Johan Randén - Summary

(CD 2012, 47:22, Reingold Records RRCD008)

The tracks:
  1- Tres Hombres
  2- Country Maniac
  3- Sky Express
  4- Floating Around
  5- Eclipse
  6- E.R.T
  7- Cheese & Miller
  8- Naga Jolika
  9- Funk It
10- Wind Trees

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About ten years ago the fourteen year old Swedish guitarist Johan Randén was in the focus of attention with an album called Lead Guitar. He was a kind of protégé of Mattias Eklundh and during live shows he opened several times for Eklundh's band Freak Kitchen. A few years after his debut he recorded Version 2.0, which was quite similar to the music on his first CD: fast and furious. If you give good wine or whiskey some time to settle it matures and the taste will be increasingly better. This is what happened to Johan Randén as well. In the seven years between his previous album and Summary, he has grown from a young hot shot guitar player to a professional musician who doesn't restrict himself to one particular style of music. Finding a new home on the record label of Jonas Reingold (Flower Kings, Karmakanic) a promising future is guaranteed with his third album.

Musically I think Summary is an excellent album containing many different styles, which make the music more interesting to listen to. The brilliant opener Tres Hombres shows a rock and bluesy side with nice funky guitars that reminds me a bit of the Spanish guitar player Jose De Castro. Country Maniac is a fast country-like song with a heavier backline and played in the vein of John 5 or the country rock songs by Steve Morse. The introduction of an acoustic guitar on Sky Express leads to a melodic jazz-rock piece. Old school guitarists like Larry Carlton or Lee Ritenour would have been proud to have written this slow and relaxed composition. Floating Around is almost in the same style: smooth jazz with a brilliant solo part slightly influenced by Steve Lukather. Eclipse is more keyboard orientated and has an electronic feel in the rhythm section. At first the music of The Rippingtons crossed my mind, but the electric guitar shifts the music in a direction which is typical for Johan Randén, I guess.

When E.R.T. fills the room with its power, the smooth music has turned into a more furious kind of fusion; the great interaction between the guitar and the bass make this a memorable piece. The addition of a horn section and a prominent bass give Cheese And Miller a funky touch. Johan plays in the background letting the bass and horns take the lead. In Naga Jolika I heard many influences: Nils Petter Molvær playing together with the way Steve Morse plays the guitar with a fusion type of keyboards in the background, in which the solo part turns into a sound that resembles Steve Vai. To put it briefly: this is brilliancy in five minutes. The next Funk It contains funky guitar parts over a steady funky bass and an impressive solo part. Wind Trees, the last piece on the album, is also the longest and perhaps the most diverse of them all. It combines a Michael Brecker kind of sax playing with relaxed guitar sounds over an electronic based rhythm section.

In the liner notes it is said that it took Johan Randén three years to record the album and I'm glad he took the time to do so. The result is a very diverse guitar orientated album where he can be very proud of. Together with his fellow-musicians Bengan Anderson and Simon Warnskog (drums), Sven Lindvall and Björn Milton (bass), Martin Lindqvist (sax), Ingemar Andersson (trumpet) and guest musician Staffan Astner (guitar) he recorded music that needed time to mature. This album has been stuck in my CD-player for a long time. I didn't listen to anything else because it represents the music I love.

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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