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TRACK LIST: 1. Mass 2:46 2. Birds 8:15 3. A Light in Every Window 3:20 4. Slow Train 2:15 5. July Rain 6:13 6. On the River 6:02 7. Early One Morning 7:51 8. Blue in Green 1:54 9. Tunnels 10:05 10. In the Bakery Cellar 9:12 LINEUP: Hans Rosen – bass, guitars; vocals Igor Knez – guitars; vibraphone With: Nina Knez – vocals
Prolusion. KNEZ ROZEN is a Swedish duo consisting of Hans Rosen and Igor Knez, the former best known for his involvement in various Swedish folk music projects, and the latter with a long resume as an active musician in projects honing in on fusion and experimental rock as their stylistic foundation, often ethnic flavored at that. "Ten Handmade Pieces" is their first collaborative production, and was released by Rosen's label Sugarbeat It in 2011.
Analysis. Artists who aim their material towards a progressive rock-interested crowd tend to be instrumentalists that either showcase a high degree of skill with flamboyant tendencies, distinct and innovate seeking experimentalists, or those whose arrangements make up in sophistication what their musical skills might not quite master – this, of course, generally speaking. But from time to time a CD like "Ten Handmade Pieces" will appear: a creation that explores a rather different approach to the art of creating music. An album described as mostly instrumental and with an emphasis on improvised pieces isn't that much of a novelty however, which, basically, is how this disc can be summarized. That the ten pieces in question have been constructed by partially replicating elements in cyclic patterns and partially by inserts and passages that apparently have less of a planned nature to them isn't exactly an innovation either, as that is often the case with music of this kind be it made in a jazz, rock or purebred experimental nature. What's not that common is that the very nature of the pieces is of a dampened and subdued character, almost contemplative in expression; some nifty instrumental details to savor for sure, but it’s all made and performed in a gentle manner, with an emphasis on subtle maneuvers rather than upfront and striking. Dampened percussion and rhythmical details combined with careful recurring acoustic guitar motifs make up the main foundation for most of these excursions – a firmament that, I guess, is a part of Rosen's contribution to this project. He does have an extensive background in folk music after all. On top we get improvisations of at times vastly different styles: blues-tinged slide guitar dominated affairs, a few cases that reside firmly within a jazz-oriented context, while others feature inserts with a stronger relation to psychedelic music with reverberating tones as a key element. And some stay put within a folk music oriented universe too. All of the pieces are carefully assembled, now with a key motif or instrument as a constant upon the aforementioned foundation supplemented with a number of brief inserts and sequences, now with only the latter part as the additional features, all along subdued and careful in nature, and mostly instrumental. A few instances of female backing vocals and male spoken word recitals or vocals break up what might otherwise have become a tad to monotone, but variation as such isn't a key element on this disc. Despite the number of improvised instrumental features I might add. Instead it's the hypnotic effects of patterned repetitions that ultimately will sway the potential listener to the liking – or not – of this material.
Conclusion. Careful, dampened constructions made up by cyclic patterned elements and a minor plethora of mostly brief improvised details is what Knez Rosen provides on "Ten Handmade Pieces". An album visiting genres such as blues, jazz and psychedelic music along the way, but with a foundation and emphasis on folk music, at least to my ears. And it is to the liberal minded folk music fan and jazz fan I suspect this production will have its greatest appeal. Progressive rock fans with an interest in both these styles as well as a general affection for music of a minimalistic and subtle nature might also want to explore this disc. A production without a widespread appeal I believe, but one of those items that will be a cherished treasure for a select few.
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