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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members.

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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Björn Olsson - Instrumentalmusik - 1999

Sometimes one is pleasantly surprised in this ingrate world of progressive rock, in which we find so many music already heard and repeated, when discovering a completely unknown group or soloist that marvels, dazzles, and makes us think that prog is by no means dead, and that there is hope at the end of the road.

This is the case of Björn Olsson, a complete unknown for me, and I suppose that for most progVisions readers. This gentleman comes from the Swedish rock bands Union Carbide Productions (of which many years ago I listened to an EP which I remember vaguely in a post-punk style a la Wire or Fall blended with Stooges or Captain Beefheart) and the unknown Soundtrack of our lives. He now presents us his first solo album (I guess) Instrumentalmusik, a wonderful example of progressive music (not rock).

This album doesn't contain neoprog nor symphonic rock and certainly it is not new age music, but rather it is a clear example of what we could call "Pink Floyd playing krautrock and ambient in a psychedelic cosmic environment". Therefore, we find clear influences of Pink Floyd in "Meddle", More or "Atom heart mother" (those dense and vertiginous developments of hammonds decorated with slow and dark guitars of "Echoes"), as well as of the best, more ethereal, soft and cosmic Amon Duul 2, Gila, Cluster, Tangerine Dream and mainly my beloved Popol Vuh, shades of rock, or the more languid Fleetwood Mac of Peter Green. To this, maybe I could add a flash of soundtrack music of Ennio Morricone. This is the school also attended by other groups and soloists that are difficult to frame and classify in a single style, and that certainly do not play classic or conventional progressive rock or new age. I refer here to electronic bands as Labradford or Flying Saucer Attack, monsters of dark ambient like Ildfrost, the Protagonist, Raison d'Etre, the more rocker and psychedelic Schwarz

The album, perfectly subtitled "instrumental music to submerge in… or to disappear into" enjoys an ethereal and beautiful cover of a sun dawning on the sea. It was recorded in (and with this I refer to inside and to the surroundings of) the summer country house of Bjorn in 1997. It includes 12 songs of a medium duration (with undecipherable names in Swedish that I won't try to transcribe here), all of them instrumental except for some passages of spoken whispered voices. Our friend Olsson (organ, guitar, mandolin, zither, voices and whistles) is accompanied by Pontus Ottestig (drums and bongos), Johan Forsman (bass) and Ola Svantesson (electric piano), with the collaboration of a number of musicians in some pieces.

It makes no sense to describe the album track by track, as in general they all share the same textures and developments, maintaining a feeling of candy abandonment and bitter anxiety. Beautiful and soft treatments of textures, a backdrop of ambient sounds on which keyboards and guitars fly over (this is a guitar album, really), with no hurry but without a pause. It describes perfectly in our imagination those landscapes of the North of Europe that we all imagine (dark, calm but with a certain uneasiness, forests, solitary beaches, infinite evenings). We can listen sounds coming from nature and the sea of the area, as well as the addition of other instruments (accordion, acoustic guitars, bongos…) giving colour to the mixture.

This is, then, an instrumental non-stop trip to infinite, perfumed with 60’s hammond, narcotic music influenced by LSD or mushrooms (I would like to know what did these gentlemen smoke in the recording sessions) soft, dense guitars, smooth sound bases of percussion, and beautiful developments of the bass marking the rhythm of the songs marvelously. The biggest influence, once again, to quieten the most classic readers are Pink Floyd from before "Wish you were here" and the more cosmic Popol Vuh (Hosianna Mantra, In den Garten Pharaos, Aguirre…).

In summary, search for this marvel. I bought it for pure chance, as I saw the cover and I told myself, um um, I can like this, I listened ten seconds in Diskpol, and I didn't have more remedy than to buy it. This is a valley of peace, a rest for the ears, a watering of fresh blood for our heart. Simply WONDERFUL.

José Nafría - September 2000
rating - Omplatten

 

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