(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
Alexander Skepp - Drums, Mellotron, Solina
David Lundberg - Rhodes, Synthesizer, Mellotron
Gabriel Hermansson - Bass guitar, bow bass
Einar Baldursson - Guitars
After a really promising debut, quite a few artists suffer on their second release. It’s a syndrome commonly known as “the sophomore jinx” and can really hurt a young band’s career. There are, however, a few that just seem to laugh in the face of such adversity. The Swedish group Gösta Berlings Saga is one such example. They came out very strong with their debut disc, Tid är ljud, one of my favorite albums of 2006 and this time around they have an even better album. The music still contains quite a few nods to classic Scandinavian and other progressive rock but also features a fresh experimentalism that sets them apart from their contemporaries.
According to the press release that was sent out, Detta Har Hänt continues on the concept of nature and the city focusing “on the latter with eight stories about the languishing welfare state, industrialism and love.” I imagine it must be somewhat difficult to convey these notions without lyrics but Gösta Berlings Saga succeeds miraculously. It’s evident that the band spent a good deal of time and energy creating melodies that are as memorable as they are distinctive.
The music is very powerful and each member plays an important role in the overall impact of their sound. The band incorporates a lot more dissonance this time around and some very strange synth sounds have been added. The album was recorded with assistance from Mattias Olsson of Änglagård who runs Roth Händle Studios in Sundbyberg, just outside of Stokholm. There might be a slight resemblance to his band in the retro feel of some of the instrumentation but I would probably compare Gösta Berlings Saga more to a current band like Guapo in their sound.
It’s tough to pick out favorite moments on this disc because it would be too simple to say ‘the whole thing’ and get it over with. One of the tracks that I gravitate most to is the second one, titled “Sorterargatan 3,” which has a very cool groove that seems to go on in my head long after the song is over. “Nattskift” is a softer piece with some excellent Rhodes piano. Unlike the first album, there seems to be a lot of atmospheric and soundtrack-like moments. “Bergslagen” sounds right out of a horror movie with lots of suspense. The final track, “Västerbron 05:30”, contains lots of blistering lead guitar.
Those of you out there who have heard the band’s first CD will already have this on their want list or have already purchased it. If you haven’t heard this band yet, you really need to. Detta Har Hänt is nothing short of an instrumental masterpiece. While that ol’ sophomore jinx might affect quite a few bands, Gösta Berlings Saga acted like it doesn’t even exist with an even better second album. Check these guys out now!
(All Album Reviews by avestin)
I was tired that day, annoyed at everything that didn't work. A long period of frustration this has been and few things have managed to comfort me.
Staying late at work, I put on my headphones and started to scroll through my music player to see what can I possibly listen to. I then stopped at Gosta Berlings Saga. I had just gotten their new album a week before and have only listened to it once and did not remember it well enough. So I decided to play it again, thinking to myself that it might help me engage my brain for the tasks ahead.
I was wrong.
Not wrong about engaging my mind, but wrong about being productive.
Wrong, because for some reason, the moment I put the music on, I was hooked.
Wrong because I did not devote another minute of my time that night for work anymore and only concentrated on the music.
I have since listened to it many times, and it is still as captivating and magical as it was the first time, only now with the advantage of knowing the pieces. So it was not just my special mood that night that has permitted my impressionable mind to be that affected by this album. This is genuine love of this album.
What is it that has such a spell on me in their music?
Is it the richness of sound?
Is it the wonderful musicianship?
Is it the beautiful melodies?
Is it the wonderful way they develop their themes?
Is it their way to make instrumental music that seem to not require words?
Could it be their mingling of elements and styles into a sound of their own? Their crafting of a varied, dynamic and flowing album that sounds subdued and mellow one minute and then fiery and fierce the next?
Before answering these,
Listen to the bass lines such as those that hook you like a fish on a ____ in “Sorterargatan 3”; to the magnificent drum work in each song that hit you at times softly and at others hammer you to your place; to the wonderful keyboards work (and there are plenty of keyboards used here, it's a real heaven) that like a magic wand, adds marvelous majestic streaks of beauty and bliss; to the guitar work that shift between a raunchy sound to a delicate sweep of fingers. This album, aside from the music on it, is a delight to listen to in this aspect.
But then, without gripping music, it would end just there.
And here I find myself at odds to describe it: there are elements of fusion as well as occasional use of electronic effects; there are pieces which have repetitive instrumental patterns, developed with added layers of instrumentation and additional musical lines, epic in nature. The pieces differ in quite a lot in rhythm and style even, yet there is a binding spirit to them all, a unifying character. It is hard for me to translate the music and its magic to words here, but I can say this is progressive rock that runs through several emotional fields and manages to use its influences as a stepping board and not as a leaning board.
Go listen to them on their website and myspace, at least give it a try.
A truly wonderful album! A gem that I personally cherish and highly recommend.