After 15 years as the bassist for Swedish supergroup e.s.t.and, at least to the public eye, to the exclusion of all elsethe big question about Dan Berglund was, after the group tragically dissolved following the untimely death of pianist Esbjorn Svensson
, what next? Well, considering Berglund's roots were always more in rock than jazzhis signature delayed and overdriven arco the closest a double-bass has ever come to heavy metalit's no surprise that Dan Berglund's Tonbruket
leans more towards the rock end of the spectrum, sharing little in common with his previous gig other than his own inimitable sound.
Still, Berglund's groupa misnomer, since it's really an egalitarian collective, with the majority of the music written by Johan Lindström, who plays guitars, lap and pedal steel and pianoisn't exactly a rock band either. An unmistakable melancholy pervades much of the musiceven when the quartet ratchets up the heatand a compositional approach considerably distanced from e.s.t.'s pop-song aesthetic, despite a similar underlying lyricism. Instead, Tonbruketa concocted Swedish term that loosely means "music factory"is more epic and cinematic. Much of Tonbruket sounds like music from an imaginary film; the countrified closer, "Waltz for Matilda," could easily sit alongside American guitarist Ry Cooder's haunting soundtrack to Wim Wenders' 1984 film, Paris, Texas, with its dark groove, layered steel guitars, and soft pulse.
The only song that resembles e.s.t. is, unsurprisingly, Berglund and Lindström's collaborative "Song For E," where keyboardist Martin Hederos' organ creates a gentle cushion for his spare pianism, played on a slightly out-of-tune piano that lends the song a curiously poignant and personal feeling. Berglund also takes a pizzicato solo that's one of the most profoundly lyrical and heartfelt of his career.
Elsewhere, drummer Andreas Weliin pushes hotter and heavier pulses, as Lindström's steel guitars create, along with Berglund's distorted arco, a sound unlike any other. Werliin's episodic "Sister Sad" covers considerable terrain over six short minutes, from its painfully beautiful introa gentle confluence of plucked bass, steel guitar, and warm washesto an accelerating, head-banging middle section, Tonbruket's roots may be in rock, but clearly of the more progressive kind.
Hederos' "Sailor Waltz" on the other hand, comes from a darker place, where European classicism leads to a muted piano solo of controlled abandon. If jazz is any part of Tonbruket's equation, it's in the ample solo space provided to Hederos, Lindström, and Berglund on this, the disc's longest piece at nearly ten minutes. Berglund's uncharacteristically clean arco leads seamlessly to a recapitulation of the song's theme, gliding along with elegant inevitability.
Hederos' accordion and Lindström's acoustic guitar lend "The Wind And The Leaves" folkloric authenticity, while jagged electric guitars and thundering drums give both "Wolverine Hoods" and "Monstrous Colossus" greater power. This may be rock-informed music, but it's a far cry from Berglund's heavy metal roots. Dan Berglund's Tonbruket may document a group still in its infancy, but demonstratesand deliversa confident promise of more to come.
Personnel: Johan Lindström: acoustic and electric guitars, lap- and pedal-steel guitars, piano (10); Martin Hederos: piano, pump organ, violin, keyboards, accordion; Dan Berglund: double bass; Andreas Werliin: drums.