What a delight that the Finnish Colossus and French Musea labels keep on releasing those vintage keyboards drenched boxes, this time the focus is on the Swedish progressive rock from the Seventies. In my opinion, this is a pretty unexplored territory for many progheads with the exception of Kaipa (here Roine Stolt started his progrock career) and Bo Hansson (once member of the duo Hansson & Karlsson that was support act of Jimi Hendrix in the late Sixties in Sweden).
On CD-1 we meet a few known new formations: Simon Says plays Kaipa (dreamy intro with sitar, then a compelling bombastic climate with wonderful vintage keyboards and a moving guitar solo), Willowglass also playing Kaipa (keyboards in the vein of 76-77 Genesis), Beardfish plays Made In Sweden (dynamic and varied) and Bootcut as Merit Hemmingson (lush Hammond sound). Very beautiful in the ’70 Genesis tradition is Revalation as Atlas (mighty close to Tony Banks during The Cinema Show) and E.D.O. (Edo Spanninga from Flamborough Head) also plays Atlas (impressive church organ and violin-Mellotron. I also love to listen to Jinetes Negros as Blakulla (very alternating with splendid vintage keyboards and sensitive electric guitar), The Grand Trick as Bo Hansson (propulsive with fiery guitar) and Echoes as Trettioariga Kriget (from compelling with steel-guitar to a swinging break with a bass solo).
On CD-2 we can enjoy a lot of variety: from pleasant symphonic rock like La Boca Della Verita as Dice (with an awesome Mellotron sound, powerful guitar and flashy Minimoog flights), Karmic Juggernaut also as Dice (fluent bombastic like Seventies Yes with lush Hammond) and Mist Season as Ragnarok (Camel -like with strong work on guitar and synthesizer) to Sixties rock like Jimi Hendrix and Cream by Magnolia as November (extended guitar solo with sensational use of the wah-wah pedal) and jazzy with powerful saxophone and guitar by Vanilla Project as Atlas. This CD also contains songs that sound like a blend of pop, rock and Sixties-like renditions of tracks by JetSet, Zamla Mammaz Manna, Trettioariga Kriget and Pugh Rogefeldt by respectively JetSet, Tkingkeys, Villabrad and Soniq Circus. It sounds pleasant, but not traditionally progressive like we use to get from Colossus/Musea. Nonetheless, it’s interesting music, this Swedish progressive rock.
CD-3 turns out to be the most adventurous and surprising one from this 3-CD box-not always my cup of tea-but often captivating: a kind of chamber progrock with fat synthesizer runs and classical flute by a special formation with a piece of the Swedish composer Johan Heimich Roman, a swinging rhythm with fine vintage keyboards by Daal (featuring Alfio Costa) as Ragnarok, a piece with a beautiful solo on the flute-Mellotron and strong guitar work and female Swedish vocals by Anya (including Par Lindh) as November, blistering
wah-wah guitar and then lush Mellotron and Moog sound by The Moor as Pugh Rogenfeldt,
a compelling blend of symphonic rock and psychedelia with Floydian guitar and intense Mellotron by Matthijs Herder as Algamas Tradgard, folky with the Arabian and Indian sitar by In The Labyrinth as Handgjort and an intricate musical stew featuring sitar and tables and all sorts of sounds by Orient Squeezers as Zamla Mammaz Manna.
Personally I like this box because it’s an interesting way to discover Seventies progrock other than from countries like Italy, France, Germany and Spain. Bands like
Blakulla, Dice and Ragnarok are especially worth discovering, but I am also delighted about the renditions of the current progrock formations. And … fellow Dutchman Matthijs Herder whose lush Mellotron sound is great!
****+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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