For people who are not familiar with Hasse - or Hans Fröberg as he's often called - I would like to introduce him first. Fröberg was born on the 4th of January 1964. As a young boy he started to play guitar and drums, and around the age of fifteen he started to play in local pop and rock bands. In one of these bands he volunteered to sing the lead vocals when no one else would do it and he stuck to this role ever since. Fröberg has a warm, high-pitched voice and when singing in English, he has a bit of a Swedish accent. He formed Spellbound in 1983, a heavy rock group for whom he wrote most of the material together with guitarist Jocke Marsh. Spellbound recorded two albums in 1984 and 1985 and disbanded in 1988.
Next Fröberg went on tour with Highway Stars, a comic seventies show, and formed Solid Blue that toured heavily in Sweden from 1993 to 1995. The only album this band released was Volume 3 on the Foxtrot Music label run by Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings. In the meantime, he worked as a session vocalist for numerous artists including Stolt's fourth solo album The Flower King (1994). He was asked to play on a few tracks for The Flower Kings-album Retropolis (1996) and on the double-album Stardust We Are (1997). At this point he was asked to join the band on a permanent basis. His high range and softer emotional way of singing complemented Roine Stolt's voice in more than one respect. Both voices blend perfectly in harmonies.
He joined The Flower Kings on stage for the first time in May 1997, providing the band with backing vocals, occasional lead vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and some percussion. He gradually grew in a more prominent role. The album Flower Power (1999) included Magic Pie, one of his songs . The same year his other band Barrelhouse - a Led Zeppelin hard rock outfit - released their first album. Many releases with The Flower Kings followed, including two live DVD's. After the band released The Sum Of No Evil (2007) the band made a live tour. After this successful tour they decided to give the individual members a rest in order to work on solo projects. This rest meant that Hasse Fröberg could do something on his own and he started his own band Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion with a couple of friends which he met along the way to rock stardom. The fruition of this collaboration can be heard on their debut album Future Past.
Future Past starts with some soundscapes of street noises and right from the start we hear that Mr. Fröberg and his musical companions have something to tell music wise. The opening tune Sounds From The Empire/Fallen Empire contains a wonderful progressive rock sound. The keyboards played by Kjell Haraldsson don't have a supportive role here, but take the lead several times. The synthesizers and Hammond-organ are not only used as musical wall paper. Also the lead guitar of Anton Lindsjö sounds very pleasant. Sure, the album contains some singer-songwriter tunes as we can confirm on the next track Song For July. This musical style is just a part of Hans Fröberg's life, so you can't blame him for that. But no worries, he knows that his listeners like the great progressive rock tunes most. So after this song we can prick our ears again during Piece Of The Sky. On this piece we even hear some Yes- influences due to the harmony vocals and the fine bass playing by Thomsson. This piece features some Genesis-hints as well, but also blues licks played by Hans Fröberg himself. All these elements make Piece Of The Sky one of the best tracks on Future Past and a real delight for every prog head. On the next track I Wouldn't Change A Thing the rock influences return. It's a nice tune to sing along with. Above starts very impressive with some Rush-hints, but changes towards a Pink Floyd-style. The Rush- and even the Led Zeppelin-influences continue throughout the whole piece, but it still remains a very entertaining song. Everyday is another fine progressive rock piece with some blues influences. The synthesizer solo on this track is pretty amazing and very tastefully done. The next piece The Ultimate Thrill contains a rock approach; Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin are never far away! However, an unexpected and outstanding synthesizer solo gives this song a progressive rock twist. Very well done indeed! The last piece on Future Past is Only My Blood. It's a perfect ending of an excellent album that will be enjoyed by fans of The Flower Kings. The guitar solo in the vein of Roine Stolt and the many beautiful keyboard parts are due to this comparison. This strong debut album ends with the relaxing sound of singing birds.
I must admit that I had no high expectations of the first solo album by Hasse Fröberg, mainly due to the songs he wrote for The Flower Kings-albums. These songs didn't mean much to me, but this album again proved that you may not be prejudiced and keep an open mind to all new releases. So, sorry Hasse for having doubts about your first solo effort. I must give Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion a big compliment for what they delivered on Future Past, a n album with many musical highlights that never gets bored. Highly recommended to all prog heads in general, but especially to the many Flower Kings-fans out there!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Read also the interview with Hasse Fröberg and the review of his concert of 4-Mar-2011
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