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Landberk - Indian Summer CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.63 | 109 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars By whatever stroke of grace or good fortune Scandinavia became a crucible of Progressive Rock in the 1990s, with Sweden in particular a nest of musical creativity to rival Italy in the '70s. The talent pool at the time was deep enough to hide even a first- rate outfit like LANDBERK, who in a perfect world could have rivaled the popularity of their compatriots in THE FLOWER KINGS (who, let's face it, were never really very Nordic, probably a key to their international success).

I first heard LANDBERK on the Musea label "Progfest '95" CDs, sandwiched in between the Japanese gender-bent ELP clone ARS NOVA and the high octane Latin language fusion of DEUS EX MACHINA (the previous year's compilation had introduced me to, among others, fellow Swede favorites ÄNGLAGÅRD and ANEKDOTEN). Landberk was the notable exception to the largely instrumental bias of the show: a song-based band with a spiky post-Punk guitar sound not far removed from JOY DIVISION or CRISPY AMBULANCE (or the pompous phonies of U2, if you want a really cheap comparison).

Likewise they also favored a mood of introspective gloom that the late Ian Curtis might have appreciated, although here it was expressed with a subtlety and nuance not often found in the typically grandiose ambitions of Progressive Rock. The music on this, their latest to date (and last ever?) studio album, is steeped in the same unique Midnight Sun melancholy, giving even the more up-tempo numbers ("Dustgod", "Dreamdance") an indelible air of wistful regret.

The production is sharp, the packaging is classy (again, unlike the histrionic visual overkill of too much Prog Rock cover art), and the performances are uniformly excellent. Listen to the relaxed yet confident drumming of Jonas Lindholm. Or Simon Nordberg's keyboards, employed more for atmospheric color rather than the usual virtuoso wanking. And Reine Fiske proves himself a guitarist of rare delicacy and understated strength. His playing over the long fade out of "All Around Me", or during the climactic chorus of "Why Do I Still Sleep" (I just now noticed the telling lack of a question mark in the song's title), is almost cathartic in its beauty, wringing out every last drop of emotion from his strings.

But is it really Progressive Rock? Only in the same sense that a thoroughly modern rock band like RADIOHEAD can be considered Prog: i.e. in the best, genuinely creative (and not simply derivative) sense of the word. And, of course, they use a mellotron too, so that certainly qualifies them as closet Progheads.

If this was truly LANDBERK's final album, and after an almost ten-year silence it's beginning to look likely, they can at least boast of having quit at the top of their game.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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