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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Anekdoten

Gravity

Review by Steve Alspach

I really didn't know what to expect from Anekdoten when I picked up this CD - I've seen their name around enough, but I have to confess to ignorance. Gravity proved to be a winning bet. The songs have a sense of sadness about them, but never go into melancholia or gothic doom.

Another thing that struck me about this is that if albums like this can be made, there's hope for us fair-to-middlin' musicians. Anekdoten consists of four fine musicians in Nicklas Barker, Anna Sofi Dalhberg, Jan Erik Liljestrom and Peter Nordins, but there's never any fret-shredding or keyboard solos that cover three octaves and back in half a second. These songs all go at their own pace and develop slowly, and Anekdoten seems to go more for mood in the piece than virtuosity. It's a welcome approach that can challenge the listener who is used to lightning-fast virtuosity. There's a place in the world for this kind of music, and Anekdoten has adeptly set up squatter's rights.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Monolith
A heavy hitter, "Monolith" is a bit tricky at first (Peter Nordin plays the ride cymbal on the off-beat in a 6/8 pattern). The combination of mellotron and vibraphone playing a matching melodic line in between verses makes for an eyebrow-raising effect, but why not?
Ricochet
Again, Nordin's drums make pinning down the beat a bit difficult on the intro. On this cut Anekdoten seem to be influenced by Enchant in the way they restrain themselves on the verse only to cut loose on the chorus, and the melodic and chordal similarities are there as well.
The War Is Over
There's more than a tinge of Porcupine Tree and Gilmourian Pink Floyd in this one - an acoustic guitar keeps company with the mellotron and rhythm section, and this is a nice, mid-tempo track. There's a lengthy end section as the band drifts along.
What Should But Did Not Die
Again there's a bit of space in this track. An electric guitar plays a slow 3/4 riff, and the vocals are slow and dreamy. The band shifts gears for a harder motif on the bridge. The Porcupine Tree influence shows itself as well here with its dark tones.
SW4
Sounding a bit like Radiohead in its musical arrangement and lyrical sense of anomie, the piece goes into a long instrumental coda that seems to hang for some time before picking up the bass line that kicked off the song.
Gravity
The verse starts off innocently enough, but then the vibraphone adds a sense of anticipation, and the song eventually explodes in a barrage of cymbals and mellotron. (In "Gravity," like elsewhere, the mellotron is used as a lead instrument, playing the melodic line, rather than used as a chordal instrument.) And again, a very long coda where it almost sounds like the band isn't sure if there should be a vocal line at this point as their are several build-ups in the music - "Here comes the verse, folks" - and then they pull back.
The Games We Play
Another acoustic piece, again similar to acoustic Pink Floyd, but this has a very muted arrangement, as though Brian Eno was at the producer's chair, especially the quasi-ambient ending. Acoustic guitar, piano, and very sparse keyboards almost lull the listener to sleep.
Selijak
This is an instrumental that harkens back to early Caravan. Again, Nordin's drumwork livens the track. The song, though in four, has a melodic line that's buried in triplets. The organ sounds much like David Sinclair's work in Caravan. A sampled voice then is used as the piece goes to another section and the dynamics build. The number finishes with the band at its peak drive before abruptly ending.
 
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