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Atlas - Blå Vardag  CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.19 | 155 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Atlas: Bla Vardag [1979]

Rating: 8/10

Atlas's sole album Bla Vardag is an obscure gem from the small prog-rock scene that developed in Sweden during the mid-to-late 70s. Along with Kaipa's first three albums, this some of the best Swedish prog created during that period. Stylistically, the music here is instrumental keyboard/guitar-driven symphonic progressive rock. Camel is the most apparent influence here, but there's quite a bit of Hackett-style guitar playing here as well. There's also a strong fusion influence, particularly in the piano playing. In regards to tone, Bla Vardag is generally a happy and light-sounding album in the vein of its influences. The compositions are inspired and the musicianship is spectacular.

"Elisabiten" begins with quiet piano. Percussive crescendos lead into keyboard interplay backed up by cymbal-heavy percussion. The song has a terrific climax with building electric guitar and piano. The fourteen-minute "Pa Gata" is dominated by ethereal passages of keyboard interplay. The middle section is particularly impressive; harpsichord and synths are juxtaposed to create quite an unorthodox sound. However, the best part of this track (and quite possibly the best part of the album) is the jazzy piano section at the end. The title track is probably my favorite song here. It's laid-back and quite jazzy; the keyboard tones are perfect. The rather brief "Ganglat" is similar, with an absolutely superb guitar solo. "Den Vita Tranana Vag" alternates between fast-paced jazzy sections and atmospheric Mellotron-laden movements. The rhythm section gets a moment to shine on the excellent "Bjornstorp." The bass is catchy and funky, and there's an extended drum solo. The concluding section of "Hemifran" features a phenomenal soulful guitar solo; this is one of my favorite moments on the album. The closer "Sebastian" contains yet another excellent guitar solo, and the Mellotron conclusion is epic.

The only concrete complaint I have about Bla Vardag is the lack of variety in the songwriting. As excellent as the dual-keyboard and guitar interplay is, the band seems to rely slightly too heavily on it. This is only partially true, however; the jazzy piano at the end of "Pa Gata" and the bass/drum focus on "Bjornstorp" manage to add excellent variation. This is only a minor complaint, though. This album isn't "samey" by any stretch of the imagination. Although Bla Vardag doesn't connect with me quite enough for me to consider it a masterpiece, it's still a consistently excellent album that I would recommend to any fan of symphonic prog. This is certainly on my "Obscure Gems" list.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |


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