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(46:28, Trail Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Entrance 1:55 2. The Creek 3:16 3. I See a Man 1:30 4. The Nixie 4:01 5. Drowning 3:58 6. Storm 4:24 7. The Brook Horse 5:03 8. Lost in the Swamp 2:25 9. Dance of the Pixies 4:21 10. Woodlands 3:29 11. Psilocybe Semilanceata 12:06 LINEUP: Max Karlstrom – vocals; bass; organ, synthesizer; harmonica Claes Mikael Svensson – drums; vocals William Friman – guitars; piano, organ Mikaela Eriksson – vocals
Prolusion. The Swedish band BARRETT ELMORE was formed in 2008, initially as a trio playing a rough variety of blues. The threesome soon found psychedelic music more interesting to explore, however, and from 2009 and onwards that has been their choice of stylistic expression, an alteration that also saw Mikaela Eriksson join the band. "Woodlands" is their debut album, and was released by the US label Trail Records in the spring of 2012.
Analysis. Barett Elmore cites bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Beatles as their most important influences which, one might assume, has lead to an album of a rougher sounding, vibrantly psychedelic progressive rock that incorporate vocal harmonies and easygoing themes and lead motifs or a harder edged psyched out sound in general. But that just isn't the case, as this is a band that one might describe as somewhat detached from their stated influences in terms of specific stylistic expression. Barrett Elmore's take on psychedelic progressive rock is for the most part a gentle one, an approach that emphasizes careful mystical sounds, resulting in compositions frequently as gentle and pleasant as a cool breeze on a hot summer day. Acoustic guitars tend to be at the core of the matter, backed by a careful, mostly unobtrusive, bass and dampened, steady drum patterns. A layer of light toned, resonating, psych-tinged guitar soloing or gently surging vintage organ textures usually supplement the proceedings, occasional both of them. And in the vocals department Mikaela opts for a gentle, ethereal delivery that adds a mystical sheen to the proceedings, while Max Karlstrom has something of a Jim Morrison vibe over his voice and delivery. This is light-toned, careful and gentle psychedelic music in short, but with enough variation to place it within a progressive rock context. That this album essentially consists of two songs, of which the first has been divided into ten parts, is perhaps the main reason for that. If regarded as standalone creations these ten pieces will be regarded as fine examples of psychedelic rock, but when viewed as one entity, we're dealing with a composition with its fair share of alterations both in pace and intensity alongside a distinct thematic development. The most memorable amongst them, at least to my ears, comes in the shape of The Nixie, where Karlstrom's vocals and the use of vintage organ in sum created a strong The Doors association, and with an end sequence that represents one of the very few occasions where the band employs darker toned, harder edged guitar riffs. And add in a brief light-toned guitar motif with something of a post rock vibe to it as well for good measure. Described as a bonus track, Psilocybe Semilanceata is a creation of a somewhat different nature. An instrumental piece that basically comes across as a collage of mostly interesting thematic explorations, where gentle sequences are paired off with passages of a more energetic nature, brief pauses separating the individual parts, but assembled in a manner that does give it cohesion and continuity, at least to some degree. All in all, this is a fine CD, and one that continues Trail Records excellent line of high quality productions aimed at a psychedelic rock interested audience.
Conclusion. Gentle and careful psychedelic progressive rock is what Barrett Elmore provides on their debut album "Woodlands", dampened ethereal themes and movements with a distinct mystical atmosphere, with occasional lapses of darker tinged moods applied to good effect. I'd single out fans of early Pink Floyd and The Doors to be something of a key audience, and those with a soft spot for contemporary bands such as The Future Kings Of England might also want to investigate this fine Swedish quartet.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 2, 2012
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