(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
These days there are so many musicians playing in a retro style (especially in the field of progressive rock) that it’s quite impossible to keep up with all of them. Most of the groups seem to be just trying to cash in on a certain style by riding a wave of tired hooks to death and then there are those that completely imitate one of the classic bands to the point of having no originality at all. Once in a while, there comes along a group that actually get it right. Gösta Berlings Saga, an excellent young instrumental four-piece from Stockholm, Sweden is once such band.
The name of the band comes from an old Swedish silent film from 1924 that was based on a novel Selma Lagerlöf. The film was one of the first roles for the soon to be mega-movie starlet Greta Garbo. I’m not sure why the band chose this name for the group. I couldn’t find out on their web site since it is almost totally written in Swedish. They’re promising an updated English version soon, though.
This music is retro fusion with lots of vintage keyboards like Fender Rhodes and mellotron. They play in a style very reminiscent of early Scandinavian prog artists and cite their influences as things like Kebnekajse, King Crimson and Magma. You can hear these elements all over their music but the band always seems to keep their sound fresh and original. The lineup consists of David Lundberg on keyboards, Mathias Danielson on guitars, Gabriel Hermansson on bass, and Alexander Skepp on drums and percussion. Skepp also contributes some extra mellotron.
I’ve only had this disc for a few days but it’s grown on me tremendously. Every time I play it I seem to not get satisfied with just one listen I have to play it at least twice or three times before I put on something else. I’m not only hearing the vintage styles in their music but there are also some more contemporary sounds too. They remind me somewhat of a mellower Guapo with some Änglagård seasoning here and there. The mellotron parts were recorded in Anekdoten’s studio and there’s definitely another influence there. The music has a definite hypnotic element and with the copious use of electric piano, the Magma similarity becomes evident. There aren’t any lyrics but there is a little bit of chanting and some nice experimental elements in a couple spots.
So if you’re looking for something new with a nostalgic prog sound that isn’t another one of the hundreds of thousands of bands out there trying to be the next Genesis, you will definitely want to give this Swedish band’s debut album a shot.