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BLÅ VARDAG

Atlas

Symphonic Prog


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Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Beside the original KAIPA, ATLAS is the most representative Swedish '70s prog sound. It's very far from the Scandinavian '90s bands: here, music isn't nostalgic or depressive; it's almost fun. ATLAS had two simultaneous keyboardists, and they gave their instruments an excellent use. Melodies are very pleasant to listen, despite the complex structures, while Mellotron adds a special flavour. All instrumental compositions are quite original; just like a reference, listener can remind some GENESIS stuff. Highly recommended, specially to vintage keyboards driven music fans.

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#18478)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2003 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ATLAS' "Bla Vardag" is essential prog in every way possible. This 1977 gem is sure to please all prog heads combining awesome keyboard work (yes even some Mellotron) with wicked guitar and bass/drum interplay. ATLAS have a very classic sound and never get too sappy or loud sounding... always very controlled and sophisticated. In some ways they remind me a little of KAIPA (especially the guitar work), but have a strong CAMEL feel as well. Songs are exceptionally well crafted (some absolutely inspiring passages) and get very involved revealing the musical competency of this Swedish act. This is very upbeat, happy and involved prog which will certainly keep you sitting upright throughout the listen. Should have mentioned that this is an all instrumental recording.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#18479)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ATLAS were a decent, all-instrumental, prog band heavily influenced by early GENESIS. Overall, "Bla Vardag" features pleasant compositions that will satisfy most prog collectors. The bonus material added to the CD makes-up for the weaker material on the original LP.

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Send comments to Steve Hegede (BETA) | Report this review (#18480)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars An album I discovered by complete accident, and a complete surprise! Featuring dueling keyboardists Björn Ekborn (misspelled "Ekbom" above) and Erik Björn Nielsen, this wholly instrumental album mixes a big, classic-prog symphonic style with a breezy, fusion jazz feel for something quite unique and refreshing. Most of the time the two duke it out on pianos (acoustic and Fender electric) and organ (Hammond) with piercing Moog lines cropping up frequently. Mellotron is, as it should be, used sparingly to stunning effect on the more dramatic moments. Their foil is guitarist Janne Persson, whose subtle, jazz-inflected playing suits the music to a T.

Highlight of the disc is quite obviously the fourteen-minute, two-part "På Gata", which finds all the band members in fine form. There's simply no letup in the piece, it's sheer prog-rock delight. Though Swedes have achieved a reputation for being "gothic" and "dark", this album is the antithesis of all that. Sprightly and sunny throughout, this is total "feel-good" prog.

The APM CD does the impossible, digging up three bonus tracks that are every bit as good as the original LP material (including one track, "Sebastian", which was recorded by a reformation of the original group specially for the CD!) All right, perhaps "Björnstorp" (originally from the MOSAIK anthology album, the track featuring four-fifths of Atlas) is a tad longwinded with its overlong percussion break, but there's not an out and out bad moment anywhere on this album. Don't hesitate to buy!

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Send comments to Progbear (BETA) | Report this review (#44959)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think Atlas "Blå Vardag" is a fine representative of Swedish 70´s prog! In a way I like this even more than Kaipas classic albums. "Blå Vardag" is all instrumental, and the moods and characters is varied and inspiring, yet homogenic in a good way. A lot have already been said about the melancholic tone in Swedish and Scandinavian prog, and this album is no exception. As is many other 70's Swedish prog bands there is a lot of folk inspiration here, but there is also a whole lot of jamming or jazzy parts, along with rock. Give it a few listens an you will be stuck!

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Send comments to 1971 (BETA) | Report this review (#66190)
Posted Monday, January 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I totally agree with other reviewers. When it comes to old instrumental Scandinavian prog rock music, I can't set any better example than Atlas or Dice respectively. Atlas bears typical properties of such music and is adding a bit of melancholic flavour so that I even wish I could be in Sweden in the 70's! Instrumental parts are well thought-out, I like the fact there is no instrument suffering from the other one although keyboards could be said to be prevalent.

Subtle Genesis influence and accessible sound makes you love the album from the very first listen. Jazzy mood is crafted ingeniously and that's why you won't be discouraged from listening to this if you don't belong among jazz-rock supporters.

It's hard to believe one could still buy a classic progressive rock album in 1979 but Swedish Atlas are certainly confirming that.

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Send comments to sgtpepper (BETA) | Report this review (#88216)
Posted Saturday, August 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Apart from others I'd note obvious CAMEL influence on ATLAS music - both early and latter, Canterburish, periods. The further we go the clearer this influence becomes - tracks like "Den Vita Tranans Väg" and "Björnstorp" are almost pure fusion!

Marked with excellent sense of melody and musicians' professionality, "Bla Vardag" is one and only attempt from this unique band, released in Prog's Sour Times and still terribly underrated (my review is 10th). It may be a nice surprise and excellent addition to - at least - 90% of Progheads (the ones who like CAMEL, GENESIS and soft Canterbury sound).Don't even try to hesitate - get this one immediately!!! EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED!!!

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#114292)
Posted Monday, March 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
FruMp
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars What an amazing little gem of an album this is, these guys only released one album unfortunately but like true europeans they are efficient and extremely effective.

The album is entirely instrumental and invokes a gamut of different emotions and atmospheres very effectively, the album starts off with elisabaten, cheerfully upbeat and hopeful, with lots of wonderful little nuances along the way, it then takes a turn into a sombre emotional tune - very impressive song writing skills are evident from the title track.

På Gata is the epic on the album is a definate highlight showcasing all the bands brilliance, from the upbeat an jazzy to the cheeky to the sombre to the defiant, it's really amazing how in looking back the song takes you to so many different places.

The beatiful title track is another highlight - a soft number with some great sounding synth and a very nice musical motif, extremely listenable.

The album is chock full of good music it covers so much territory in such a short time, I actually found I didn't really notice how technically gifted the musicians were at all because I am so engrossed in the music and it's journey - a very rare achievement. Highly recommended for fans of instrumental, symphonic and scandanavian prog such as anglagard, kaipa and camel.

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Send comments to FruMp (BETA) | Report this review (#116354)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ATLAS were an all instrumental band from Sweden who put out "Bla Vardag" (Blue Tuesday) in the late seventies.They featured two keyboard players while the music itself is fairly light, bright Symphonic-prog and at times quite jazzy. Some mellotron too on this record.

"Elisabiten" is one of those jazzy sounding songs with guitar, light drums and piano, creating a nice breezy sound. The sound does build to become quite intense.This contrast continues. "Pa Gata" is the epic on this album. Organ, cymbals and clavinet open the song and are joined by drums. It all sounds so good. It calms down before 5 minutes. Drums and organ follow. What a beautiful tune. "Bla Vardag" is a very tasteful song that doesn't move very fast. I love the main melody that pervades this song. "Ganglat" is much like the first song, a jazzy, uptempo tune.The guitar comes in adding a different flavour to this cuisine.

"Den Vita Tranans Vag" has some synths, organ and mellotron and there are tempo changes. "Bjornsturp" is another favourite of mine. Mellotron and flute sound great as drums pound away. Organ and guitar are added to this melody. The drums and percussion are incredible after 3 minutes. They then soften as mellotron comes back. It goes back to main melody before this beautiful song ends. "Hemifran" features some great sounding synths creating a nice melody. The drums and percussion are again fantastic after 3 minutes. "Sebastian" opens with piano. Bass and drums come in to create a steady rhythm. Nice. There is mellotron and a tasteful guitar solo as well. Good song !

A great album that will please Symphonic fans out there.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#117779)
Posted Monday, April 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Just when the golden decade of prog was reaching its end (and by then, prog rock had stopped being an important asset for the development of rock industry for quite a while), the Scandinavian part of Europe was yet to offer some more first class prog rock from Sweden. Atlas's "Blå Vardag" is one of the most beautiful and inventive prog albums of the 70s, and as such I can only start this review by recommending it unconditionally to all true lovers of the genre. The band's style is highly melodic, consistently pristine in its theme's developments, with an abundant dose of jazzy hints in the arrangements that provide a special dynamics to the band's overall symphonic trend. This is not canterbury of fusion-prog, although the band's sound displays some distinct, unmistakeable links to these types of approach: this is genuinely symphonic prog with a big room for jazzy ornaments. 76-77 Camel, Finch and early Kaipa are the most obvious references, not being as ballsy as the second and defintely getting to more places than their aforesaid compatriots. The dual keybaord input is a powerful sonic force for the elaboration and evolvement of the main motifs, mostly on synthesizer and organ, while the piano is preferently used for harmonies and basic scales, and the mellotron and string synthesizer build effective (yet not overwhelming) orchestral layers. Meanwhile, the rhythm section is constantly providing a solid foundation full of dynamics and a refreshing vibe. The main jazzy feel comes from guitarist Janne Persson's interventions, whose duties allow him to set a bridge between the partners-on-keys and the partners-at-rhythm while soloing here and there. Being a consistent album, the opener 'Elisabiten' might as well be described as a band's genuine manifesto: catchy and resonably complex, the empathetic listener is bound to be hopelessly hooked all the way towards the end. Wiith its 14 minute span, 'På Gata' gives plenty of room for the band to expand on their musical ideology with convenient intensity: the compenetration between all musicians is flawless, and so are the melodies' developments. The final result finds Atlas getting as majestic as it can be, with the final passages featuring a captivating touch of melancholy. Maybe it is an anticipation of what is to come for the namesake track, a beautiful track that stands up as the most poignant piece in the album (arguably). The way in which the lead guitar and the synth display their mutual duel with the electric piano washes floating underneath is simply irresistible. 'Gånglåt' brings some joyful candor in a very jazzy mood for less than 3 minutes, while 'Den Vita Tranans Våg' fuses melancholy and joie de vivre quite fluidly, almost matching the colorfulness of the first two numbers. So much of the band's official repertoire. The remaining three pieces are bonus tracks rescued for the CD edition. 'Björnstop', 'Hemifrån' and 'Sebastian', all of them offer a valuable continuity of the original setlist. These bonuses are not misplaced: they might as well be placed somewhere in between, but they also feel right in place as the CD's closing tracks. Not unlike Germany's Neuschwanstein or Italy's Maxophone, it only took one album (and a couple of bonuses) for Atlas to create a definitive progressive highlight for their own country's rock scene - in this case, Sweden.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#117781)
Posted Monday, April 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Super from capo al fine. Absolut flawless in every way possible. This is a true masterpiece of the '70. I think Atlas "Blå Vardag" is a fine representative of Europe 70´s prog! "Blå Vardag" is all instrumental, and the moods and characters is varied and inspiring, yet homogenic in a good way. They play here like they have 3 or 4 albums behind, but surprise they have only one album. The composition sound tight and very inventive. The band's style is highly melodic, consistently pristine in its theme's developments, with an abundant dose of jazzy hints in the arrangements that provide a special dynamics to the band's overall symphonic trend. I must add that this one is better than the best Kaipa (Solo), i make this conexion because the sound is similar and is from Sweden too. All tracks are super, amazing. My rate is 5 stars for sure. Highly recommended

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#124194)
Posted Friday, June 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Atlas is another obscure progressive rock band from Sweden. They represent the jazzy trend in symphonic prog rock in the close of the seventies and they released only one album, an instrumental masterpiece - Blå Vardag.

The music on this album is driven mainly by keyboards (organ, piano, clavinet, mellotron, Rhodes, mini-moog) played by two very good keyboardists - Björn Ekbom and Erik Björn Nielsen The guitar is present to. It role is less significant, but still very important and noticeable. The rythm section is also very good and do its part properly.

The sound of the group is very complex, rich, juicy and breezy, with jazzy grove. They managed easiness in complex and melodic arrangements.

Blå Vardag would satisfy all the lovers of athmosferic, complex and melodic symphonic rock with some jazzy touch.

Masterpiece!!!

Highly recommend!!!

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Send comments to Publius84 (BETA) | Report this review (#149105)
Posted Monday, November 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars A small little gemstone.... Sort of

This Swedish band is not the most known band in the Swedish prog rock scene, but their only album is worthy some praise. ATLAS is doing instrumental symphonic prog in the vein of CAMEL. Not as driving and openly melodic, but more jazzy and introvert than CAMEL. The use of keyboards is pretty the main sound of this album. They sometimes reminds me about KAIPA. Maybe it is this Swedish sound. I don't know. Maybe it is just me going insane. The lush keyboards combined with some guitars drives the music forward.

The jazzy piano in the RETURN TO FOREVER vein is the main good parts of this album. The lack of the killer tracks is the major negative with this album. The album really takes off into the stratosphere. It is hovering somewhere around Mont Blanc and do not get any higher. But those into instrumental symphonic prog bordering to fusion will love this album. I think it is a good album from Sweden.

3 stars.

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#201529)
Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars In the dog days of wavering summer, it was perhaps time to do some added exercise by going to the fabled collection case and search for that oddity , that bizarro-prog recording (probably those one-shot wonder jobs), issued from some non-Anglo-Saxon area , that would be apt fodder for my cannon. Like most bibliophiles, I started off at the letter A and after a mere few shuffles to get to Atoll albums, I noticed this album sitting pretty and perched, patiently awaiting my selection and embrace. Atlas only had this one jewel and then promptly vanished from the face of the earth, yet this 1979 album is very highly rated and for just cause, as close one can come to a seminal Swedish monument to the unknown progger, with its eternal flame still burning bright. With due apologies to Greenslade and Banco , this dual keyboard-led band could really kick some serious melodic behind, hurling waves of mellotrons, clavinets, amazing (and oh so underused) Fender Rhodes e-piano, organ, synths and piano. The crew prefers a dense, gentler approach, closer perhaps to a keyboard-heavy Camel or Sebastian Hardie, weaving intricate patterns where occasional electric guitars enliven the proceedings. Both Erik Björn Nielsen and Björn Ekbom rule the various ivories, trussing an elaborate web, spewing melodies from seemingly nowhere, sometimes jazzy, romantic or symphonic, as on the second part of "Pa Gata" where the elegant and grandiose piano dominates with utter finery. The title track (translated as Blue Tuesday) is simply restraint at its most agonizing, a misty grove of sophisticated sound, the bluesy electric piano echoing in ecstasy, escorting a sibilant synth flight, almost ambient symphonics that while placid, never evaporate into soporifics. "Ganglat" is somewhat of a continuance in a jazzier vein, almost Canterburian at times but loaded with slick e-piano droppings and a light-fuzz guitar solo a la Jan Akkerman. The next track is a slow builder, nothing too hectic or deranged, an insightful platform for another smooth guitar digression, with some organ tossed in for good measure, the classical reference recalling Dutch band Trace. The discreet exit is inspiring. "Björnstorp" has an upfront bass rumble, some flute additives and a dual key/guitar onslaught full of regal elegance, conjuring up images of Focus once again, especially when drummer Pinotti does his Pierre van der Linden-like drum solo. The fragile "Hemifran" keeps the eye on the horizon, another breezy, lofty jazz-rock affair that again features the complex interaction between keyboardists, recalling an upbeat attitude that has nothing to do with the somber Scandinavian style we all know and love (which partly explains why our sinkadotentree feels that there are few stark dynamics here, according to his review). It becomes obvious that the Swedish progressive school also has a lighter side with bands such as Alter Echo, the Foundation, Kaipa, Moon Safari, In the Labyrinth and Atlas. The guitar solo that ends this piece is revelatory of a certain complacent passion, another Viking trait that is highly typical of this northern country. "Sebastian" is a bonus track that closes out this marvelous disc, a Wakeman- esque piano-led promenade that has severe classical leanings, all within a playful framework, sprightly electric guitar leads singing in the musical meadows, the mellotron bowing with grace. . Soft or not, this is another cornerstone brick in the wall. 5 Stockholm syndromes

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#235894)
Posted Sunday, August 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This hidden gem kind of album got my interest because of it's positive reviews here on PA. So time to check it out. Prog from 1979 is intriguing on itself and when it on top of that comes from Sweden as well it's almost a guarantee for quality.

And so this appeared a true fact after listening for several times. This is high caliber instrumental symphonic stuff in slightly jazzy style. Main instrument is the keyboard or should I say organ because that's significant in many of the tracks. The songs are complex in a nice way, that is complex enough to be interesting (and progressive) but not over the top. Really pleasant material on here.

And so it will please most progfans I dare to state. At least it has done so far. Bear in mind that this is no.15 of all times where symphonic prog is concerned. And even no.4 where the rating average is concerned. And it's only because of the low number of ratings this isn't as high as it should be. So time to check it out I would like to say to all respectable progfans. 5 stars isn't exaggerated

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#294214)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Atlas is a Swedish symphonic instrumental band with a thoughtful mix of the late 70ties sound of Camel and Genesis. It is a pleasant listen but it fades to the background too quickly without leaving much of a lasting impression.

The sound reminds me a lot of Camel's Breathless and Genesis' Trick of the Tail, complete with some regrettable buzzing bee synths and lots of prog and fusion clichés. But generally the band made good use of their influences and while unoriginal they still created some nice instrumental compositions with fluently morphing themes. The mood is very light, mellow and melodious, exactly like many 70's prog fans will prefer it. There are some exciting moments throughout the album but due to the combination of light melodies and soft fusion, it frequently feels as if we ended up in a soft-porn flick.

If you like mellow prog and don't mind the occasional tweeting tea-pot synths you can sure add a star to this rating. It's a bit too predictable and easy-listening for me to match what I consider the 4 star albums in the sympho branch. Nevertheless, a good genre-album that is rightfully loved by many.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#298161)
Posted Thursday, September 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars I realize giving such a low rating to an album that's practically unheard of seems like kicking a man when he's down, but it's conceivable that somebody might seek this out, hoping for a lost progressive gem, and I tell that person, right now: Go elsewhere.

It is difficult to think of one commendable thing about this album, or indeed, much to say about the album, period. The keyboards? Horrid, piercing things. The arrangements? Unimaginative and boring. Think of combining Genesis and Soft Machine, and now make the music you're imagining into something that is dull and derivative enough to make you question how a thinking human being could create such soulless material from whole cloth. Add in a 57 minute runtime and you have a long, stultifying train wreck of an album that only the staunchest of collectors will find any interest in.

In conclusion, some albums are obscure for a reason, and this is one of those albums. If this review seems to short, I can guarantee you that "zzz" is far shorter and gets the point across just as well. Truly impossible to recommend.

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Send comments to 40footwolf (BETA) | Report this review (#356125)
Posted Friday, December 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#459407)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Atlas were a one-album wonder from Sweden whose sole release is a charming blend of accessible symphonic prog in the tradition of Genesis, Kaipa and Bo Hansson with occasional fusion leanings reminiscent of the Canterbury-influenced albums of Camel during Richard Sinclair's tenure in that band (so the better parts of Breathless and Rain Dances) or of some tracks by Hatfield and the North or National Health. The band do go full-fusion at some points, however - in particular, Bjornstorp includes a great drum solo worthy of the greats of the genre, and I'm talking as someone who usually has little patience for drum solos. A wonderful combination of influences into a cohesive sound which, sadly, didn't survive past this one album.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#563311)
Posted Sunday, November 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Isa (BETA) | Report this review (#634071)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I found this while I was on my "discovering rampage" of Swedish prog like The Flower Kings and Anglagard. I came across these guys, who are of course Swedish. Let me tell you it was a pleasant surprise and one of my favorite discoveries to date. This album has everything I like in symphonic prog. The melodies are there, the harmonies are there, and the lush instruments that make the genre so great are also present.

The album is fully instrumental, which is fine by me. The instrumentation is strong enough on its own it would probably be hindered by vocals anyway. To describe the music, I would probably say it's a combination of symphonic prog like Genesis with a mix of jazz fusion. The songs do carrier a rather lighter a free flowing feel as seen in jazz.

The best part of this album is easily the endless melodies these guys are playing. You might think one moment is cool and exciting but then they hit you with something even better. They are also able to make the songs flow very well.

The majority of the album is upbeat and packed with riffs. The slower sections that do exist are played wonderfully and have a nice atmospheric feel, similar to Pink Floyd perhaps.

I would recommend this album to most fans of symphonic prog and jazz fusion. People who like their music on the darker may be turned off by this as it is mostly happy, uplifting and overall very easy listening.

If I were to have any problem with this album it is the production of the cymbals which seem to be overly loud in the mix and in your face in a few songs. Other than that, this is a very good, if a bit unknown album.

9/10

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Send comments to Mr. Mustard (BETA) | Report this review (#814612)
Posted Sunday, September 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Music from 1979 in the style of CAMEL, FOCUS or early GENESIS but without the virtuosic guitar work of a Jan Akkerman or Steve Hackett. I's pretty well recorded--clear and well mixed. The songs are thoughtfully composed in a symphonic at-times bordering on jazz fusion style with no shortage of complexity and dynamic variation. The songs are all sensitively performed with all instrumentalists contributing equally. The keyboard players (there are two!) are to my ears the most impressive performers, though the bass and drums are very tight and quite talented. It might be said that the guitarist is the weak link--though he's by no means poor. For example: There's a nice foray into the realm of STEVE HACKETT in the middle of the Nursery Cryme/Moving Waves-like "På Gata" (over some awesome organ work) before he loses his patience and tries to shred with a fuzz sound in a blues-rock style that, to my ears, kind of ruins it. A better comparison would be he's really like Mike Rutherford: a decent rhythmist and ensemble player but not a stunner as a lead.

Favorite songs: a very FOCUS-like 7. "Hemifrån" (7:51) with the best HACKETT-like work and piano playing on the album (9/10); the classically oriented finale 8. "Sebastian" (4:31) (Bach?) (9/10); the diverse epic, 2. På Gata" (14:10) (8/10); the syrupy Camel-like title song, 3. "Blå Vardag" (6:57) (8/10); the jazzy little 4. "Glånglåt" (2:53) (8/10); the keyboard-dominated FOCUS-like 5. "Den Vita Tranans Väg (7:19) (8/10), and; the more fusion-oriented 6. "Björnstorp" (6:18) with its tasteful drum solo and ending electric guitars' duel (8/10).

Definitely a solid contribution to prog world and one of Sweden's earliest. Consistent with interesting, mature symphonic compositions performed at a high CAMEL-like level.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#895277)
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Atlas released one record with the name Atlas and afterwards they changed name to Mosaik and did one record with that name three years after this disc "Blå vardag". This record from 1979 contains eight songs and it was easy for me to like it. Their music has a deep sound and it's filled with instruments and great melodies. Every track is worth listen to but of course I have my favourites. "På gata" has a strong and handsome melody which knows what it want. It happens a lot in this music. This record really shows what symphonic rock is and does that with distinct tunes and great harmonies. "Hemifrån" is another gem which is a musdical journey through time and space. What I miss here is song. I can't really place is in the same level such as Genesis (which they almost sounds like). This is also a record that I maybe will raise higher later on. But now I will give it four strong stars. The lack of song is big. They do it well even without song but I am curious how It would have sounded with vocals included. A very honest record with great symphonic progressive rock, worth liften to. Perhaps it will fit your taste. The similarities with Camel's Snow goose is something i notised.

This is one of the best Swedish prog albums I have heard. It's interesting to search around for new music. There are a lot of hidden gems in the flower garden of prog.

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#959013)
Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars really. I was quite surprised by the sole album produced by this obscure swedish band, even more so if you consider that Bla Vardag was released in 1979! It´s really hard to find a good, old fashioned prog album around that time, specially for a new group and an all instrumental one! Small wonder it made no impact at all (tell me about wrong timing!!). However, the music inside the ugly cover is really good: lots of keyboards (they had two keyboard players), strong Genesis, Camel and ELP influences plus a more than light leaning towards jazz rock/fusion arrangements.

Overall I liked very much the whole CD. The music is quite pleasant, very well produced and recorded. Sometimes, specially on the jazz rock parts, the sound gets a little too predicable and boring, but most of the time is highly melodic and creative. A little more edge would do wonders, but, hey, we´re talking about a first work and, in this light, Bla Vardag is more than just good or promising. A real shame they didn´t have the chance to produce a follow up. It would be very interesting to see what they would come up with after they hade more experience and time to hone their skills at the songwriting department.

Highlights: the melodic title track and the 12 minute suite Pa Gata, really good. My CD came with three bonus tracks (one is said to be recorded specially for the CD release of the album) and I can say that those extra tunes are on par, or maybe slightly bettter, than the original work, making these additions a very welcome surprise. Sound quality is also top notch.

Conclusion: even if Bla Vardag is not a masterpiece some claim, this is a highly enjoable instrumental prog that came from a time when symphonic progressive music was on its darkest hours (and least creative period). If you like fine instrumental prog music with jazz rock overtones, you should check this out.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#1020994)
Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2013 | Review Permalink

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