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Ragnarök - Ragnarök CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.04 | 108 ratings

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4 stars What a seductive sound these guys make! All instrumental, sometimes bordering on a seventies porn-soundtrack sound (particularly “Promenader”), but Ragnarök show some clear early psych and even jazz influences to help soften the melancholy that seems to pervade just about all progressive Scandinavian music. The result is a soothing but occasionally adventurous album that is a joy to listen to over and over.

The instrumentation here opens with quite of bit of acoustic guitar and flute, and while both remain in play throughout it doesn’t take long before the electric guitar and bass make themselves known, as well as saxophone (though the brass is quite subdued for the most part). Multi-instrumentalist Henrik Strindberg plays guitar, flute and saxophone, and also provided most of the arrangements. Strindberg would go on to produce a long string of solo and collaborative contemporary classical/new-age works under his own name although he still is associated with the band, which still tours. They have not released a new studio album under the name Ragnarök in more than sixteen years though.

There is a distinctly neo new-age sound on some tracks, especially “Fabriksfunky” and “Dagarnas Skum”, while others like “Tatanga Mani” and “Nybakat Bröd” are much more acoustic and folkish than most of the album. I personally wouldn’t classify these guys as folk though – the jazz and new-age tendencies are a bit too strong for that. But this is closer than their next album which would be a much more ambient and frankly dull affair with an almost completely different lineup.

The standout track here is “Dagarnas Skum”, an eight minute offering that spends about half its length building like some sort of early post-rock composition before wandering off into jazz/fusion territory in a muted form of a jam session. An unexpected but not unwelcome focus shift that culminates in a repetitive and hypnotic guitar passage that gives life to an otherwise very mellow section of the album.

I wouldn’t rank these guys up there with any of the great Swedish prog bands like Änglagård, Fläsket Brinner, or probably even Flower Kings. But they do what they do quite well, and the production on this album is impeccable. Not for those who want the music to be at the forefront of whatever they are doing, but if you are looking for something ambient that won’t put you to sleep and may cause you to perk up your ears every few minutes, this may be your album.

Here once again our rating system fails us, as this is about as close to a 3.5 star album as I have heard in quite a while. But in deference to the high technical quality of the musicianship, and in recognition that these guys manage to avoid the Scandinavian pill-swallowing depression that so much music from that region evokes, I’ll push that up to four stars and call it good.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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