Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
FreddeGredde - Brighter Skies CD (album) cover



Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
5 stars This is my favorite album of 2014 so far! I've been a fan of the Swedish solo artist FreddeGredde's proggier compositions since his early YouTube releases, and while his debut album had some great material, there were also many uninteresting tracks that I wouldn't consider prog at all. This has certainly been adjusted with this second album, because what we get is only seven tracks, no fillers, and they are (almost) all very prog, very creative, and just a pleasure to listen to. I can hear similarities with Moon Safari, Frost*, A.C.T, IQ and early Dream Theater, but also classics like Gentle Giant and Genesis, and it all lands in something entirely unique.

Songs by song:

1. Welcome the Bright Skies A very welcoming opening track for sure! I notice many similarities between FreddeGredde's first album and this second one, and one is the structure and feel of the opening tracks. "Lonely Starlight" on the debut was full-on prog, but was still accessible and had a coherent flow throughout the track, and most of it was in a 13/8 time signature. All the different themes came back together at the end, making a very tight composition. This new opening track has a very similar structure, with a lot of different themes that flow together, mostly in 15/8 this time, and it's all tied together with the majestic "it all comes together" ending. Both albums have very strong openings, and I like them equally but in different ways. My rating: 5 stars

2. The Autotelic Self This is the rocker of the album, the most "prog metal" one. But it's still warm and full of synths and layers, separating it from most other modern prog metal, which tends to feel generic and forgettable. But this one is far from that! Clocking in at a little more than 11 minutes, it goes through a wide range of moods and styles, from crazy instrumental sections reminiscent of Images & Words era Dream Theater, to beautiful piano and acoustic guitar breakdowns, to mandolin based "folk" sections. This track has it all, and it all flows extremely well! It might be the highlight track of the album. My rating: 5 stars

3. Your Life After two mostly up-beat and intense tracks, this is a welcomed breather. Based on classical guitar and mandolin, it gives a folk/Irish vibe, with almost sing-along qualities, except that there is no repetitive chorus that sticks with you on a first listen. Despite its soft and accessible sound, there's some "prog" to be found here, with 5/4 and 7/4 time signatures and a longer solo section that's alternating between the guitar and the mandolin. The solos are accompanied by an increasingly powerful choir, which creates a pretty powerful climax considering the type of song it is. It's a little odd among the other tracks on the album, but on it's own, it's a pretty little track. My rating: 4 stars

4. This Fragile Existence Is the title possibly a reference to "This Falling World" from his previous album? Musically, they have similarities as they both feature large contrasts and breakdowns, and swiftly go through several moods and ideas (maybe more so than usual, even by FreddeGredde's standards). The stand-out features of this track are the complex vocal harmonies, which at times remind me of Queen and other times of Gentle Giant. It's overall a very playful composition, and the adventurous nature of it always manages to make me smile. My rating: 5/5 stars

5. The Tower This is the second calmer track of the album, and is more ambient and cinematic than anything he has done before. Starting with only piano and accompanying synth pads, it gives off a cold and wintery vibe, but as the song goes on, it slowly changes back and forth between positive and sad in a very tasteful way. It's prog and it's got the high amount of variation that FreddeGredde is known for, but it's more atmospheric and slower paced. The ending is just extremely beautiful, probably the highlight of the entire album. My rating: 5 stars

6. Shining Another shorter song in-between the epics. It's probably the most pop on the album, with a very catchy chorus that you can sing along to even on the first listen. It's got some prog moments though, some interesting time signature changes, and a cute mandolin based bridge. A solid track, but one more for a casual audience rather than the hardcore prog fans. My rating: 3-4 stars

7. Ocean Mind And finally, the 18 minute epic. This one is difficult to process, because there is so much going on, and though I love a majority of it, there are some sections that don't grab me entirely. The instrumental sections are the highlights for me, as they are VERY adventurous and crazy, going from jazzy sections to metal to I-can't-even-describe-it. Again, I think the closest resemblance is early Dream Theater. My rating: 4 stars

All in all, definitely warmly recommended to fans of prog!

Report this review (#1213700)
Posted Monday, July 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Prog is a genre driven by progression, hence the origin of its name. It is a label driven to push the boundaries of the music we listen to and redefine our standards of good music. The more ambitious music listeners become desensitized to the music around them, after many years of constant exposure, and thus are on an endless search for something that separates itself from the rest. In the underground music community, experimentation has practically become synonymous with high quality music. However, sometimes we just need a reminder that the core of writing music is something fairly simple: good songwriting. Therefore, I introduce to you "Brighter Skies" by FreddeGredde; a progressive rock album that doesn't introduce anything new for the genre, but is a refreshing blend of all its pre-established traits.

"Brighter Skies" contains all aspects we have all come to know the prog genre for such as unconventional jams, tempo changes, odd time signatures, shifts in dynamics, instrumental layering, and un-linear song structures. While many would argue that this is a major flaw, I refute that it is actually the album's biggest strength. Fredrik Larsson - under the name FreddeGredde - has clearly listened to a fair share of progressive music and has learned to use it as a weapon. You can hear a clear passion for the genre as a whole, almost as if the music is made to be a homage. The music has a very accessible nature to it; this is an album that could easily find itself bringing in many new prog fans but still impressing the veterans listeners, establishing a perfect middle ground between catchy hooks and varying complexity. The guitar is lighthearted in tone yet flaunting in technique, the keyboard is a driving force yet conveys subtlety, and the vocals are easy on the ears yet rhythmically shifting.

Although the general elements and concepts behind the album are fairly standard for the genre, one way that "Brighter Skies" greatly differs from its brethren is its tone. Progressive music has never had a large disposal of emotional conveyance in its arsenal, most of the time resorting to a sinister or epic atmosphere. Of course every once in a while an emotional or somber tune roles around, but there is one form of expression that is always oddly neglected. However, FreddeGredde unearthed this fossil and has revealed his discovery to the world: a little thing called happiness. This album is all sunshine and rainbows; prog has never been the type of music to put a smile on my face, but this is one time that it has. From the moment the first song "Welcome to Brighter Skies" starts, you quickly get a taste of what's in store, from the upbeat tempo to the bright chimes, merry piano, comforting acoustic work, gleeful singing, and just complete lack of abuse of sharp notes. The mood is very consistent without ever becoming stale; there are songs such as the jolly and festive folk-inspired "Your Life" and the mellow and ethereal piano driven "The Tower" adding variety but still maintaining equilibrium. If you are unsure that you will like this, give the first two tracks a try, as they encompass the key components of "Brighter Skies" as a whole.

Report this review (#1239239)
Posted Saturday, August 9, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fredrik Larsson is a fresh young multi-instrumental talent out of Sweden who has a proclivity for Drama-era YES but who is unfortunately cursed with a voice like OWL CITY's singer- songwriter Adam Young--"cursed" because, in this reviewers opinion, the OWL CITY singing approach does not match stylistically well with the YES-like music.

1. "Welcome the Bright Skies" (5:45) introduces us to Mr. Larsson's YES-like sound--that is, until he starts singing. "Fireflies" automatically comes to mind (a song I rather like but whose idiosyncratic vocal approach is, I think, better left as uniquely Adam Young's domain). (I know that Mr. Larsson cannot help that his English singing style sounds so familiar to these experienced ears. My point is, I think, that I don't find the OWL CITY vocal approach to fit very well with your choice of bombastic prog music.) A forgettable song that displays tremedous potential. (7/10)

2. "The Autotelic Self" (11:05) The Drama-era YES/Chris Squire bass sound and Trevor Horn voice make this for an interesting song. It is during this song that I am beginning to think that Mr. LArsson's real gift is in the keyboard department--his choices and uses of multiple sounds throughout a song is quite dextrous, confident and masterful. With each successive listen to this album I find myself tuning out the domineering bass and drums to focus on the more interesting keyboard work. Overlooking the too-busy, too-loud drums, and this is quite an interesting, well-constructed song. Even the vocals work tolerably well on this one. (9/10)

3. "Your Life" (3:00) is quite a cute, entertaining (biographical?) journey through the adventures of a young world-traveller. Quite catchy and engaging, if also poppy. (8/10) 4. "This Fragile Existence" (5:50) is a song with just too many layers, too much going on, and not enough consistency to render it engaging much less memorabl--though a brief GENESIS/TONY BANKS section at 4:25 tries to render this hodgepodge song from forgettability. (7/10)

5. "The Tower" (8:21) is probably my favorite song on the album. It has quite a RENAISSANCE feel to it--especially in the bass sound and foundational role of the piano. Quite symphonically constructed and of varied paced, the song's main flaw is in the singing. The singing sometimes feels forced, as if the singer has to rush the lyrics along to keep pace with the keyboard melody lines. The heavy section beginning at 6:45 is quite powerful. Still, the song could benefit from some more instrumental sections--or simply less singing. Reminds me of GENESIS' "Eleventh Earl of Mar" in that it is musically an incredible song over which the singing and lyrics have a negative effect. (9/10)

6. "Shining" (4:02) is another song of wonderful musical creativity that, unfortunately, suffers from the over-/domineering presence of singing and mismatched lyrics. The singer's approach often reminds me of one JON ANDERSON in the way these quite unusual and unexpected lyrics are sung in quite unexpected places and ways. (8/10) The album's finale and longest song, the epic, 7. "Ocean Mind" (18:24), opens with three minutes of well-crafted symphonic prog bombast. Once the vocal does finally enter, it begins with some admirable restraint while some YES/STARCASTLE-like music fills the background (foreground and wings, too!) Again, the instrumental presentation may be a bit too busy. A softer section in the seventh minute has a TREVOR HORN/YES/BUGGLES feel to it (a feeling I'm revisited by A LOT during this song) before the music returns to a heavier instrumental section. Great keyboards and powerful drumming throughout--though the volume and activity of the drums at times detract attention from the other instruments. The song, unfortunately, wanders all over the musical spectrum without revealing (to me) its purpose or soul. The acoustic guitar backed gentle section in the fifteenth minute is nice, though the reverb and singing style forces that Adam Young/OWL CITY feel upon me as much as ever. The denouement of the final two minutes again leaves me wondering, confused: Is this supposed to be a "Supper's Ready" or an Elton John song? (7/10)

FreddeGredde is a band that I look forward to following in the future as I can see great potential if young Mr. Larsson decides to learn to use a little more restraint--to give more power to the subtleties and incidentals and not so much to the bombastic. He certainly has command of all of the elementals of great prog. Now to learn pacing and more mature presentation.

A 3.5 stars album (between "good" and "excellent") that shows tremendous future potential. I do recommend progsters give this one a listen as I believe Mr. Fredrik Larsson may be destined to contribute great things to the prog lexicon.

Report this review (#1245481)
Posted Tuesday, August 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars FreddeGredde is probably best known for being a YouTube video viral sensation with videos he made in 2009-2010 of medleys and covers.

Along the way he also made videos of his original music which is in the style of progressive rock. "Beside Me" and "Vampire Bride" were part of his debut album Thirteen Eight which was released in 2011. Since then he has been releasing some more medley videos and working on his sophomore release, Brighter Skies.

Brighter Skies is a very mature second album for Fredrik Larsson. A fantastic modern prog album perfectly blending progressive rock, progressive metal and touches of progressive folk. The album is full of folk-like melodies played through a symphonic lens. I'll find myself humming or singing many of the melodies after listening to the album. He also effortlessly weaves in and out of odd-time signatures gracefully.

I hear some classic Genesis influences on this album with an example being the last few minutes of the epic "Ocean Mind" which brings to mind Wind & Wuthering. Additionally, a lot of modern prog touches similar to bands like Beardfish & IQ.

Each song is well-written with a tremendous attention to detail. Fredrik plays all of the instruments aside from the drums which are played masterfully by Louis Abramson of Jolly and a flute passage, on one of my favorite tracks "The Tower," by Zuzana Vanekova which sounds like something Peter Gabriel might have played in early Genesis.

Brighter Skies is best described as an adventure and depicted well by the album cover. With references to "The Tower," "Welcome the Bright Skies" and Fredrik himself sitting under the tree playing his acoustic guitar.

I highly recommend Brighter Skies to anyone a fan of adventurous modern progressive rock. It is one of my favorites of 2014 giving it a solid 5 out of 5 rating.

Report this review (#1271217)
Posted Saturday, September 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Just in case you were find yourself believing that Sweden is a magical fountain of good prog, well guess what, you've been proven right again. Out from Gavle appeared the young artist Fredrik Larsson 3 years ago with his debut album under the name of FreddeGredde, boasting a title that pretty much screams out prog rock: Thirteen Eight. Interesting to note, however, is that Larsson has actually been quite the Youtube sensation in his homeland, doing a variety of playful medleys of music from tv shows, classical music, video games, etc. While the videos are fun and all, when it comes to prog FreddeGredde is the real deal. His latest release, Brighter Skies, kicks it up a couple notches from where he left off with Thirteen Eight, showing increased technical and compositional skill as a musician as he plays just about everything on this stellar new release that recalls what we love about bands like Moon Safari, Spock's Beard/Neal Morse, early Dream Theater, and a slew of other prog influences.

The record kicks it off with "Welcome the Bright Skies," immediately recalling Moon Safari in its 'feel good' nature, melodic approach, and dense layering. Very quickly, however, we see that there's going to be a strong technical side to the album, with lot's of headspinning rhythms happening and drums that often lead towards prog metal despite the light-hearted nature of the tune. Boasting pleasant chord changes, tron style flute, the occasional pulverizing riff, and a big ritard towards the end for dramatic effect, and we've got a killer opener on our hands. Next up is "The Autotelic Self," a song that just makes me grin from the way it matches so much virtuoso playing with a song that, when you boil it down, is really based around a few basic melodic ideas that Larsson simply decides to take all the way to the moon and back. Earlier I mentioned Dream Theater, and let me just say that what FreddeGredde is doing on this song is what I wished DT was doing at this moment instead of releasing lukewarm music. The shift from melodic sections to staggering polyrhythms is incredible, and the texturing of sparkly keyboards over heavy and complex sections is masterful. But like I said, in the end, what we get are great, quickly recognizeable motifs spun through labyrinths of instrumental wizardry, broken up by wailing high vocals, unison runs, and even some beautiful quiet sections, all along the way showing us his skill at alternating mood between heavy/dark and bouncy/bright. At this point, Larsson decides to give us a bit of a rest with the relaxing, celtic-flavored tune "Your Life." This fun little folky piece will certainly get you jigging with its upbeat, jolly feel. While it's a simple piece, small additions here and there build it up nicely and keep the interest alive. Nothing wrong with giving us a short and simple tune from time to time, and in this case it's a great way to calm things down after so many crazy rhythms displayed in the first two tracks.

Of course, it is only a short rest from the madness as FreddeGredde throws us right back into the action with "This Fragile Existence." Even though this piece starts off with some pretty menacing riffing, to say this is simply a metal song would not do it justice. There is something subtly theatrical about this song, and just as quickly as it threw down some brutal riffs it quickly moves to bright and poppy, keyboard given sections, delivering plenty of catchyness a la Moon Safari as it takes us through some lighter sections full of strings, flute, little bells, and dense vocal arrangments that become quite personal. All in all, "This Fragile Existence" shows us some of the coolest of the album thus far, but what comes next, "The Tower," is sure to top it. This is a track that is powerful right from the start, conjuring up a heartfelt intro with epic atmosphere delivered by vocals, piano, cymbal swells, and dramatic moments. The transition to guitar and flute screams out Voyage of the Acolyte in fantastic ways before developing the drum parts little by little, introducing bits of Mellotron, catchy basslines, amazing use of syncopation, and impressive vocal harmonies. From start to finish this is a song with amazing flow, and what's more, it's one of the prettiest tracks on the album, perhaps less wild than some others, but somehow delivering a more determined sense of purpose. On top of that, it never hurts when you deliver an ending of epic proportions, this time in the form of proggy playing suddenly hitting a straightforward, slow, doomy beat as the ambient keys and heavy guitar chords ring out, drenching the song in emotion.

To close off the album FreddeGredde essentially gives us two pieces which are polar opposites in nature but both are excellent in their own ways. "Shining" is a compact song, four minutes of very straight-to-the-point prog while "Ocean Mind" comes in at a whopping 18 minutes. For the former, imagine if Dream Theater and Moon Safari had a baby, it's about what you get: four minutes of proggy riffing, happy melodies, and theatrical nuances. Throw in an uber catchy chorus and we have a fantastic, easy access song with fabulous melodies, uplifting feeling and all around awesome. The closer, "Ocean Mind," as is typical of prog epics, maintains a certain casual flow between sections in the sense that the structure becomes very loose and gives room to exploring a variety of moods and timbres through long instrumental passages. Main themes are heard to appear throughout and we get Larsson delivering about every angle we've explored on the album thus far from catchy melodies to uplifting sections, and even the occasional brutal heavy riff with eerie tron strings laden over the top. All in a all, this is certainly the right way to wrap up a prog album.

While Larsson isn't necessarily blazing new trails in the prog world, his take on prog rock/metal is supremely convincing and incorporates the best of influences, tying them together in ways that are fun, challenging, and above all, just plain cool. He's certainly not afraid to push the musicianship as far as he can and at the same time makes sure to include nice little personal flourishes. Brighter Skies is an album that particularly the younger proggers will get into, but simultaneously contains enough dense composition to please the more experienced fans who are wanting to dig into the songs multiple times and always find something new.

Report this review (#1287466)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Being a busy dad doesn't allow for much web surfing. 5-minute bursts of activity on PA. So I have to pick my pleasure. Out of the myriad I selected, no strong reason, on a whim, Heliopolis and this. While both are prog albums by prog fanatics for prog fanatics, Heliopolis takes a decidedly retro approach, and Fredde updates classic prog with a modern sound. On a base of symphonic prog snippets of everything can be heard, from metal to jazz and country. Yet, despite the occasional punchiness, what I like is that Larsson never loses the playfulness - from his wacky alias to the tinkling synths and warm vocal that wouldn't be out of place on a children's show. But this is no simple record - in fact, it can get quite convoluted at times. Densely layered songs-suits, different parts and instrumental solos whizzing by at an often dizzying speed. Its pretty impressive for what basically is a single-man project, but sometimes you will get the feeling that there is simply too much stuff going on (on top of many layers, there's the busy drumming, which is the only thing that Larsson doesn't do). If you like this, here are some similarly-minded bands to check out - Simon Says (Tardigrade) for the quirky bombast, ACT for the playfulness and Flaming Row for eclectic-ness.

Report this review (#1294547)
Posted Monday, October 20, 2014 | Review Permalink

FREDDEGREDDE Brighter Skies ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of FREDDEGREDDE Brighter Skies

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


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

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

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.