly regressive.
In the past few months, Dave had been working on some new music, and towards the end of November he posted a video of a new song on his blog (which also hosted examples of his impressive photography, including quite a few shots from NEARfest Apocalypse). He had also been working with a couple of old friends with the intent of starting a band, and recorded two demos titled “Big Sur” and “Echoes of Warning”. In spite of his commitments to work and family, he always found the time for music, which was his greatest passion together with photography, computers and sports.
Although both Dave and I were in Bethlehem for the final edition of NEArfest, we managed to miss each other, but hoped there would be a next time in which to meet face to face. Sadly, fate decreed otherwise, and for the second time in this month of December – a month that has acquired a special poignancy for me since my mother’s passing at the end of 2004 – I have to mourn the passing of a talented artist and very nice human being. I hope those of my readers who are unfamiliar with Dave’s music will want to check it out and keep his memory alive.