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Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar CD (album) cover

BARNDOMENS STIGAR

Kultivator

Eclectic Prog


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Steve Hegede
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Barndomens Stigar" is KULTIVATOR's only album. The music has plenty in common with the Zeuhl movement; However, I wouldn't call" Barnsdomens Stigar" a "Zeuhl" album. You can hear obvious MAGMA-influences: furious bass and Fender Rhodes chops, ritualistic themes, and MAGMA-like vocals. But, the music doesn't really sound anything like other Zeuhl bands due to the mixing-in of traditional prog rock and traditional folk influences from Sweden. If you can still find this CD, grab it!
Report this review (#29016)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars As the other review states , this is not zeuhl and not fusion also but more of a jazz-prog. And this came out in strange times (81) but I only discovered this in the mid-90's. I was relatively enthusiasted at the time of dicovery and I still like this but never bought it because IMO, this is not a must have. There is two numbers on here that are strongly influenced by magma but most numbers are of a Canterbury flavour especially the ones that are sung by a female voice that reminds of the Northettes in Hatfield or the vocal exercises of Amanda Parsons or Barbara Gaskin on the National Health albums
Report this review (#29017)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one is just the best. It have take me many years before me and my dad thought that I was mature enough to understand this mysic. But now, I really do, and I just lovet it. And for the record, the bassist Stefan Carlsson, is my Dad.
Report this review (#29018)
Posted Saturday, February 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent Canterbury styled prog with a bit of folk and zeuhl influences, and weird vocals. Tight arrangements and great rythm section. Their sound is basicly produced via the fender rhodes, 70's-bruford-sounding drums and some vocals ala Barbara Gaskin (from the Northetes, singers of Hatfield and the north). The feeling this band gives at time is of an oriental crazed prog band from some othe cosmos, light years away from here. Weird but delightful!
Report this review (#35446)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Kultivator was one record band from Sweden. The music of them is something between zeuhl, Canterbury-school fusion and some Swedish folk music. There is some weird National Health- and Hatfield and the North-type female vocals sung in Swedish. Comparing this band with previously named bands and French zeuhl-legend Magma the musicianship of Kultivator on this item is maybe a bit more "clogged". But quite pleasureful listening. My favourite composition on this record is maybe "Kära Jord". 3,5 stars really.
Report this review (#79304)
Posted Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
laplace
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Not really as disciplined as an orthodox zeuhl album should be, Kultivator like to rock out with shorter songs which pay out in groove and feeling immediately rather than building anticipation for greater potential highs, prefer their vocals to be closer to angelic than to alien and seem to take as much influence from psyche and folk as from jazz - previous reviewers have suggested that this is merely jazz rock, but given that Barndomens Stigar features Rhodes playing in unusual meters, sci-fi chord changes, militant drumming heavy with insistent snare-play and distinctly Kobaian melodies and bass lines, I see no harm in including them under the most celestial of banners.

Three stars for being an impressive set of songs and a new interpretation of zeuhl (particularly on the track "Kära Jord") from a country you wouldn't associate with the microgenre; no more because of a certain lack of depth, at times.

Report this review (#116839)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am not too sure about the Zeuhl tag on this band though there definitely are major influences from that genre here, notably from Magma with very unusual vocal stylising etc. But in addition this band also have a good dose of folk-rock, avant-garde and fusion elements making it very hard to classify properly though the overall style is a lot like some of the original Zeuhl bands so I think I'll be fine with the current classification. Musically, this band sounds like a cross between Magma, Gentle Giant, Samla Mammas Manna, Myrbein and Kebnekaise but they still manage to create their own sound and rarely go into any overused prog clichés. The album has some really strong songwriting with a very adventurous style throughout and the music is never boring, as well as being supported with some really excellent musicianship. Heavily dominated by the Fender Rhodes keyboard, the songs are complex but very playful and not too intense, they all sound very balanced with very few over-the-top moments. The production is good though it could have been a bit warmer and broader, in my opinion.

Not much to complain about here except for that this album is very hard to find, but if you are interested look for Internet stores that specializes progressive rock then you might find it. A very rewarding album and definitely one of Sweden's finest prog-rock achievements, too bad it's fairly unknown among several prog fans. Get it if you can find it! 4.5/5

Report this review (#124909)
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars ANEKDOTEN lists fellow Swedes KULTIVATOR as an influence. Hard to believe this came out in 1981, another record I can hold up as an exception to some of the mediocre music of the eighties. This really is an interesting album with that fuzzed out bass, Fender Rhodes and repetitive vocals it makes me think of Zeuhl all the way while many refer to that Canterbury flavour.

"Hoga Hastar" is dominated for the first two minutes by aggressive drums and organ. This is a great uptempo track to open the album with. Love the fuzzed out bass too which is very Zeuhl-like. "Vemod" brings to mind the title of ANEKDOTEN's first album but the music here is slowed down now from the first track with female Swedish vocals. The instrumental passages in between the vocal sections are fantastic ! Some great sounding liquid keys on this one and check out the deep bass line too. Flute ends the song. "Smafolket" opens with keys as bass and cymbals join in. The keyboard play shines 2 minutes in.There are several tempo and climate changes in this one.

"Kara Jord" has a definite Zeuhl flavour to it, especially the male vocals before 4 minutes and also that really catchy Zeuhl-like rhythm after 4 minutes with female vocals. It's back again 5 1/2 minutes and the angular guitar is great, especially the tone of it. "Barndomins Stigar" opens with flute before keys and drums arrive. This song is like a breath of fresh air. Again the bass is prominant. Great song ! "Grottekvarnen" has female vocal melodies which are Zeuhl-like with drums until the mood changes part way through. "Varfol" has more female vocal melodies and along with it a jazz feel with light drums, bass and guitar. "Novarest" reminds me of ESKATON. This is a cool song with male and female vocals singing "novarest" over and over again. An extended instrumental section follows with some great guitar.

The two bonus tracks fit in really well and are just as good as the album tracks. You have to go get this album.

Report this review (#130129)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It seems so unreal that outside Canterbury and after the 70s were over that good Canterbury-influenced music could be created and recorded. And when I say "good", I mean "Excellent", "magnificent", "exciting". Swedish band Kultivator was regrettably a one-shoot act whose "Barndomens Stigar" album was an important legacy for the world of jazz-prog. This album's material is to a large degree based on the influences of "4th"-"5th"-era Soft Machine, Gilgamesh and the jazzy elements of Henry Cow's first two albums. There are also hints to Matching Mole and the somber aura of early Univers Zero, but these are less dominant. This exhibition of complex, experimental jazz- rock comprises a peculiar, challenging melodic vibe that includes an important dose of dissonances and an inch of disturbing darkness. Ingemo Rylander's mezzosoprano timber is obviously influenced by Amanda Parsons, while Linge's guitar deliveries state a midpoint between Phil Miller's stylish chops and Fred Frith's cerebral delirium. Additionally, Hedrén's organ emulates the vibrato archetypized by Dave Stewart and Mike Ratledge. Well, Kultivator is mostly Canterbury- based, which is not a denial of the band's capacity to elaborate certain variables in this frame. The first three pieces pretty much fit the standard described in this review, with the third one being the most aggressive track: this is due to the way that Carlsson's fuzzed bass takes center stage in the track's development. 'Kära jord' and 'Grottekvarnen' are the two longest numbers in the album, with enough room to work on the extroverted side of the band. The interactions are solid and creative, allowing the main motifs to be developed toward an electrifying climax. The namesake track is another highlight: it starts with a beautiful intro on recorder, which eventually turns out augmented by the whole ensemble with controlled colorfulness: if one ever wondered how it would be if Gentle Giant and Gilgamesh had written and recorded a prog piece together, this song is the answer. 'Vårföl' has a festive mood that places a sense of warm flourishes, while the closer 'Novarest' finds the band going the opposite way, to the dark side of their musical voice. To my ears, it sounds like a mixture of UZ's "1313" and ZMM's "Familjesprickor". The final blow works as an effective farewell to the repertoire. But this is not the CD's finale, since it contains two excellent bonus tracks. 'Häxdans' retakes the mixture of Renaissance colors and jazzy dynamics that was already present in the 'Barndomens Stigar' track. 'Tunnelbanan Medley' is a live track from a 1979 concert: it follows the pattern of the official album's first three pieces. Kultivator is a must for every lover of experimental prog with a heavy Canterbury component: as simple as that.
Report this review (#176081)
Posted Friday, July 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Swedish one-shot band released this strange album in 1981. Nothing from time signatures happily could be found on it. The music there is unusual mix of psychedelic progressive fusion and zeuhl with some female vocals.

Being somewhere on the border between two genres, the music is not jazzy enough to be classified as jazz fusion (or even Canterbury), but at the same time isn't such dark, old and gothic-avant to be tagged as real zeuhl. Combination looks quite interesting on paper, but in real life compositions are not enough focused. When listening, you can hear zeuhl pieces and progressive fusion pieces, and even some classic-influenced pieces, but all them hardly present final musical product. In many cases, that pieces just stay separated musical pieces, taken from different genres.

Really original album, released in the time of post-punk and new age, but not strong enough to be counted as it's time significant progressive release. Possibly, more interesting for researchers, than for casual jazzy/avant progressive fans.

Report this review (#293255)
Posted Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Kultivator were a band from Sweden who only released this one album. This is a great album released at a time when we are told 'prog' was on life-support. For 1981, progressive rock doesn't get much better than this. The music here is an interesting cross between Canterbury and Zeuhl. There is guitar, bass, drums and keyboards(Rhodes, organ, synth). Some flute and other traditional folky instruments. Both male and female vocals. The latter remind me of both Hatfield's Northettes and the singers from Eskaton.

You can listen to the first song "Hoga Hastar" here on PA. What a song it is! Listen to the drums and bass at the beginning. Wow. This song has a memorable organ part. Nice sound from the Rhodes before it goes into a folky part with flute. Later on there is a guitar solo with some synth. "Vemod" is where Anekdoten got the name of their first album. "Kara Jord" has a great Zeuhl-like section that starts 2 1/2 minutes in. About 5 1/2 minutes there is a Zeuhl bass part with a Canterbury guitar solo. Sweet. The title track starts off folky with flute. Before the first minute comes some great drums, bass and Rhodes. The flutes from the beginning come back. A good organ solo in this song.

"Grottekvarnen" has some great drumming. A nice organ solo before an atmospheric section with lots of hi-hat action. Drums pick up then a great fuzzy guitar solo. "Varfol" starts off with a Rhodes and guitar part that sounds like Samla Mamma Manna. "Novarest" has male and female vocals doing a call-and-response of the song title. I like the guitar tone in this song. Love the Rhodes part that starts 2 1/2 minutes in.

Of the two bonus songs here, "Haxdans" is the most interesting. There is some kind of traditional percussion which sounds like tabla. Nice synth at the beginning. The majority of the song is very fusionesque. If you love Hatfield & The North as well as Magma, then you'll love this album. The sound and production is not the greatest, but the compositions and playing is great. 4 stars.

Report this review (#311779)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Though listed as Eclectic Prog, and slightly influenced by the Zeuhl style, Kultivator's Barndomens Stigar has quite a lot to offer to fans of Jazz fusion and Avant-prog, amongst others. The record also occasionally delves into folk territory, particularly in the intro to the title track.

As a "mixed bag" album, Kultivator fuses styles and bridges genre gaps quite well, carrying an ever-constant traditional keyboard-heavy prog feel throughout most of these cross-style excursions. Predominantly an instrumental album, the occasional vocals, mostly female, are very tastefully employed to give the album a very well-rounded feel, never staying too long in one territory or another before taking off somewhere else. The band had an excellent talent for switching styles on a dime without hesitation, but keeping a constant, flowing sort of feeling throughout, as opposed to more well-known style-shifters such as Naked City who were more known for abruptly and unexpectedly changing at the slightest moment's notice.

While this is thought of as a Zeuhl-inspired album, I only detect a hint of the style, particularly on the track Grottekvarnen, but even there the band's tendency to go back to other styles keeps it from being straight Zeuhl. Often times, their excursions into the Zeuhl style break into heavier or more experimental sounding jams or breakdowns, frequently putting me in mind of Red-era King Crimson. Mallet percussion and the free-swinging female vocals remind me of groups such as Bondage Fruit.

There are occasional glimpses of circus music, helped along by the wide range of keyboard and organ tones and voices used liberally throughout the record, and the guitarist's propensity for playing dissonant, jazz-influenced riffs, and occasionally improvising solos in non-traditional keys. These combine with a hundred other little oddities across the span of the record that serve to keep it fresh and exciting to the ears: occasional droning chants, keyboard riffs reminiscent of alien landings, juxtaposition of softer, slower sections, followed with harder and heavier sections, an appearance of a music-box like section, and liberal use of eclectic key changes are just a few of the many examples.

I have to say the strongest instrument here is the drums, played proficiently and consistently by Johan Sv�¤rd. He extensively uses offbeats, bebop-tinged rhythms, unorthodox fills, and typically just a fresh approach to the instrument in general, which is fantastic for this record, as it is heavily rhythmically based.

I highly recommend this record to a wide range of listeners as it's got a little something for lots of different kinds of prog fans, although it does typically border on the fringe styles.

Report this review (#480203)
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Eclectic prog", why not? But Zeuhl? Not in my ears! I'm prepared to concede that some bits and pieces may be considered, in a certain light, as having a slight Zeuhl-like feeling, but I'm sure that it's incidental and I'm ready to wage a small but consequent sum that those guys had never heard Magma (take it or leave it, there is no real Zeuhl outside of Vander's work) when they started recording this beautiful album.

No seriously folks, from the first time I discovered this wonderful lost jewel a few months ago, and on every consecutive listening until now, all I hear in "Barndomens Stigar" is the overwhelming influence of National Health (and also of Hatfield And The North, of course). No need to go too far : the first (short) piece "Haga Hastar" has a "Tenemos Roads" tempo and a Milleresque guitar solo that sounds as if it was coming straight out of Hatfield's first album. The second one "Vemod" starts with a few keyboard notes played by the swedish Dave Stewart, before the northern cousins of the Northettes (the Kultivatorettes?) start singing. And all 10 numbers (including the bonus track) include NH-inspired moments, even those with northern-folk flute parts such as "Barndomens Stigar" itself.

What have those guys become since 1980 ? It would be nice to talk to them and ask them if Miller, Stewart and Pyle have been their inspiration. I'm quite sure that was the case.

In any case, no Canterbury freak, and especially the Hatfield and National Health lovers, should miss this album.

4 enthusiastic and much-deserved stars then.

Report this review (#1721125)
Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Kultivator were a Swedish group whose sole release, Barndomens Stigar, enjoys cover art which puts me in mind of the sort of minimalist cover art enjoyed by American hardcore punk groups of the era, especially the SST stable, tended to use - but the music within couldn't sound more different. Blending the pulsating rhythms of zeuhl with the quirky, jazzy approach and light vocals of the more complex end of the Canterbury scene (think the likes of Hatfield and the North or National Health, rather than Caravan). Although not what I would call absolutely essential, it's certainly a bit of a forgotten gem which deserves to be better known than it is.
Report this review (#2305221)
Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's been years since I've listened to this album and even still nearly a year since I unwittingly, if not unwisely, rated this album sans-review. I've always felt and thought fondly of this album, long considering it one of the great, standout releases of latter-day "Second Wave" [pre-Neo-]Prog, a broad fusion of the so-called Eclectic offerings of their darkest and eeriest predecessors (whether it's VdGG, KC, Magma, Henry Cow, Univers Zero or Cos). [This will be a review of the above version including the single bonus track.]

I have found the hesitancy to claim this as some sort of Zeuhl-offshoot to be completely bizarre. It's not like that is what this music is, yet it's a clear, if not obvious element/influence. We are off to the races with the blazing, tense rhythm of "Höga hästar". Given that this was in 1981, it's markedly modern. Something I didn't expect was how I feel their abilities and group-wide tenacity reminds me greatly of American contemporaries Happy The Man. This opening track offers wild, technical bass-playing and strong drumming, the latter reminiscent in more recent memory of the great Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins, Koenji Hyakkei). The keyboards are bright and buzzing like something we might hear out of Canterbury (think Dave Stewart or Dave Sinclair). A knowledge of Jazz is evident upon hearing the intro to the even-moreso Kentish "Vemod". The layered vocals are like a combination of "the Northettes" (Amanda Parsons, most notably) and Dagmar Krause (Slapp Happy, Henry Cow, Art Bears). An absolutely stunning and thrilling beginning to the album.

L'Jazz continues on "Småfolket". Kultivator are sure masters of tension. And of dynamic composition, handling and weighing beauty with unfettered darkness. Where those first two tracks were essential Peaks of Prog, this is, in the least, Prog Excellence. A whole other side of things is heard on the light, airy Fender Rhodes intro to "Kära jord" (our longest track at just over 7 minutes' length). The keys sorta funk-out and are met with equally light vocals and tiny, percussive clinks. Very cool feel. Zeuhl-ready vocals wordlessly chant on with the slow build of the ensemble. A much more straight-ahead composition than what came before. Where the rhythm stays the same, they do introduce new melodies and such; where the rhythm does change or pick up, the effect of whatever is going on melodically (even when more simplistic/straight) is intensified. The icing on the cake which does grant this a firmer position of "great" is the Phil Miller-esque guitar solo toward the end. Phenomenal, but very tasteful (certainly safer, as one might expect, than anything Phil did during his career).

A shift toward Medieval/Renaissance piping occurs on our title track, "Barndomens Stigar". And once again, once kicked off, we have returned to Zeuhl-adjacent territory. Funky stuff, and a great, somewhat classical(?) theme, too! All over a fairly exotic rhythm section. Hard to place, as I'm trying to avoid calling this, too, "jazzy". Though it is haha. Zeuhl-meets-Canterbury does indeed return on the grooving "Grottekvarnen". Lovely, crisp vocals overlay bright keys. Blazing fast, driven by the high-accuracy roll of the snare drum and, at other times, hi-hat. Hypnotic, really. Super-effected guitar buzzes and bursts over the instensity of the rhythm section and keys in the second half. As with the other longer track before, "Kärajord", the composition is fairly straightforward, but this has the upper hand, in my opinion, in all its glimmering offerings. I don't know how else to describe "Vårföl" but as mischievous haha. Feels like we're up to no good. Playful, but sort of mysterious. And then the breakdown of the rhythm as we enter into what I would consider the bridge, we get another very tasteful guitar solo over rolling keys and counter-melodious bass. Fantastic 3 minutes!

Then we're onto one of the more memorable tracks of the album (not necessarily one of the best...), "Novarest". The simple, chant-like vocals of just the track's title is exchanged by male and female vocals alike (the first clear glimpse of the former). I would think this to be one of the firmest examples of them exploring the funky, though relatively simple tribal appearances of Zeuhl. We get more of that bright, buzzy guitar here, juxtaposed by the soft chordings from the Rhodes(?). Very funky, very memorable, but not all that interesting. Honestly, just maybe my least favorite song on the album [and it is]. And for the whole, that's saying a lot, as this is still quite a good track. We get more of that pipey sort of medieval thing, as "Häxdans" begins with a battle march. As we get into it, they build upon the theme from the intro, performed predominantly then on guitar, with soft wordless vocals. The layering of all the pieces are super satisfying here, from the rolling, melodic bass, to the at times soft (almost acoustic), at times lightly distorted guitar, to the percussion, to the synth and pipe. Great track. Finishing it all out now is the very short (deceptively short for its title) "Tunnelbanan Medley". Just another quick'n'easy and excellent showcase of this band's ability. It sounds quite a bit like material you could have expected during a live Hatfield performance. They are definitely one of the prime sounds I get herein.

So much diversity on this album that it's surprising there's little to no so-called whiplash at hand. Perhaps, I can now admit, I had approached this album with rose-colored glasses back when I had rated this at first [Though I wasn't that far off haha]. It is a fantastic album nonetheless and I would recommend it to most all Prog fans. Its diversity is one of its strengths, but so is the sheer collective talent of Kultivator. Grateful for the bonus material since made available, but it's a bit of a shame this is their sole release.

True Rate: 4.5/5.0

Report this review (#2583431)
Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2021 | Review Permalink

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