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Moon Safari - Himlabacken Vol. 1 CD (album) cover


Moon Safari


Symphonic Prog

3.93 | 297 ratings

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5 stars "Moon Safari, Himlabacken, Volume One (By Don Suhaka)

When the Yes classics, "Close to the Edge,' "Tales...," "Relayer" and "Going for the One" came out in the early seventies, I was as giddy to get my hands on the new 'Yes' LPs as a kid at Christmas time. With my unexpected discovery of Moon Safari's AMAZING and PHENOMENAL music, 5 years ago, they have become my new 'Yes.'

I adore their music and they are now at the top of my list, along with a very small number of elite prog-rock bands, as a favorite of mine for all time (I go back as a teenager to the mid sixties when John, Paul, George and Ringo burst on the scene, and the men of 'Yes,' 'Genesis' and the like were in their teens and still unknown).

Now, in 2013, I recently downloaded "Himlabacken Volume 1" from Band Camp with some trepidation. I wondered how this 46 minute offering would measure up to the exceptional releases, "Blomljud" and "Lover's End" (including "Skelleftea Serenade"), two of the GREATEST albums ever.

So here is the low down! "Himlabacken Volume 1" is another Moon Safari masterpiece! It is simply among the best rock music that I have ever heard! "Himlabacken" (or "Heaven Hill") is more daring and challenging to me (in a Gentle Giant sort of way) than the previous releases (as unbelievably excellent as "Blomljud" and "Lover's End" are).

The music on Himlabacken plays like an "opera." Each song leads into the others in such a way that it feels like one long epic. The (1) generally refreshing and uplifting lyrical themes (like "Blomljud") of the bands youth, (2) coupled with vocal and choral arrangements beyond anything rock has ever seen (forget Queen and the Beach Boys) and (3) supported by the highly concentrated and wonderfully powerful/beautiful music itself, makes relatively short songs (the longest on "Himlabacken is about 9 minutes in length) as impactful as a 20 minute epic.

The offerings on "Himlabacken" are like "ZIP' or "FLAC" audio files; all of the data in a smaller package! It really is quite miraculous to me! In fact, my main observation of "Himlabacken" is that the music is very highly focused and concentrated, like dehydrated food for the soul and spirit.

I have scoured Prog Archives for years to find and enjoy the releases of such fine artists as "Steven Wilson " (Raven) "Big, Big Train" (English Electric 1 and 2) "Anglagard," "Haken," "iamthe morning," etc. To each his own but, but for me, these artists have not reached the heights of Moon Safari.

I do not do "song by song" reviews (I will leave this to the capable hands of other reviewers). Each song, though, on "Himlabacken" is great and unique! There is not an idle note on it.

During the great movie, "Amedeus," (a tribute to the genius of Mozart) after the initial performance of a new opera in Vienna, the Emperor praises Mozart, but qualifies his praise with the statement that "there are too many notes." Mozart, replies, "which notes would you have me take out, when it is perfect as it is."

That is my take on "Himlabacken Volume 1," it is "perfect" as it is and I would not take out or add a single note. Even the Pontus provided love-in-ballad for his new son is just perfect (coming from a grandpa who has 17 grand kids).

Here is a warning though, "Himlabacken" may not be as accessible as some of their early music. I, along with others, have previously labeled Moon Safari music as Pop-Prog. This one is a bit less popish, with more of an operatic-like, Symphonic Prog feel.

One early review I read (which was very positive, with a 10 out of 10 rating) suggested, though, that Moon Safari should somewhat vary their vocal arrangements. Please Simon, don't change a thing!!! The vocals are "sublime." According to my ears, you and your band mates are already making Mozart "smile" in his grave. Himlabacken Volume 1 is PERFECT!!!

"Smiling," that is the effect of Moon Safari on me. Even with Peter's openly revealed "broken heart" on "Lover's End"; I just always seem to walk away from their music with a smile. A smile that suggest that, "Yes is dead, long live the King." I have a new King for my musical kingdom and they come from the Moon. Thank you and thank you again, gentlemen!!!

Now, I must make a plea, unsolicited, in-behalf of this band we love.

The men of Moon Safari are brilliant, not just as evidenced by the genius of the their music and their new offering, but their approach to their craft.

We live in a musical age dominated by the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, etc. The most popular bands are "nice, 'very good" and "charismatic" like "Coldplay" or the up and coming "Imagine Dragons."

But how does a progressive rock band make it, when prog-rock as a genre, is so obscure that even Yes can barely fill a small theatre (of course that is without Jon and Rick)? In other words, how do the Moon Safarian's make enough money to break even?

The good news is that they make music because they are GREAT at it and it is the "syrup in our veins." The music has to come out!! They are also unfettered by the pressure of a large recording contract as they operate, independently; yet with a bottom line that must be met or they and their wives and families would starve.

Back in the days of Bach and Mozart, patrons largely paved the financial road for these geniuses so that they could concentrate on their music. In this age, many people just steal music, digitally, from the artists (shame). Not me! I love Moon Safari so much that I can't stop listening (it's crazy) or supporting them in every way possible.

But once again, how can they flourish with such a relatively small fan base? The answer; by releasing their music in stages!

"Blomljud" was an amazing 100 minutes long! "Lover's End" was half that length and I remember, at the time, asking the guys why so much shorter? Their reply to me was indicative of their brilliance, "we want people begging for more."

I felt during my initial review of "Lover's End" that as great as it was, it was an epic short of being one of the GREATS of all time. Then, to our shock and delight they release the "Skelleftea Serenade," one of the finest epics ever, to complete their masterpiece. I would have paid a pretty penny to get my hands on it, and yet it only cost me 8 dollars (in addition to the original cost of the "Lover's End" CD).

So what does all of this rambling mean? Simply that the new offering is only "Volume One." They released 46 minutes worth of incredible music on "Heaven Hill, One," which is played and sung as if by angels from above.

We buy it (hopefully), go crazy for it and wait for volume two to be released like crazed drug addicts. In the meantime we listen to volume one, again, and again, and again....... Their business strategy is as brilliant as their music, and we need to support them financially (i.e., don't steal from them).

dhull | 5/5 |


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