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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Villebråd

Alla är här utom jag

Review by Gary Hill

Another Swedish prog band, these guys seem less enamored with the older prog than some of their label-mates. Don’t get me wrong, they do lean on older sounds, but if I had to pick a group they sound most like it would be Radiohead, but that comparison only applies to parts of the disc. All the lyrics here are in Swedish. One point that’s pretty well consistent throughout the disc is that the music shifts and changes quite a bit. This is a strong album, but not for everyone. For more information, including how to get the disc, point your browser to the Record Heaven site or the group’s web site or their myspace. You can even sample some of the music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Död barrikad
Playful sedate tones lead this one off, but then the guitar enters with a rather jazzy progression that is melodic and pretty. A reverse echo brings in the vocals and as they join the cut moves out to more definite prog rock stylings. There are still a lot of jazz textures in the mix, though. After the verse the group play on top of the melody for a time, then shift out into a new prog excursion. This is short lived, giving way to the original progression and then it’s onto a repeating process of the song’s main themes. They drop it later to a short segment of space then the bass solos and as the rest of the instruments join they create a rather funky new jam. This intensifies out into the hardest rocking moments of the cut, creating a stellar journey that makes this one a great album opener. The keys play across this at times creating some great sounds. This ends abruptly. 
Periferi
More of the fusion oriented song structure, in a bouncy sort of motif, starts this. As keys and vocals come in a new texture is brought to the table. This one powers out later, feeling a bit like Radiohead. They move through a number of changes in the course of this one, but overall it’s rather like the one that preceded it, a melodic modern progressive rock number that draws inspiration from both older and newer sounds. They drop it back later to a sedate keyboard-dominated section over which a jazz texture is created. From there the group start out on a series of explorations before returning to the main themes.
Försvunnen i antipoderna
Vocals lead this one off and the instruments join in one of the more dramatic passages we’ve heard so far. Then it shifts into an odd folk sort of segment, but it shifts quickly back to the preceding segment. This sort of a shifting between the two continues until they launch out into a new hard-edged prog trek that has theremin swirling over the top. They move it through on the existing sounds for a while, then power it out into a crunchy jam that also features the theremin. It resolves from there in more traditional prog directions with varying themes coming and going afterwards. This one ends with an extended section of sound effects. 
Ingenting
A killer hard rock tone starts this one off. As the band join in they create a very funky sort of retro sound that’s a great change of pace. The vocals come over the top of this backdrop. After a time they power this out into more Radiohead styled sounds and the theremin again shows up. This is a crunchy sort of jam from there, but shifts back to the funky movement eventually. They work in some cool space tones later, but then fire out into a driving hard rocking segment that’s exceptionally tasty.
Alla är här utom jag
This starts gradually with mellower tones, but as the central themes kick in with a vengeance it is the most traditional progressive rock styled music we’ve heard so far. They run through like this for a while, but then shift out into a new theme. Still, its textures are similar to the ones that dominated the first sections. This instrumental is most likely to fans of older prog. It has some great keyboard sounds and a very strong arrangement. It’s a fun ride.
Nu laddas vapnen
Playful, keys way down in the mix lead this off, but the band quickly launch into another old school tinged prog jam that’s one of the best on show here. They move it out into a harder rocking jam (but still well rooted in melodic progressive rock) after a time. After a while they eschew this texture for some weird ambient keys, then launch into a cacophonous, rather dissonant King Crimson like segment. When they come out from there it’s back into melodic modes and they carry the themes of the song forward to finally end it after a couple changes.
Gjutjärnsspis
A mellow fusion sound is the order of the day on the early modes here. They eventually work this up to a more energized version of itself as they move forward. A killer fusion-like jam later is driven by guitar that reminds me of Peter Banks’ work. The group continue on by revisiting and reworking various themes to create one cohesive unit, but parts of this also sound like Radiohead. 
Pappershus
Synthesized or processed piano starts this and serves as the backdrop for the first vocals. This balladish format holds the tune for a while, but then it shifts out into a harder rocking mode that feels like the kind of music Spinal Tap might have produced if they had gone into a progressive rock mode. This doesn’t stay around long, though, instead turning into more a melodic Flower Kings sound. Then a short burst of Banks-styled guitar turns it around to a section that feels rather like The Buggles. They resolve it out from there exploring familiar themes in new ways. This cut is a bit odd, but also one of the better ones here. It gets quite powerful in its later incarnations. Radiohead does show up again on this one later, too.
Kranium med minnen
This rises gradually with swirling patterns of sound creating mystery and drama. From there they turn it into a reggae-type jam. While not the most proggy at this point, it’s also a nice change of pace. It drops towards more free form experimental fusion in textural tones later, then shifts out into one of the most effective progressive rock passages of the whole disc. That segment manages to call to mind the Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station album just a bit. They drop it down to a section of weird sounds punctuated by keys, but then power this instrumental back up to a revitalized version of that Terrapin sort of jam. Eventually it moves out into a long period of space that finally ends the disc. I think the album would have ended on a better note had they left the weirdness off.
 
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