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25 Apr 2017

Änglagård ‎ “Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan” 2014 Sweden Prog Rock Art Rock 2-LP`s






Änglagård ‎ “Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan” 2014 Sweden Prog Rock Art Rock 2-LP`s
May 14th of this year saw the release of a new Änglagård live album: Prog på Svenska? Live in Japan. Some of you may have been lucky enough to have been following Änglagård from the very beginning, but if you're anything like me, you came into the game when Änglagård's small catalog of music was either out of print or near impossible to find without spending a fortune; that is, with the exception of one little disc which somehow was available when snagging a copy of albums like Epilogue seemed to be a Herculean feat. That album was Buried Alive, the live recording of Änglagård's last show prior to their 1994 breakup. While the liner-notes of Buried Alive reveal a band that was not 100% satisfied, 20 years later with the release of Prog på Svenska?Live in Japan, Änglagård is back and going strong with a new live recording that is rich in dynamic and deep in maturity, a performance that I am confident that they are proud to immortalize for their fans.
Prog på Svenska represents the first of three consecutive nights that the masters of dark Swedish prog delivered at Club Città in Japan alongside The Crimson ProjeKCt (featuring the legendary Adrian Belew and Tony Levin). For me personally this is a special album that transports me back to when I witnessed their unbelievable performance only three weeks later at Baja Prog. Among a plethora of canonized acts at the festival (such as Hackett, New Trolls, and Three Friends), Änglagård's remarkable performance showed that they stand in no one's shadow. While there's nothing like being there in person, Prog på Svenska is about as good a live recording and performance as I've ever heard on disc. I certainly am jealous of the Japanese fans who got to see them three nights in a row last year.

The live-set on this album shows a balanced representation of the old and the new, featuring two tracks from each studio release along with an unreleased intro track which I assume (and hope) will be on Änglagård's next studio production. So that the anticipation doesn't kill anyone, I'll start right off with the new song: "Introvertus Fugu Part 1." Perhaps the first thing to know about this track is that it's our first look into the composition of the new band featuring Linus Kåse and Erik Hammarström alongside Anna, Johan, and Tord. I can happily say that "Introvertus" shows a band that knows how to move forward without abandoning the distinctive identity that they are known for, a fact that strongly hints at a powerful album to come in the future. The opening moments of the song show the band increasingly incorporating elements of modern classical and atonal music through the delicately dark chord changes on the piano before constructing a wave of tension with ambient bass noise, a distinctive guitar motif, and a descending melody on flute playing against tuned percussion. As the ambient textures continue to swell, a big percussive crash shockingly interjects, setting the stage for an ominous swelling of Mellotron chords, resulting in an eerily delightful sound. The intensity continues to build with a drum roll on snare and cymbals that transition the piece into an aggressive angular instrumental attack featuring howling Minimoog modulation; enter a fiercely dark melody which is doubled or harmonized on most instruments before the band takes the listener into their signature dose of woodsy folkiness. Johan and Linus continue pounding in the rhythm section before the eerie central motif returns to bring "Introvertus" towards its close with the full force of Anna and Linus' dueling woodwinds, one hanging on the melody while the other produces chaotic squeals before withering off the melody in a very unsettling (but cool) way.

After kicking it off with an exciting intro the band takes us back 20 years with "Hostsejd." The rich dynamics, especially the meticulously controlled Mellotron swells, really shine on this one while some small differences in instrumentation (such as the sax on the first main melody instead of flute) really keep the piece fresh and exciting. Although I was craving the intro on the follow up track, "Längtans Klocka," the supreme level of interplay between all instruments that starts off the piece is fantastic. Furthermore, the guitar/Mellotron duet at about 6:30 that leads into a memorable theme is quite the highlight. Finally, the circus-y melody towards the end of the song somehow becomes even more diabolic in this slightly stripped down version as Tord's demented waltzy riff serves as a perfect backdrop for the drunken saxes. Speaking of Tord, it certainly is nice to see him back in the band, and I must add that his guitar playing and sense of emotion is perfect for the band and has improved over the years. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated on "Jordrök," a quintessential song in Änglagård's catalog. The reality of the matter is that despite the fact that the band was quite mature at the time of Hybris' release, their capacity to bring out all the nuances in pieces like this shows that they are musicians who have truly refined their craft over the years. "Jordrök" sounds more alive than ever; the Mellotron flute section in the middle, one of the band's absolute trademark melodies, is to die for, and Linus' superb use of phrasing and pacing in the piano intro certainly takes this classic piece up several notches.

Moving deeper into the performance we see "Sorgmantel," one of my personal favorites from Viljans Öga. The first thing I noticed about this particular performance is that the intro sounds much more raw due to differences in instrumentation, this version starting out with a guitar and bass call and response. While I absolutely adore the studio version, this new arrangement and performance was also wonderful and brought its own set of advantages to the table. First, the bass/guitar duet at the beginning really exposes the melody and shows you that its not just about fancy instrumentation, it's a gorgeous melody through and through. Second, the band is not concerned in the least bit with rushing through the performance of this piece; the pacing is delicate, precise, and emotional with plenty of space for ritard and sway as the intro melody gets passed around from guitar to bass and flute and is then countered by the piano, making the fugue-nature of this piece even more evident. The playing is incredibly tight but busting with dynamic throughout as "Sorgmantel" takes its many twists and turns before working its way to a quiet ending; graceful? even breathtaking.

To wrap up the night, Änglagård once again goes back to the early 90′s, this time with "Kung Bore" and "Sista Somrar." Although the former leans more on the folky side of the band, as does much of their first album, the highlight of the piece actually ended up being the mysterious and ambient middle section where the band shows that they have mastered perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of music: playing quietly with vibrant emotion. Between the light swells of guitar, weird effects on bass, a steady organ pattern in the upper register, and a lightly beating drum, this section goes beyond merely doing justice to the original. Finally, the depth and emotion of "Sista Somrar's" slow, dark intro is, quite frankly, deadly, and goes miles deeper than the original studio recording (which was in and of itself very impressive) as an ominous sax melody flanked by stormy percussion and effects guides us to the unleashing of an uncanny tron female solo voice that will haunt your nightmares for weeks to come.

In my opinion, Prog på Svenska?Live in Japan is an essential live album that you don't want to miss out on. Quite honestly, I am a person who rarely enjoys live albums because oftentimes the performances and production are either significantly worse than the studio recording, or the live version ends up being stripped down to the point where there's just something missing, or the band simply doesn't offer an experience which is significant enough to enjoy the live version deeply; in most cases you sort of 'had to have been there' to get what's so great about it. Such is not the case with Änglagård's latest live documentation. From the performances to the production and the differences in detail from the originals, Prog på Svenska is a stellar capturing of live art through and through. And of course, I might add that if you ever get the chance to see Änglagård perform, take the opportunity; if your significant other isn't a prog fan, take them anyways. Änglagård's extreme level of delicacy in phrasing and dynamic is a tough match to beat in progressive music and should hold up even in the face of the snootiest of music connoisseurs......by Progulator ...........

 So we finally get a live ANGLAGARD album that the band is actually happy with. The "Buried Alive" recording was one the band didn't want released as they felt their performance wasn't up to par, as well as not being overly happy with the sound quality. Well I thought it was excellent but I have to admit they have stepped up their game here and the sound quality is simply perfect. The music was recorded from three shows they did at Club Citta in Japan back in March of 2013. If I was trying to describe this band to someone who hadn't heard them i'd say their mellow bits were like GENESIS, very beautiful, while the heavier sections bring a muscular KING CRIMSON to mind, especially with the mellotron dominating the sound at times. I love how upfront the bass is as well.
So we get two tracks from each of their three studio albums plus a new one that they opened the shows with each night called "Introvertus Fugu Part 1". In describing the opening number i'm going to let their own description in the liner notes do the talking. "This little rascal that we simply call "Introvertus Fugu Part 1" came about when a Rickenbacker bass line collided with a short atonal vibraphone sequence one day at a rehearsal. The bass line developed into the full-band main section, and together with a flute melody the vibraphone formed a counterpoint. Then the stone was rolling. Distant sparse piano, eerie guitar notes and tubular bells were initially heard. A hell- break-loose rhythm section banging next to squiggly guitar, mellotron and nasty organ followed. For the last section we brought in uproaring saxaphones and...Yes, part of the live experience as a whole, but it also became a natural and important starting point for us a group in the art of crafting". "Hostsejd" is from "Epilog" and is classic stuff. Organ and mellotron can be heard before these massive bass lines arrive followed by a full sound. We will continue to get the contrasts between the loud and mellow. Amazing song. "Langtans Klocka" from "Viljans Oga" is fairly relaxed until the guitar arrives 2 1/2 minutes in and it all starts to come alive. Great instrumental display here before a calm arrives before 4 minutes. Killer bass at times as the contrasts of laid back and full speed ahead continue. Love the guitar in this one and it ends in an insane manner.

"Jordok" from "Hybris" is simply brilliant. Before the song begins one of the members of ANGLAGARD tells the audience that they've been wanting to get to Japan for 20 years. Again the contrasts between the beautiful and the powerful sections is breathtaking. Flute, mellotron and guitar create wonder then the muscular bass kicks in with storming mellotron and frantic drum work. Just a killer track and the final minute is gorgeous. "Sorgmantel" from their latest album "Viljans Oga" begins disc two. This stays mellow with flute, piano, bass and more until it becomes fuller before 2 minutes then even fuller a minute after that. The bass is ground-shaking after 4 minutes then the guitar leads briefly. A GENESIS soundscape follows as themes are repeated. Again the contrasts the rest of the way are so inspiring to me. "Kung Bore" from "Hybris" opens with piano as it builds rather quickly. A beautiful calm before 3 minutes with flute, strings and more as fragile vocals arrive. Again we get some killer moments when it turns heavy then when the mellow pieces float in i'm in awe once again. Big finish to this one as the crowd roars it's approval. The final song is "Sista Somrar" from "Epilog" and it was actually recorded during a sound check before their final concert. Melancholy to start before it turns haunting before 5 minutes. Then it kicks into gear as contrasts once again continue. It's haunting again after 8 minutes as themes are repeated. This song is just an incredible way to end this recording.

When it comes to live albums this one is going to be right near the top of my all-time favourite live recordings. Crystal clear sound and band who would intimidate many other bands out there with how well they play these complex and emotional compositions. I'm not worthy!....by Mellotron Storm ............

In March of 2013, legendary Swedish symphonic progressive rock band, Änglagård played a series of concerts over three nights at the Club Citta, Tokyo, sharing a bill with The Crimson ProjeKCt. Änglagård, now with a revised lineup, present a unique take on progressive rock with influences such as Swedish folk music, old school progressive rock like King Crimson, Genesis, and Dun, and classical music, all wrapped in a very dynamic and symphonic style. Whereas many symphonic prog bands place the rock first and classical second, Änglagård mix the ‘sturm und drang’ of classical music with rock instrumentation such as electric guitar, bass, and synths along side prog rock experimentation.

I had the immense honor of seeing Änglagård at 2012’s North East Art Rock Festival (NEARfest) and it was one of my most cheerished live music experiences. Over the past few days, I’ve been transported back to that weekend in June with this new live record which presents a well-documented and energetic performance from one the most perfection-driven group of musicians I know.

The track selection here represents every one of Änglagård’s three studio albums with some staples (“Jordrök” – the classic opening track from the 1992 debut, Hybris and “Höstsejd” from the Epilog album) as well as some lesser known tracks (“Sorgmantel” and “Längtans Klocka” from 2012’s Viljans Oga and “Kung Bore” from the debut). To me, this provides a nice cross section of the band’s repertoire, as we get a taste of what the new lineup is capable of through the presentation of familiar material.

I use the word ‘familiar’ above somewhat loosely, though, as even the older pieces have demonstrated some growth since we last heard them. On all of the pieces, the band have altered the tempos and added some new sounds (such as the recorder on “Jordrok”) and new saxophone parts and synthesizer sounds on a few other pieces. One of the things that makes or breaks a live record, for me, is the arrangements. With Änglagård, the arrangements are constantly in flux and that makes these tracks worth hearing and the record worth buying. I personally feel a bit ripped off when a band plays the same arrangements time and time again, but Änglagård constantly challenge themselves and their listeners.

In addition to the older pieces, we also get one new piece on this record – “Introvertus Fugu Part I”. Clocking in at just under seven minutes, this is the shortest piece on the album and probably the biggest draw for Änglagård fans. Beginning with some spacey piano chords and a disjointed arrangement, the piece gradually rises from freeform chaos to dynamic Crimson-y Änglagård form that develops throughout its short (by Änglagård standards) runtime to a thrilling conclusion, leaving the listener breathless and yearning for Part II. If this is what is in store of Änglagård’s fourth album (to be released next year), then we are in for a real treat.

As for the performances here, they are nothing short of stunning. The newest members seem to fit in with the established style of the group, while flautist Anna Holmgren continues to develop her gorgeous, vibrato-laden lower register while Johan Brand taps into his Chris Squire meets Jannick Top Rickenbacker brilliance. Essential stuff for fans of progressive rock. If this band comes anywhere near you, go out and support this music, it’ll be a concert experience you’ll never forget...............

For many prog heads the legendary progressive rock band Änglagård belongs to the best Swedish prog bands. Their music, mostly inspired by King Crimson, certainly contains great moments and their short back catalogue of only three studio albums feature some outstanding pieces. Unfortunately I never had the chance to witness one of their concerts mainly because the band hardly tours around the world. However, recently I got the opportunity to discover the band's musicianship while performing their complex music in front of an audience. Of course, I wasn't actually present at the venue, but I listened to Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan, a live album recorded from a number of shows performed in 2013. This double CD is the band's second live album after Buried Alive (1996).

In March 2013 Änglagård played a series of three concerts at Club Citta, Tokyo in Japan to promote their latest studio album Viljans Öga (2012). At the time they were sharing the bill with The Crimson ProjeKCt. They performed with a varied track list and a revised line-up including Anna Holmgren (flute, saxophone, Mellotron, recorder), Johan Brand (bass, Taurus bass pedals, atmospheric sound), Tord Lindman (guitar, vocals, gong, atmospheric sound), Linus Käse (Hammond organ, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes piano, Moog Voyager, piano, soprano saxophone, vocals) and Erik Hammarström (drums, cymbals, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, cran casa, gong).

This live CD contains songs from all three studio albums. It features fine pieces like Jordrök and Kung Bore from the debut album Hybris (1992), a real beauty like Höstsejd from Epilog (1994) and tracks as Sorgmantel and Längtans Klocka from Viljans Oga. In addition to the older pieces, you also get one brand new piece on this record, namely Introvertus Fugu, part I, which was previously unreleased. This new piece shows that the band can still write fantastic prog rock tunes! Since Änglagård are pre-eminently a live act you won't hear the same versions that can be enjoyed on the studio albums. This is something I always like about live records. What's the point of releasing live cd's that sound identical as the studio versions you already own?

People who share my vision about live albums are probably fond of music with a lot of improvised parts and long solos, just like me. Well, you'll certainly make a good choice by buying Prog På Svenska - Live in Japan. Of course, the complex music on this album is not everybody's cup of tea, but when you've reached the point of understanding the music you'll have a good time listening to these recordings. In my opinion not one single second on this great double live album is boring. It's just a fine addition to my already large collection of live albums. So, to all the musicians involved in this live project I can only say: well done!......Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)............

Progressive rock juggernaut Anglagard reformed to acclaim in 2012, releasing the quite excellent Viljans Öga (AMN review here). They are back again with this 2CD live album featuring tracks from their fractured 20-year history. Recorded in Japan in mid-March of last year, the group consisted of only five members rather than the usual six. While my initial concern was that this one-guitar lineup would be unable to reproduce the nuanced layers than make up the Anglagard guitar-guitar-flute-keyboard-bass-drums sound, they manage to meticulously cover material from all three of their studio albums. In some places, guitar replaces keyboards or sax replaces guitar, but the renditions here rarely diverge from the originals.

The album begins with the only new piece, the seven-minute, atmospheric Introvertus Fugu. Following that is Hostejd from their second album, Epilog. While Hostejd was never one of my favorites due to it being stiffly composed, the group pulls off a compelling and workmanlike rendition. The last two tracks are Langtans Klocka from Viljans Öga, and the powerful Jordrok from their debut Hybris, both stellar examples of symphonic progressive rock.

The second disc features only three tracks. It begins with the majestic Sorgmantel, probably Anglagard’s most involved track to date, and finishes with Kung Bore and Sista Somrar, the former the only track on this set with vocals. Handling vocal chores are original member Tord Lindman, as well as Linus Kase. While vocals were never Anglagard’s strong suit (as they were never featured after Hybris) , they are carried out quite well here. As for Sista Somrar, this rendition contains an atmosphere that evokes the change to darkness that the track represents.

As noted above, the material on Prog på Svenska is an accurate reproduction of the music on Anglagard’s studio releases. Unlike types of rock and jazz that involve improvisation, this live recording does not offer much in the way of a new reading on the Anglagard oeuvre. However, it is still a winner for fans of the band, especially since the group’s recorded output is rather minimal....by Mike.....

Line-up / Musicians
- Anna Holmgren / flute, saxophone, Mellotron, recorder and melodica
- Johan Brand / bass, Moog Taurus basspedals and atmospheric sound
- Tord Lindman / guitar, vocals, gong and atmospheric sound
- Linus Kåse / Hammond organ B-3, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, Moog Voyager, piano, soprano saxophone and vocals
- Erik Hammarström / drums, cymbals, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, cran casa, gong

Tracklist
A1 Introvertus Fugu (Den Asociala Blåsfisken) Part 1 6:56
A2 Höstsejd 11:25
B1 Längtans Klocka 11:14
B2 Jordrök 12:56
C1 Sorgmantel 12:40
C2 Kung Bore 15:20
D1 Sista Somrar 16:00 

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