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Atlas - Blå Vardag CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.20 | 175 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Just when the golden decade of prog was reaching its end (and by then, prog rock had stopped being an important asset for the development of rock industry for quite a while), the Scandinavian part of Europe was yet to offer some more first class prog rock from Sweden. Atlas's "Blå Vardag" is one of the most beautiful and inventive prog albums of the 70s, and as such I can only start this review by recommending it unconditionally to all true lovers of the genre. The band's style is highly melodic, consistently pristine in its theme's developments, with an abundant dose of jazzy hints in the arrangements that provide a special dynamics to the band's overall symphonic trend. This is not canterbury of fusion-prog, although the band's sound displays some distinct, unmistakeable links to these types of approach: this is genuinely symphonic prog with a big room for jazzy ornaments. 76-77 Camel, Finch and early Kaipa are the most obvious references, not being as ballsy as the second and defintely getting to more places than their aforesaid compatriots. The dual keybaord input is a powerful sonic force for the elaboration and evolvement of the main motifs, mostly on synthesizer and organ, while the piano is preferently used for harmonies and basic scales, and the mellotron and string synthesizer build effective (yet not overwhelming) orchestral layers. Meanwhile, the rhythm section is constantly providing a solid foundation full of dynamics and a refreshing vibe. The main jazzy feel comes from guitarist Janne Persson's interventions, whose duties allow him to set a bridge between the partners-on-keys and the partners-at-rhythm while soloing here and there. Being a consistent album, the opener 'Elisabiten' might as well be described as a band's genuine manifesto: catchy and resonably complex, the empathetic listener is bound to be hopelessly hooked all the way towards the end. Wiith its 14 minute span, 'På Gata' gives plenty of room for the band to expand on their musical ideology with convenient intensity: the compenetration between all musicians is flawless, and so are the melodies' developments. The final result finds Atlas getting as majestic as it can be, with the final passages featuring a captivating touch of melancholy. Maybe it is an anticipation of what is to come for the namesake track, a beautiful track that stands up as the most poignant piece in the album (arguably). The way in which the lead guitar and the synth display their mutual duel with the electric piano washes floating underneath is simply irresistible. 'Gånglåt' brings some joyful candor in a very jazzy mood for less than 3 minutes, while 'Den Vita Tranans Våg' fuses melancholy and joie de vivre quite fluidly, almost matching the colorfulness of the first two numbers. So much of the band's official repertoire. The remaining three pieces are bonus tracks rescued for the CD edition. 'Björnstop', 'Hemifrån' and 'Sebastian', all of them offer a valuable continuity of the original setlist. These bonuses are not misplaced: they might as well be placed somewhere in between, but they also feel right in place as the CD's closing tracks. Not unlike Germany's Neuschwanstein or Italy's Maxophone, it only took one album (and a couple of bonuses) for Atlas to create a definitive progressive highlight for their own country's rock scene - in this case, Sweden.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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