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TRACK LIST: 1. The Madonna Death Cult Camp 6:11 2. Don King Kong Kaba 4:06 3. For E 3:23 4. Mother of Time 3:17 5. Andre Malist 6:02 6. Swedish Lesson-2 0:56 7. Swedish Lesson-3 3:31 8. Chinese Theocracy 5:14 9. Recipes for the Suburban Savage 6:05 10. Not Necessarily a Miracle 6:13 LINEUP: Trond Giellum – drums, percussion; Rhodes; vocals Anders Krabberod – bass, acoustic guitar Thomas Meidell – guitars; keyboards Hans-Peter Alfredsen – keyboards With: Jorgen Skjulstad – clarinet Hannelive Karlsen – violin Truls Heggero – vocalizations
Prolusion. Trond Giellum, a drummer for the Norwegian band Panzerpappa, could have not invented anything better but to divide his first name into two parts via a hyphen so as to give a name to a newly-formed quartet with him heading it, at least nominally. The point is that so to speak compositionally, the debut TR-OND release, “Tr-Ond & The Suburban Savages”, is a common brainchild whose other ‘parent’ is Thomas Meidell (one of the barbarians, as it may be assumed). Previously I haven’t heard of this guitarist or the keyboard player Hans-Peter Alfredsen either, whilst the name of bassist Anders Krabberod isn’t new to me, since this is Panzerpappa’s man, also.
Analysis. Tr-ond & The Suburban Savages appears as a group that can whip up quite complex arrangements and that can be straight like some neo-heads as well, which seems to depend more on those who are behind the creation as songwriters than on the personal wish of each of the players, all of whom, though, are undoubtedly mature musicians. Compared to Panzerpappa, at least to any of their efforts I’m familiar with, there is not too much here that is progressively memorable, with your permission, and which in particular concerns a few of the core pieces of this ten-track release. That being said, this is ‘still’ music that can’t easily be classified, especially with any single stylistic term, as there are elements of symphonic, spacey, folksy, fusionary (sic!), heavy and electronic music. However, no RIO-ish or any other avant-garde tendencies to be discovered here, nor even those that would resemble Gentle Giant – which is not necessarily bad, of course, and which, after all, determines a distinction between this project and what automatically arises as its prototype. One way or another, the most widespread elements are space rock arrangements and folksy motifs, though the latter often appear only due to the presence of an accordion-sounding implement (not sure whether it’s really an accordion), which is part of quite of a few of the pieces, relatively often playing ‘first violin’ in the arrangements. The second track, Don King Kong Kaba, is the only one whose folk-rock filling is completely of a natural origin, referring directly to the Middle East. It includes a wonderful jam with all the players involved, which while listening to I’m instantly reminded of a loud, multi-colored, oriental bazaar. By the way, of the side participants I only find clarinetist Jorgen Skjulstad to be worthy of mention (read: here and in the CD booklet alike), to say the least. The first and the last three tracks here, The Madonna Death Cult Camp, Chinese Theocracy, Recipes for the Suburban Savage and Not Necessarily a Miracle, while twisting and turning on average as often as they return to a previously stated theme, are overall pretty intriguing too, no matter that the two finishing pieces are basically slow-paced – think of semi-symphonic, semi-fusionary Space Metal with a somber atmosphere in both cases. Nevertheless the first two of those are more diverse: each finds the band at times really stretching out, each reaching its progressive climax closer to its finale, exclusively in the form of symphonic (yet still jazz-tinged as well) Space Rock with some hints of classic Eloy and early ‘70s Pink Floyd. The sole track with lyrical content, Mother of Time, would have left a better impression if it hadn’t contained any singing. In short, only its second half is interesting, reminding me somewhat of a shortened variation on the title track of Hawkwind’s “Levitation”. Built up of symphonic, minimalist, electronic-like and, well, rhythmic features, Andre Malist and the Swedish Lesson-3 are each a melodious, yet groovy and generally quite simple piece that pales in comparison with anything from Panzerpappa’s repertoire. For E, however, has an even more distinct modern-type approach to it. The band could have easily omitted it (along with the Swedish Lesson-2: a very short cut imitating the noise of an LP) when completing the output, as it’s extremely straight as well as derivative, strongly reminiscent of Man on the Corner, a Phil Collins creation from Genesis’s “Abacab” – only with no singing, of course.
Conclusion. Viewed out of the context of you know what, Tr-ond’s first release is worthy of a good grade (and is marked just so). However, you see it could hardly have been possible to avoid drawing parallels between it and the project’s main man’s maternal ensemble’s work, which is certainly because I am well aware of whose apprentice he is. So, am I not too objective in this writing? This time, let me please leave it to you, dear readers, to decide whether it’s so – in the event you are already acquainted with the recording or are going to purchase it, of course. I only hope it’s clear from the review (regardless of its degree of reliability) whom I personally see as potential fans of this outfit.
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