Tonbruket is a band that defies categorization. The Swedish band's name roughly translates into English as "Tone Workshop," and they describe their music as "sticking closely to the essence of a composition's tone, melody, and groove." Bassist Dan Berglund, formerly of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, founded the group in 2009 with multi-instrumentalist, Johan Lindström, after the tragic death of pianist Esbjorn Svensson in 2008. Tonbruket aims to take the rock influence which is so loved by all the members of the group, and combine it with the sensibilities and improvisation of jazz.
For their latest release, Nubium Swimtrip, Tonbruket fulfilled a dream by recording in London's legendary Abbey Road Studios. The result is a progressive rock odyssey with countless different influences combining to create a masterpiece of modern composition, improvisation, and groove. Though Lindstrom acts as the chief composer of the group, the other members also contribute some compositions and it's clear that the songs on this album are the result of careful cooperation between the quartet.
The album opens with the dramatic and anthemic "A Road (to Anders Burman)." It's triumphal buildup is reminiscent of a rock opera prelude before fading out into a gentle afterglow of ambient noise, fading into the next tune. "Nightmusic" sets up a funky groove, which sets the perfect backdrop for some spacey solos and electronic effects. "Little Bruk" is a delicate but forward moving piano ballad and is one of the more "jazz" influenced pieces on the album.
"Liga" has a hard strumming acoustic guitar and one almost expects this to turn into truck-driving-music. But soon the violin and synthesizers come in to give the music an Eastern quality. It's almost reminiscent of some of the more Eastern-influenced songs by Led Zeppelin or King Crimson. The centerpiece of the album is the haunting title track, "Nubium Swimtrip." It's a dark, slow-moving, and atmospheric piece, played with careful cooperation by the quartet. The haunting steel guitar is reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon," and as the track progresses, it works up to a driving 6/8 pulse that fades away to an ambient fade out.
"The Harmonist" seems to move forward into the '80s with hard driving drums and plenty of synths and almost the feel of video game music. "Dukes and Wells" and "Arbat" continue the feel of driving synths and incorporate some voice sampling, also reminiscent of "Dark Side of the Moon." Both tunes seem to have a dark and intense feeling, giving an uneasy sense of paranoia.
"Peace" continues the same driving rhythm but this time with a more joyful sound to it. The synths and steel guitar once again combine to create that "Dark Side of the Moon" sound and releasing all the tension of the previous two tracks. Appropriately, "Closing" has a sense of finality and completion to it. "Floatsome" is a brief epilogue to the album and makes a beautiful statement with which to end the album.
With so many different sounds and influences presented on this album it is a difficult one to categorize. ACT Music is notorious for putting out genre-defying albums and Tonbruket has lived up to that expectation. The musicians in Tonbruket are all known as jazz musicians, but within this group they have shown that jazz sensibilities can be just as effective when used in rock music. This is a progressive rock album that captures the very essence of progressive rock. It transcends the genres it is inspired by to create new, original, and unique music that is worth listening to by fans of any genre.
A Road (to Anders Burman); Nightmusic; Little Bruk; Liga; Nubium Swimtrip; The Harmonist;
Dukes and Wells; Arbat; Peace; Closing; Floatsome.
Dan Berglund: double bass; Martin Hederos: piano, keyboards, violin; Johan Lindström: guitar,
pedal steel, keyboards, piano; Andreas Werliin: drums, percussion; Magnus Holmström: