Formed in the early 90s, Anekdoten started as a King Crimson influenced heavy prog band, along with some other notables including Anglagard and Landberk. Although wearing their influences on their sleave so to speak, they are exceptional at what they do and have really developed their own sound over their last few albums. Taking that retro sound and shaping it into their own is what this band is all about. This is the way progressive music is meant to be played, with passion, integrity and emotion. These are qualities Anekdoten possesses in spades. Their is an underlying sadness in their version of heavy prog and this happens to be one of their most endearing qualities. Of course it doesn't hurt to be able to play, and man can this band play. Layers of guitar and waves of Mellotron weave in and out of the mix giving this music atmosphere and feeling. I have always felt there is a depth to their song writing, allowing the listener to peel back the layers and listen with a new found clarity, even in their densest compositions. As such, a new Anekdoten album is always something to look forward to. To date, the Swedish band have released five studio albums and three live albums. The band felt it was time to release a compilation album thus leading us to their new double CD Chapters.
The first disc, which should appeal to Floyd fans, contains songs from the last three albums that are band favourites. Starting with the sublime "Ricochet", with its Mellotron drenched soundscapes and wonderful melodies, this is a great way to start the album. Check out the wicked Farfisa organ solo and I love the voice of Jan Erik LiljestrÖm, sounding to me like the lead singer of The Psychedelic Furs. "The Great Unknown", taken from Time Of Day, begins with heavy guitar chords and Mellotron before setting a spacey vibe with a more mellow sound. The voice of Nicklas Barker reminds me Obscured By Clouds era Floyd, especially during the softer parts. The heaviness does return, building upon layers of guitar and Mellotron, towards a powerful ending. The Crimson-like"From Within" exudes darkness with its heavy discordant guitar riffage and pulsing beat. Again the music slows, as it so often does with this band, allowing the song's mood to fully blossom. The song invokes a dreamlike state, that is until the heaviness of crashing guitar chords and rich Mellotron lines returns once more. Disc 1 ends with "When I Turn", a previously unreleased gem with a gorgeous piano melody and a lush symphonic arrangement.
The second disc features material from their earlier albums a few of which are demo versions. The songs are thus more Crimsonesque in nature. Opening with the classic "Sad Rain", the title says it all. Spread over ten minutes of enduring sadness and a luxuriant orchestral arrangement, there are some spine tingling moments to be sure. The beautiful complexity that is "Wheel" is next featuring chaotic guitar rhythms and piercing woodwinds courtesy of Pär EkstrÖm. The haunting "The Old Man & The Sea" conveys a sense of eeriness as the guitars create a canvas rich in complexity and disjointed rhythms. Again the Mellotron is used to accentuate the mood.
I could go on and on but you get the point. This is a fabulous two CD set that should be mandatory listening for all progressive music fans. As usual, Anekdoten has raised the bar for the rest to follow. Another chapter has been written and as they say, the rest is history. Enjoy it while you can.
2. The Great Unknown
3. From Within
4. In For A Ride
5. The War Is Over
7. A Sky About To Rain
8. Every Step I Take
11. When I Turn
1. Sad Rain
3. The Old Man & The Sea
4. Nucleus (demo)
5. Book Of Hours (demo)
6. This Far From The Sky (demo)
7. Pieces (demo)
8. Prince Of The Ocean (demo)
Added: August 6th 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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Posted by Ryan Sparks, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-09 21:33:57
Any band that features not one, but two mellotron's so prominently in their music has got to be pretty serious about their progressive rock influences. Formed in 1991 Swedish band Anekdoten have been one of the leading acts paving the way for the next generation of prog rock. Their often lengthy, dark, melancholic compositions have kept fans of the genre satiated now for five full length albums. Chapters is an excellent two disc retrospective just released by Kscope Music, featuring nineteen songs covering the entire gamut of their career thus far.
Disc one concentrates primarily on material from their three most recent albums and songs such as "From Within", "Gravity" and "A Sky About To Rain" reveal a gorgeously murky, psychedelic current flowing through the gothic tinged arrangements. The densely layered mellotron work of Nicklas Barker and Anna Sofia Dahlberg takes these inherently brooding compositions to a whole other level. Speaking of Barker his metallic guitar work on "Groundbound" finds him taking a page directly out of the Robert Fripp school of crunch, circa 1974's Red album. Closing track "When I Turn", originally written back in 1997, makes its long awaited debut, thanks to a delicate piano contribution from Opeth's Per Wiberg.
Disc two highlights material from the bands early years and includes demo versions of no less than five tracks. This disc contains equally stunning performances, but really proves how far the band's sound has developed over the years. After hearing the sprawling epics "Sad Rain" and "Book Of Hours", coupled with the heavier more direct approach employed on "Nucleus", the King Crimson comparisons are once again certainly justifiable. I think the best way to enjoy this compilation is to start with the second disc and then move to the first, to really see how they moved past these comparisons and into more of their own sound.
If this is ends up being your introduction to Anekdoten, then you couldn't have picked a better place to start because Chapters provides a great overview of the bands career to date. After you make your way through this impressive collection of music, then it might be time to start seeking out each individual release for a more comprehensive look into one of Sweden's best kept secrets.
(originally reviewed for www.classicrockrevisited.com)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-08-06 18:56:19
Chapters is a 2CD retrospective from Sweden's Anekdoten, one of the leading bands in the prog upswing coming out of that country in the last 15 years. Through five studio releases and a few live albums, Anekdoten have amassed a sizeable collection of dark, melancholic prog rock, steeped with melodic vocals, gothic atmosphere, often times heavy guitar riffs, and waves of spooky Mellotron and organ.
The first disc in this set takes a look at some of the best material from the band's last few releases, Gravity, A Time of Day, and From Within, and there's plenty of gems on display here. Tracks such as the Mellotron & Farfisa organ soaked "Ricochet" leads into the rumbling riffs of "The Great Unknown", where grungy guitars battle Mellotron in what is just a fantastic song that is oh so Swedish, and the added flute just adds the right amount of tenderness. The complex, often times chaotic as well as tranquil "From Within" is like a collision between King Crimson and Anglagard, featuring plenty of weaving guitar, bass, and Mellotron, while "The War Is Over" is a more pastoral, folk styled number that brings to mind Opeth's more acoustic based work, with haunting Mellotron floating over some gorgeous vocals from Nicklas Barker and lush acoustic guitars. The Mellotron is again used to great effect on "A Sky About to Rain", a tune dripping with melancholy that sways between moments of hard rock bombast and dark, mellow tranquility. A similar feel can be heard on the monstrous epic "Gravity", a song that fuses heavy rock with Mellotron soaked progressive rock to near perfection, yet with plenty of groove and melody. As an added bonus, the song "When I Turn" appears here as well, a song that was written for but not included on the From Within release, and features guest piano from Opeth's Per Wiberg. It's a great track that will be a must hear for Anekdoten fans. For those who have followed this band from their humble beginnings, the selection of songs here on the first disc is clearly an indication of how this band has continued to grow and write great songs. Perhaps the best is yet to come? We shall see.
On to Disc 2, and you get a slew of rarities and older tracks from the early part of the band's career. The opening Mellotron strings of the majestic classic "Sad Rain" will instantly be recognizable to longtime fans of the band (and comes eerily close to the early King Crimson sound), as it was long one of their signature songs. "Wheel" is another haunting number from the Vemod album, complete with cello, flugelhorn, piano, Mellotron, thick guitar and bass riffs, and female vocals. Back in their earlier days, Anekdoten were somewhat of a grungier version of Anglagard, and you can certainly hear that on this track. "The Old Man & The Sea" is full of chaos and bombast, while the demo versions of "Nucleus", "Book of Hours", and "This Far From the Sky" are more raw and savage than what later appeared on the final mix of Nucleus in 1995.
This is about as complete as a retrospective can get for a band with only 5 studio albums to their credit. Kscope/Snapper have put together a great package here-the 2 CDs are housed in a neat digipack with some cool artwork, and the booklet is packed with photos, and a track by track listing showing who played on each song and info on the recording. If you've never discovered Anekdoten, this is a great place to start your investigation.
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