For many prog heads the legendary progressive rock band Änglagård belongs to the best Swedish prog bands. Their music, mostly inspired by King Crimson, certainly contains great moments and their short back catalogue of only three studio albums feature some outstanding pieces. Unfortunately I never had the chance to witness one of their concerts mainly because the band hardly tours around the world. However, recently I got the opportunity to discover the band's musicianship while performing their complex music in front of an audience. Of course, I wasn't actually present at the venue, but I listened to Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan, a live album recorded from a number of shows performed in 2013. This double CD is the band's second live album after Buried Alive (1996).
In March 2013 Änglagård played a series of three concerts at Club Citta, Tokyo in Japan to promote their latest studio album Viljans Öga (2012). At the time they were sharing the bill with The Crimson ProjeKCt. They performed with a varied track list and a revised line-up including Anna Holmgren (flute, saxophone, Mellotron, recorder), Johan Brand (bass, Taurus bass pedals, atmospheric sound), Tord Lindman (guitar, vocals, gong, atmospheric sound), Linus Käse (Hammond organ, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes piano, Moog Voyager, piano, soprano saxophone, vocals) and Erik Hammarström (drums, cymbals, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, cran casa, gong).
This live CD contains songs from all three studio albums. It features fine pieces like Jordrök and Kung Bore from the debut album Hybris (1992), a real beauty like Höstsejd from Epilog (1994) and tracks as Sorgmantel and Längtans Klocka from Viljans Oga. In addition to the older pieces, you also get one brand new piece on this record, namely Introvertus Fugu, part I, which was previously unreleased. This new piece shows that the band can still write fantastic prog rock tunes! Since Änglagård are pre-eminently a live act you won't hear the same versions that can be enjoyed on the studio albums. This is something I always like about live records. What's the point of releasing live cd's that sound identical as the studio versions you already own?
People who share my vision about live albums are probably fond of music with a lot of improvised parts and long solos, just like me. Well, you'll certainly make a good choice by buying Prog På Svenska - Live in Japan. Of course, the complex music on this album is not everybody's cup of tea, but when you've reached the point of understanding the music you'll have a good time listening to these recordings. In my opinion not one single second on this great double live album is boring. It's just a fine addition to my already large collection of live albums. So, to all the musicians involved in this live project I can only say: well done!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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