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Gosta Berlings Saga - 2011 - "Glue Works"

(46:05, Cuneiform Records)


****+
                 

TRACK LIST:   

1.  354 5:53
2.  Icosahedron 3:13
3.  Island 12:58
4.  Gliese 581g 5:52
5.  Waves 2:56
6.  Geosignal 2:22
7.  Soterargartan-I 12:51

LINEUP:

David Lundberg  keyboards
Einar Baldursson  guitars
Alexander Skepp  drums 
Gabriel Hermansson  bass
With:
Cecilia Linne  cello
Leo Svensson  musical saw
&:
Fredrik Carlzon  French horn (3); trumpet (6, 7)
Ulf Akerstedt  contrabass (3); tuba, harmonica (6, 7)

Prolusion. Following "Dette Har Hant" from 2009 and "Tid Ar Ljud" from 2006, the 7-track Glue Works is the third offering from Swedens GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA (GBS hereinafter), the bands first release that came from the precincts of Cuneiform Records.

Analysis. This album has taken me by surprise for three reasons. Firstly: it doesnt contain RIO-style arrangements at all. Secondly: much of it is unusually dark and heavy. And thirdly: it is way more straightforward and repetitive than either of its predecessors. Well, on its frontier tracks, 354 and Soterargartan-I respectively, the strong symphonic (as well as zeuhlish in the latter case) component of the bands sound indicates the genealogy from its previous creative legacy. However, both of them exhibit a lack of real avant-garde features, incorporating a kind of symphonic doominess instead. Furthermore, much of their contents represent variations on the same theme, though on the other hand, the instrumental variety is much better than the thematic one: several interesting combinations are used, the ones involving a musical saw sounding particularly effective as well as innovative. All of what has been said in the previous sentence is relevant to two more pieces, Icosahedron and Gliese 581g, on both of which, though, GBS has radically changed its original style, playing symphonic Doom Metal, a very singular variety (often emphasizing complicated drum traceries), with plenty of swirling solos, but without genuine prog-rock aesthetics, which are replaced by repetitive hypnotic patterns. While all-instrumental, the music is clearly influenced by Tiamats Wildhoney, one of my most favorite symphonic doom metal albums ever. However, GBS doesnt really sound like their compatriots, incorporating a lot of grooviness and cyclic patterns into the compositions, which gives them also a semi-electronic feel, with reference to late Ozric Tentacles. Thematically restricted, yet structurally multi-layered, both of them appear as dense flaky pastries in a way, and seem to reflect the albums title. Anyhow, the band has managed to make them sound at once hypnotic and attractive, at times imparting a sense of mystery to them. The third track, Island, is a gem, performed by guest musicians (yes, it doesnt involve any of the band members, but is composed by them). Totally acoustic, this is a piece of orthodox classical music, an ever-changing mosaic-interplay between a few chamber instruments and a musical saw, whose singing is very beautiful and unique alike, matching the music perfectly everywhere on the album, I must add. As for the remaining two tracks, Waves and Geosignal, it was unusual to find them here, to say the least. Focused for the most part on programmed drums and very slowly droning synthesizers respectively, each of them contains too few interesting moments to be regarded otherwise than as a makeweight. It is beyond me what the reason was to include them in the album (placing them one after another), especially since it would have run for 42+ minutes without them, and then wouldve been a good one, at least overall.

Conclusion. As before, GBS succeeds in blending their influences with their own musical discoveries, albeit on this album, they are too often keen on developing the same thematic storyline, so quite a few of its items appear to be overextended, at least from a classic progressive viewpoint. Either way, I think it much less suits the policy of Cuneiform Records than that of Record Heaven (the bands former label), and vice versa regarding both of its predecessors.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: November 13, 2012
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Cuneiform Records
Gosta Berlings Saga


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