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(53:11, Transubstans Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Kontrast 3:57 2. Sorterargatan-3 9:48 3. Svenska Hjartan 3:01 4. Fem Trappor 6:32 5. Nattkift 5:00 6. Berslagen 10:29 7. Innilegur 2:51 8. Vastarbron 11:33 LINEUP: Einar Baldursson – guitars Gabriel Hermansson – bass David Lundberg – keyboards Alexander Skepp – drums
Prolusion. The foundations for the Swedish outfit GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA were established back in 2000, as a studio venture for keyboardist Lundberg and drummer Alexander Skepp. In 2004 they decided to expand their scope and added two more members to become a full-fledged band. They were signed to the Swedish label Transubstans, which issued their debut effort, "Tid Ar Ljud", in 2006. Three years after their first heralded release, the sophomore production "Dette Har Hant", was issued. And while they have kept their attachment to their record label other changes have occurred, as guitarist Mathias Danielsson have left the band, replaced by Einar Baldursson.
Analysis. Those familiar with the record label that has Gosta Berlings Saga (GBS hereinafter) on their roster would expect this production to contain retro-oriented material, as that is the section of the music business Transubstans specializes in. And one might say that GBS at least to some extent can be coined a retro act, although in a completely different manner than most of their labelmates. Instrumental progressive rock is the name of the game for this band and this production, and a rather challenging, quirky and innovative variety of the genre at that. And as far as influences go, Magma, Gentle Giant and King Crimson are the first artists that come to mind. The rhythm section provides drive and energy throughout. There are slower passages with a more laid-back approach from time to time, where the emphasis from bass and drums is to provide slicker, jazz-tinged contributions, but it is in the faster and busier parts of the songs that these two instruments become a substantial driving force. Driving bass lines create a solid foundation for the other instruments to expand upon, and the quirky, ever shifting drum patterns provide a solid backing and additional momentum in a manner I suspect many admirers of Christian Vander of Magma fame will find familiar. The guitar work and a variety of keys add in the melodic parts of the compositions. Challenging and quirky in nature, ever shifting and evolving themes and passages are served readily and steadily. Free flowing textures interrupted by staccato, dramatic interludes are just as much present as rich harmonic themes and adventurous disharmonic excursions. And while the arrangements and musical flavoring often remind one of Gentle Giant, the guitars in particular tend to add some Frippian attitudes, often in a rather subtle manner but also in frantic yet sophisticated displays with layers of disharmonic, dissonant escapades. The end result is a brilliant piece of work, one of the best efforts of 2009, and a CD I suspect will be regarded as a classic production in the future.
Conclusion. If intricate, quirky and sophisticated progressive rock of the instrumental variety is to your liking, few albums match the sheer quality found on "Detta har Hant" as far as 2009 productions go. Stellar instrumental performances and high quality compositions combine beautifully on a disc which should have a strong appeal amongst followers of artists like the aforementioned ones - to name-drop some highly familiar artists for comparison - as well as those generally fond of ‘70s tinged instrumental, intricate art rock.
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