Header
Atlas - Blå Vardag  CD (album) cover

BLÅ VARDAG

Atlas

 

Symphonic Prog

4.23 | 141 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Isa
Prog Reviewer
4 stars |B-| A passionate, sophisticated, and genuine late-seventies prog sound.

Here we have an instrumental symphonic prog album, Blå Vardag, by the band Atlas. It is the only album known in existence by the Swedish band. I suspect this album either helped to establish or rode the wave of the (more optimistic sounding) Swedish symphonic prog sound as we know it, though I'd have to listen to more bands of the region and era. It's quite clear where much of this band's sound came from and was aimed to emulate: late seventies symphonic prog, particularly Steve Hackett's first few albums, Genesis' Trick of the Tail, and certainly Yes. The jazz-fusion material reminds me a lot of Bill Bruford's first album as well. Much of their music has a real sense of beauty, with classical and jazz- fusion influences abounding. In fact, I'd say the album gets much more jazz-fusion sounding as it plays toward the middle, then seems to gradually revert back to the Steve Hackett and Genesis sounding symphonic prog sound. It's in general much less rock oriented and much more cerebral and "progressive," which works quite well with the sound that the band is going for.

What I like most about this album is the clear sense that the musicians were really emulating and creating music that they were really passionate about, and melding their favorite influences in an attempt to make their own sound. The music has a real sense of optimism with a trace of naivety. It's a darn shame that they disbanded after only one album, we can only wonder what they might have sounded like had they another few albums to really develop their own original, cohesive sound, but alas, we are left with one beautiful work of symphonic/fusion influenced, Swedish, little gem of an album.

Track Commentary: The opening track Elisabiten starts us off with some energy, some very fun time-signature changes, dynamic shifts, and some beautiful harmonic progressions. The synthesizer plays a very prominent role in the movement of the music, and one can immediately hear the Swedish style where bands such as Beardfish were influenced in their sound. I love the way they really change up their music with the piano toward the end... basically classical music played on rock instruments. The second track Pa Gata starts us off with a very Genesis sounding laying with the bass-synth pads and really fun 7/8 pattern. The guitar work here is good, but I sure wish the part was played with a bit more expression. The drumming is very good but gets pretty repetitive in this track. I like the darker sounding piano/synth duet section. This track has a good sense of diversity. The guitar is a bit rushed in his arpeggios sometimes unfortunately, he probably wasn't as experience with playing in 7/8 as he would have liked to be when they made the recording, but it might have also been a decisive interpretation... kind of one of those gray areas. The guitar solo has the added octave chorused effect, very characteristic of late seventies prog, and he plays very expressively here. There is a beautiful, yet abrupt change most of the way through the piece where the acoustic guitar and piano play a pretty sort of improvised sounding duet section, leading into a jazz-piano solo, which is really cool. The ending is pretty bombastic, yet charming. The Third track, Bla Vardag, starts off with a lyrical synth solo, backed up by cymbal roles leading into the same motif being backed by the rest of the band. This sounds very much to me like a ballad I might have heard from one of Bill Bruford's solo albums... quite jazzy sounding. I like the bass patterns on this piece, so juicy. I especially love the 11/8 section with the work on the high hat and percussive bass lines, it's one of the most brilliant moments in the whole album. Probably my favorite piece on the whole album. Gånglåt reminds me very much of another work off Bill Bruford's first album, lots of unison and paralell lines between the electric guitar and electric piano. Den vita tranans väg is a little more lack-luster sounding of a track to me in general, definitely something the band put together with some quick jamming, though they develop it well enough for it to hold its salt. There just seems less inspiration behind it is my feeling, and they try too hard to be technical with it sometimes. Some parts are starkly Steve Hackett- sounding. Björnstorp gets a little more rock sounding with the aggressive drums and bass, mixed with some pretty classical influenced flutes playing parallel lines. This is a good track and is pretty much improvisations over a good 7/8 held in place by the drummer, who has a really awesome, groovy solo, which gradually reverts back to the theme from the beginning. Hemifran has a really diverse and much less repetitive sound to it, and emulates Genesis quite a bit. Lots of really good soloing and skill of this pianist. Sebastian has a very noodle- on-your-instrument kind of intro, which fortunately develops into some really cool and groovy work from the band, particularly the piano. Some really pretty though overly layered sections in this pieces, maybe live this song sounds less cluttered I would think. I like the Piccardy at the end.

All in all there is a lot to be said for this less-known album, and it has a lot to offer for both the casual and the more scholarly progressive listener. Those of us out there who really love that more cerebral symphonic prog sound, particularly that in the late seventies when jazz-fusion started to leak into the sound, will find a plethora of moments in this album that are really beautiful and uplifting. I personally find that the band tends to make their best music in this album when they are really focused on cohesive melody and a bit less on jamming or noodling around playing notes that really could be left out sometimes, which luckily only happens occasionally. Bla Vardag is probably the highlight of the album for me, since I have a soft-spot for that lyrical jazz-fusion sound. A must for symphonic proggers and an excellent, vibrant work for really anyone.

Isa | 4/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

WARNING: Forum software upgrade in progress, login function maybe affected for some users during that time.

Share this ATLAS review

>

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — the ultimate jazz music virtual community | MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music virtual community


Server processing time: 0.03 seconds