introThe beginning of “A Drop Of Light” was a bass line written on a Fender Rhodes keyboard late one night in November 2012 ... this is the first line of the booklet that you will find in the debut album of a Swedish project called “All Traps On Earth”. When I tell you that this is the project of Änglagård musician Johan Brand ... I know I have your full attention. And that is right because this is something special. I hear you thinking ... Again? ... yes again, because this is probably the album of the year for the open minded Prog lover. All music is written, arranged and produced by Johan Brand, with contributions from Thomas Johnson. The Italian AMS Records label who just released this album is talking about Magnificent Symphonic Prog from Sweden.
Thomas Johnson - Grand pianos, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzers, pianets, clavinet, organs, Mellotron M4000D, Moog Voyager
Erik Hammarström - drums: Tampa Artstar I (Cordia), cymbals, Yamaha Oak Custom Absolute Noveau snare drum, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, crotales, timpani, gran cassa, wood blocks, tam-tam, tubular bells
Miranda Brand - vocals
Phil Mercy - organic guitars; Magnus Båge - concert flute; Matthias Bååth - bass and concert flute, tenor and alto recorder; Fredrik Lindborg - bass clarinet, baritone, tenor, alto and soprano saxophone; Karl Olandersson - trumpet, flugelhorn
reviewJohan Brand told me in a messenger conversation that he was locked up in his studio for more than five years and is happy and proud that the album finally has been released. He is also proud of his daughter who is responsible for most of the vocals on this album. Only when he told me that she has enjoyed a Classical training I would believe him. What a great and mature voice this young girl has. A remarkable achievement of Miranda Brand.
The album has been released on a double vinyl, CD digipak, cassette and digital formats. And for the lucky few there is a limited box version that includes the double vinyl, CD and cassette formats together with a poster and sticker. There are only 100 copies and my copy has already number 44, so hurry up if you are interested. You can only buy this special box version at the official Italian distributor BTF of the Italian AMS Records label.
But what about the music? The album opens with the Classical trained voice of Miranda and delicate percussion before the first Mellotron strings can be heard. Soon after this the 18 minute opener “All Traps On Earth” will show all it’s beauty and complexity. My mind was impetuous searching for a reference to describe the music for my progVisions readers. An almost impossible task but my mind generated as it’s first thought the following description; Änglagård meets Isildurs Bane and King Crimson in Canterbury land. Hope this makes some sense to you. The music is diverse and often very complex. At some points the spirit of Änglagård wanders around and only for this first first track this album is a must buy for all the Änglagård fans. But there is so much more to be discovered in this music. The sound palette is very extensive and the music has often a dense instrumentation. Think besides all the keyboards and percussion also about instruments like bass clarinet, saxophones, trumpet, flute, flugelhorn, recorders, guitars and of course that bass. Besides the Symphonic and complex Prog structures you can also find some jazz fusion and Canterbury influences in this mind blowing opener. It is almost too much ... your reviewer is impressed and blown away by this intriguing, intelligent and often dark and complex music.
The next epic track is called “Magmatic Warning” and has a duration of more than 16 minutes. After the complexity of the overwhelming first track this second track has luckily also some rest points in the music. You can find some wonderful melodies in this track. Enjoy the amazing drum work and nice trumpet and flute solo’s. All the wind instruments of the musical guests are a valuable expansion of the musical palette. After thinking of the music of Änglagård, Isildurs Bane and King Crimson another band name crossed my mind while listening to the first parts of “Magmatic Warning”. I can hear the Canterbury element in the music, I had to think of the band National Health. But the music and vocals in the end are more into the vein of Magma. I am aware of all the name dropping in this review but you must see this as an attempt to describe this unique melting pot of musical styles. In overall the music on this album is dark and complex but as the album title already indicates there is a drop of light. This also counts for the following track, the 10:minute long song “Omen”. Beautiful Mellotron strings, intriguing trumpet parts and magical vocals. And throughout the whole album you can hear the unique bass playing of master Johan Brand. And as Johan told me, he is not only playing the Rickenbacker basses. After these three killer tracks of epic proportions the next little song “First Step” is a welcome rest point. A blissful and delicate piece with a remarkable melody. The album ends with the 14 minute track “Bortglömda Gardar (Forgotten Houses)”. The only track with lyrics, composed and sung by Johan Brand. Of course he is accompanied by the vocals of his daughter Miranda. The lyrics tell the story of beautiful old family houses standing and maturing around the Swedish countryside. It’s woven around life stories and fates, family traditions, childhood and aging. The houses remain as monuments to time, as echoes of the past. This song the icing on the cake. Love the use of the trumpet and the flute in this kind of music. The flute and the delicate piano in the end gives this remarkable album a fairytale like ending. After hearing this album for the first time the listener is left completely flabbergasted. Your brain is working on high speed to process all the information ... what have I been listening to! The only thing what you can do is to hear it again.