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Kebnekajse - Kebnekaise II CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.95 | 82 ratings

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3 stars Swedish tribal-folk for the fireside

Kebnekaise is a Swedish prog-folk outfit featuring guitarist Kenny Hakansson. This album is their most oft-mentioned, a collection of Swedish folk as a starting point blended with a sort of hippie idealism and improvisation (mostly guitar). Besides guitar the album is driven largely by fiddle and percussion of the fireside variety.

"Rättvikarnas gånglåt" is the most overtly traditional sounding song to my American ears which are admittedly not too up on Swedish traditional folk. While this song seems to be dismissed by some it was my favorite part of the album. I really enjoyed the wordless vocals of Turid Lundquist as she sort of croons away to the repetitive, swaying melody of the violins and drumming. I guess it appeals to me because it is so different from music I hear on any regular basis. With "Horgalaten" the album shifts to its main focus which is a trippy counterculture bending of Swedish folk music. Slowly working the rhythm section to luke warm, the dual guitars of Kenny Hakansson and Ingemar Bocker begin to explore---the conversational tone of their playing is quite developed and impressive I must say, teamwork in action. They hear each other and they compliment each other rather than simply trading off with each other. "Skänklåt från rättvik" features very bright sounding lead guitar over a rhythmic, repetitive fusion of violin/bass/percussion that is the modus operandi of the album. In some ways the feel of these jams is not unlike the Grateful Dead carrying on for 15 minutes to "Fire on the Mountain." Nationality differences aside, you have able musicians thinking out loud on their instruments to percussion not unlike the Micky Hart variety. As with the Dead, occasionally the peaks can be exciting but sometimes things can get a bit static. "Barkbrödlåten" is more of the same, nice but nothing earth shattering. "Comanche Springs" has a rather tepid intro before breaking to a jog with some nice clean guitar leads over drumming and hand percussion. The congas begin to increase in intensity which drives the guitars to more frantic playing. The bass is a bit buried in the mix but the guitar and percussion are heard well. Soon we get some violin entering the fray and mixing with the lead guitar. After an extended congo solo section the violin comes in and the pulsing rhythmic sound achieved suddenly sounds like Alamaailman Vasarat for a bit. More sensitive and thoughtful lead guitar returns and continues to trade off with the violin to the tribal drumming.

A 14 minute live version of "Horgalaten" is featured as a bonus track on Silence Records SRSCD-3608 reissue. The sound isn't perfect of course but how nice to get such a rare document from this group. As you'd expect the guitar playing is even less inhibited (not that the studio version is!) The CD booklet features a nice history with photos although only in Swedish unfortunately. Kebnekaise is a good album though not terribly essential in my view. I think there are more exciting prog-folk entries out there. These guys are average musicians with some nice extended jams that will appeal to some and bore others. Check it out if you're interested in Swedish rock or long, mostly laid back jamming. I think their sound is just unique enough to have in your collection but I'm not sure how often you'd reach for it.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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