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For its eponymous debut (ACT, 2010) , this band was called Dan Berglund's Tonbruket. It was a new outfit, the first new venture by a member of Esbjorn Svensson after pianist Esbjörn Svensson's death in 2008, pretty much an unknown quantity. For Dig It To The End, bassist Berglund remains as an emphatic presence, but the band is simply Tonbruket. It's a clear indication that this is a democratic outfit, a band of equals, a group that can trade on its own namea group that is creating fine and beautiful music.
The somewhat scary cover illustration of Dig It To The EndLeatherface meets Elephant Man meets the Phantom of the Operamight suggest a doom-laden collection of metal-infused tunes. The opening bars of "Vinegar Heart" sound like that's the direction things are heading. Then there's a sudden transition to the calmness of Johan Lindstrőm's guitars and Andreas Werliin's gentle percussion, and suddenly an Americana sensibility pervades the music. In a couple of minutes Tonbruket has set out its manifesto: contrasts, surprises and delights that run the gamut from Pink Floyd prog-rock ("Balloons") and simple beauty (Berglund's "Lilo") to the elegant strangeness of "Gripe," with composer Martin Hederos' spectral piano.
Berglund is at the music's core, delivering fat, loping bass lines or mournful arco patterns as the occasion demands. His interplay with Hederos' piano on the melancholy "Lighthouse" is graceful and affecting, his solo on "Lilo" is warm-toned and rich. Werliin, from the remarkable Swedish duo Wildbirds and Peacedrums, works with Berglund to weave rhythmic patterns that are complex and intriguing yet ensure plenty of space for the lead instruments.
Tonbruket's key musical voice is Lindstrőm. As with the first album, Lindstrőm is the main composer, with six credits. His acoustic guitar playing is beautiful; on "Grandma's Haze" his fluid, rolling, finger-picking is akin to the great Michael Chapman. When he moves over to steel and electric guitars. the music takes on a more mysterious quality, "Le Var" floating and swooping, and "Trackpounder" featuring a wild surf guitar riff worthy of Dick Dale himself.
Dig It To The End demonstrates Tonbruket's inventiveness and vision across a collection of fascinating tunes. It's another triumph for ACT, surely one of the finest labels in contemporary music. It's an even greater triumph for Tonbruketa quartet of great distinction and an album of exquisite beauty.
Track Listing: Vinegar Heart; Balloons; Decent Life; Lilo; Lighthouse; Dig it to the End; Gripe; Grandma's Haze; Le Var; Trackpounder; Draisine Song.
Personnel: Dan Berglund: double bass; Johan Lindstrőm: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lap-steel guitar, pedal-steel guitar; Martin Hederos: piano, pump organ, keyboards, violin; Andreas Werliin: drums, percussion; Nino Keller: percussion (3, 9), drums (10); Tomas Hallonsten: Hammond organ (9).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.