Oh, Joy!! You know, that kind of happy feeling that you get when you listen to a band, at first not really expecting great things for whatever reason, and then the soundscape and music just blows you away. That's exactly what's happened to me with this album of Swedish band Blandbladen: it was the third album in a row by progressive label Transubstans Records that I'd set out to review within a week - the other two were good but not "out of this world" (Faith and Robin Taylor's CDs, whose reviews are posted on this site). I expected similar from Blandbladen's I Grevens Tid but, very soon after starting to listen, began to feel quite excited about what I was hearing, despite the music being totally instrumental (I tend to prefer some singing or vocalisation). I listened again the following day, to make sure I hadn't been hallucinating....no, I really do enjoy this album - in fact, it's the best instrumental album that I've heard for some time.
The band's soundscape reminded me of pre-Snow Goose Camel. There's no flutes here, but it is the playing style and sound-choice of guitar and keyboards that takes me back there. Also, and perhaps more, so did the rhythm section playing: in particular the drumming style reminded me very much of Andy Ward's from those early days. Whilst the rekindled memories were of early Camel, the soundscape is not identical, certainly not to Camel's only totally instrumental album (Snow Goose). I have come to think of this as perhaps the album that Ward wanted to make with Camel but never did, perhaps because that band was led by Andy Latimer in a different direction - I Grevens Tid has more systematic jazz influences than appeared on Camel's soundscape.
I might have got that slightly wrong of course, but to me this is instrumental progressive rock with a light infusion of jazz that includes some sound experimentation. The latter is never excessive and always well integrated into the music - in other words, it is not like some jazz experimentation where you struggle to hear the musicality; no, musicality is always a feature of this particular soundscape. The band themselves describe their music as "instrumental psychedelic progressive space rock, also inspired by some Swedish folk music." You get plenty of pace, as well as changes of pace, beautifully played lead and rhythm guitar jousting for pre-eminence with the keyboards and the music ranges from spacey to jazzy and even to heavyish rock - certainly on "Dimland" there is enough meat for the headbangers to come into action, and possibly elsewhere too.
Instrumental music is not everyone's favourite of course (it's not mine!) but you might enjoy this if the references above have stirred your interest. I've included the link to the band's MySpace page where you can listen to a couple of tracks from the album for yourself.
This band was formed in 2001 but took a sabbatical from 2004 until late last year. I Grevens Tid was actually recorded and self-released as a CD-R in 2003 and has only this year been given a "proper" release by Transubstans - well done them! The reformed band includes a new bass player and are currently recording a new CD - woohoo!, bring it on!!
1) I Grevens Tid (12;06)
2) Pa Gron Kvist (6:10)
3) I Afton Trans (12:57)
4) Dimland (13:53)