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Rikard Sjöblom's Gungfly: On Her Journey To The Sunday

Considering their slow, steady rise into the upper echelons of the prog rock genre, the sudden demise of Sweden's Beardfish was a shock to most. However, as the band's star climbed the sky, so their sound evolved into heavier places and as a result, even with a plethora of new followers, some long term observers felt left behind. Frontman Rikard Sjöblom went a long way to addressing that 'concern' with last year's solo effort, The Unbendable Sleep, an album of unashamedly 70s inspired prog daring to not just follow in the footsteps of Yes, Genesis, et-al, instead adding some psych elements and making it all sound somehow bang up to date. Now working under the name Rikard Sjöblom's Gungfly once more – On Her Journey To The Sun is actually the third album under that moniker – in truth, it would be easy to see this latest record as an extension of the Beardfish sound. Although I'd suggest OHJTTS actually sits neatly between mid-period Beard-dome and that sleep that proved so unmalleable.

Flanked by Beardfish guitarist David Zackrisson and another four fine musicians – Petter Diamant (drums), Rasmus Diamant (bass), and Serker Magnuss and Martin Borgh (both keyboards) – Sjöblom, who handles vocals, keys and guitars, is in superb form. As expected some obvious reference points hang out as the album unfolds, Genesis a touching point on the complex and ever evolving "Polymixia", while the bass meanders and guitar-vocals trade-offs in "Old Demons Die Hard" are out and out Yes. Equally expected however are the forays which show less interest in these welcome nods to the past, "The River Of Sadness" a more spacey and less constricted beast that knows when to push hard and when to let the atmosphere created take over, whereas the album's title cut possesses one of the most captivating vocal excursions to be found, Sjoblom employing a beautifully controlled falsetto to fix his vision in place. The more song based "He Held An Axe" and short ambient sound piece "All A Dream" add variety to the attack and not only keep things fresh, they also, rather cleverly, allow the lengthier prog set plays such as "Of The Orb" room, space and time to truly make an impact. An opportunity that is never wasted.

I must admit to having come to this album with sky high expectations, The Unbendable Sleep being one of my favourite albums of 2016. Being honest, initial encounters with On Her Journey To The Sun, while enjoyable, left me feeling a little underwhelmed. However, having let the album settle into place and revisited it on numerous occasions over a period of weeks has really allowed it to dig its claws in deep. It may not quite be up to the standard of his previous solo effort, but this latest Gungfly outing is still a mighty album and one that reconfirms Rikard Sjöblom as one of prog's leading lights.

Track Listing
1. Of The Orb
2. On Her Journey To The Sun
3. He Held An Axe
4. My Hero
5. If You Fall (Pt.1)
6. Polymixia
7. Over My Eyes
8. Old Demons Die Hard
9. Keith (The Son Of Sun)
10. The River Of Sadness
11. All A Dream

Added: May 7th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Rikard Sjöblom on facebook
Hits: 1731
Language: english

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