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With its third release, Sweden's Gosta Berlings Saga articulates a story or two, correlating to the band moniker that is derived from a famous Swedish book, written by Selma Lagerlof, in 1891. It's the band's striking lyricism that rides above the power, grace and fluency and a profoundly balanced set, gushing with climactic theme-building episodes and mutable currents.
The ensemble possesses a vast playbook. With a steady stream of cunning arrangements and layered sound-shaping mechanisms, the compositions sustain interest on repeated spins. Unlike many other progressive rock units that seem more concerned with technical athletics and aimless workouts, this unit focuses on the totality of the presentation.
The band doesn't simply re-skin familiar prog-rock discourses, but abides by a comprehensive playbook that touches upon familiar turf, primarily yielding a distinct group-centric focus. "Island" foretells an eerie and isolated environ, heightened by Leo Svensson's musical saw work and Cecilia Linne's chamber-like cello voicings. However, the core unit builds tension with buoyant rock grooves and cascading melodies amid guitarist Einar Baldrursson's catchy riffs and the musicians' vivid imagery, perhaps chronicling a turbulent escape from confinement. Contrasts abound, evidenced by the whimsical frameworks executed on the quietly mesmeric "Gilese."
There are many variations and offsetting motifs. And with "Sorterargatan 1," a classic King Crimson vibe emanates via scorching upper register guitar ostinatos, dark effects, ominous hues and a forward-moving dirge. Even though the artists intersperse a sense of prog-rock familiarity into the overall context, they excel by crafting a mark of exclusivity throughout the manifold parts.