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5 stars Perfect Score, for an almost perfect album. Lets say is somewhere between 4.5 rounded up to give this cd the proper boost it deserves. With echoes of the last Beardfish album, "On Her Journey to the Sun" has a lot of good quality music that stands on its own and it separates itself in style/composition from the above mentioned band. If you notice David Zackrisson, lead guitar from Beardfish, contributes in this album.

Its the first time we see above 10min mark songs on a Gungfly record and thats a good sign. Theres more time to explore and develop ideas. Good example for this is the opener "Of the Orb" with some genesis hints its definitely a highlight here. I d like to separate this album into three parts. The first three songs flow together really well, "On her journey to the sun" has one of the best vocal performances i ve heard from Rikard Sjoblom, I cant help to sing along to the high pitched notes. "He held an axe" slow paced ballad with some kind of indie vibe, this is one of the things I ve meant previously regarding different style and composition from Beardfish.

The second part of the album its the craziest one. Well its no accident cause if I m not wrong "My Hero" and "Polymixia" were songs originally written for Beardfish. And "If you fall pt1" sounds like an instrumental remminiscent of The Sane Day sessions. "Polymixia" its the second longest song here, and its completely instrumental! Took a long time to finally dig this one, its really marvelous.

The Third and last part of the album its a bit weaker, but still great. Would have cut some song here as when "The river of sadness" arrives, the listener its a bit tired already. "Old demons die hard" its shockingly good, it sounds fresh and new. Smart and catchy lyrics. It was a good call releasing it as the first single. "Keith (The Son of Sun)" is the second instrumental, shorter than Polymixia but more relaxing and acoustic. "The River of Sadness" its the longest track here, it might have one of the best chorus, great instrumental section, some piano and bandoneon to give a more eclectic feeling and some funky lines. The album ends and goes full circle with the start of this spiritual journey "Maybe this is all a dream". One of the best records i ve heard from 2017.

Report this review (#1727984)
Posted Monday, May 29, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars [Review originally posted on on May 22, 2017]

Rikard Sjöblom's Gungfly ? On Her Journey to the Sun: Eclectic prog's most underappreciated songwriter delivers another stunning success By Kris McCoy, Rock At Night Contributor

Never fear, Beardfish fans.  All is not lost.

If you are a fan of finely shaped progressive rock, with strong vintage 70s sounds, you should be familiar with Rikard Sjöblom. As the multi-instrumentalist madman behind the microphone of the now-legendary Beardfish, he sang about everything from personal loss to dreams of sneaking into the backstreets of some sleazy '70s disco club. Wielding his keyboard like an 88-key progressive rock machine gun and a shoulder-slung guitar much in the same manner, Sjöblom truly was the face of the band. During his run with Beardfish, Rikard also produced two albums under the name Gungfly.  The Gungfly side project served as Rikard's outlet for his less proggy, singer-songwriter soul rock ideas that didn't fit the Beardfish catalog.

"Gungfly was born out of necessity," Sjöblom comments. "The songs came to life whenever there was downtime with Beardfish or if a song didn't quite fit within Beardfish's (otherwise quite broad and eclectic) frame of styles. I basically started recording songs, mainly pop-oriented material, but being the type of songwriter and musician I am some prog slipped through under the radar as well. The name Gungfly is a Swedish word meaning 'Unsecure ground', it came from a novel I read where it was used to describe that someone didn't have grounds to back up their statements, so I liked it and chose to call the project that."

In 2016, Beardfish sadly called its quits.  In the wake of this announcement, Rikard embarked on a short North American tour in support of his remarkable solo album "The Unbendable Sleep".  His band consisted of brothers Petter and Rasmus Diamant, who had also performed on prior Gungfly material. During these shows, four new compositions were presented along with the announcement that an album was forthcoming.  These new songs were performed in a 3-piece, straightforward rock arrangement.  Did this mean the new album would also be a simplified guitar/bass/drum rock album?

Well, that new album is finally here, and, no, it's far from straightforward arrangements.  This album brings an abundance of progressive rock complexity in the form of an emotional an often inspiring musical collage.  Some could argue that it fits nicely within the Beardfish catalog as a follow-up to 2015's "+4626-COMFORTZONE".

"On Her Journey to the Sun" features 11 tracks.  The Diamant brothers return on bass and drums but are joined by David Zackrisson (Beardfish guitarist).   Sverker Magnusson and Martin Borgh round out the line-up by providing additional keyboard support.  Rachel Hall (Big Big Train) offers a beautiful guest violin spot in "Over My Eyes". The main attraction, however, remains Rikard Sjöblom's soulful vocals, gripping guitars, mischievous organ work, and well-balanced songwriting.

The album offers everything that we've come to love and expect from his ever-evolving musical mind.  While I'm not certain that it should be labeled a concept album, lyrical themes surface throughout.  The vocal performance extends from confident, aggressive lower/mid ranges to a vulnerable and sincere upper register.  Meanwhile, his signature sense of complex-yet-catchy keyboard melodies and guitar work that spans the spectrum of folksy to downright face melting are all over the tracks.

Musically, we are again treated to a full array of styles.  The 10 minutes long opener "Of the Orb" grabs your attention with its delicious synth and guitar harmonies topped off by Sjöblom's unique falsetto begging 'Stay with me, care for me, I will be yours.'  Further down "If You Fall, Pt. 1" is a short, somber offering based around a singular organ melody, offering a heavy contrast to the previous track, the upbeat, high-energy, bass-heavy rocker "My Hero".

Gungfly is, however, most intriguing in the Gentle Giant-inspired instrumental breakdowns that overflow with imaginative, Seussian whimsy.  If that's what draws you to Rikard's work, you will immediately fall in love with the effervescent melodies in the nearly 12-minute instrumental "Polymixia". Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other instrumental "Keith".  The smooth, chill vibe on this jazz tune tenders an astounding level of maturity and restraint reminiscent of guitar legend Eric Johnson.

The album production and mix is superb.  Each listen will reveal new layers you hadn't previously observed.  After casually running through about 10 times, I listened again through headphones on a quiet night and couldn't believe the nuances that lay beneath the surface.  I can't wait to see what I discover next.

Fans of playful yet intricately-crafted, thought-provoking guitar and organ-driven prog-rock should take note of this album immediately. Rikard and the gang should be proud. Though the distance to the sun is considerable, I highly recommend you to embark on this journey.

[About the special edition with bonus disc] The special edition also features a Best of Gungfly bonus disc containing tracks from Please Be Quiet (2009) and Lamentations (2011).  This material is a great addition for those unfamiliar with Gungfly's previous work, but serious Rikard/Beardfish fans will want to pick up the entire Gungfly catalog if they haven't already done so.

Report this review (#1769416)
Posted Monday, August 7, 2017 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Rikard Sjoblom is of course the singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist from the Swedish band BEARDFISH. So naturally BEARDFISH is going to come to mind with Rikard's vocals being on here. I did find this lighter sounding than BEARDFISH overall and unfortunately this album just hasn't clicked with me. Maybe I was expecting to much but man I was looking forward to this record. It' a concept album and I like the cover art. We even get a guest appearance from BIG BIG TRAIN's Rachel Hall playing violin on one track.

I have a lot of fond memories of listening to early BEARDFISH back in the day, especially the "Sleeping In Traffic" albums and "The Sane Day" recording where we get so much humour and a strong Zappa vibe. They were all so entertaining though which is what is missing here in my opinion, well something's missing. This clocks in at around 75 minutes.

"Of The Orb" opens with spoken words saying "Maybe this was all a dream" which is also quoted to end the recording. I can't get over the GENESIS vibe on this opener with the intricate guitar and Rikard mentioning the "Cinema show" and then later with the synths. A full sound kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes including more passionate vocals. The tempo picks up a minute later. This is good. Some nice guitar and drum work after 5 minutes followed by organ after 6 1/2 minutes. There's that GENESIS vibe again before 8 minutes. A top three.

"On Her Journey To The Sun" has this urgent soundscape but the vocals are relaxed. I thought I'd like this more being it's the title track. The focus is on the vocals really, not surprising I suppose given it's a concept album. I like the final minute best without vocals as we get some energetic instrumental work. "He Held An Axe" opens with acoustic guitar as reserved vocals join in. It's fuller before a minute but this is still relaxed. More passion 2 minutes in but it's brief.

"My Hero" is a top three tune for me. This one's more powerful including the organ, lots of depth to the sound. A GENESIS reminder here too. Love the bass though, and the vocals don't arrive until after 2 minutes as powerful and intricate sounds continue. Check out the bass before 5 minutes and the synths that follow. Nice. I like the long scream from Rikard before 7 minutes. "If You Fall" has relaxed piano to start as harpsichord-like sounds arrive. A full sound takes over quickly. Piano and drums 2 1/2 minutes in to the end.

"Polymixia" is my favourite song on here. This one is all about the clavinet, in fact it might be the best clavinet driven tune I've ever heard. This is complex and powerful and I wish there was more of this. Piano leads the way 3 minutes in but after 5 1/2 minutes it's all about the clavinet. Some female vocal melodies as well which I appreciate. A heavier sound follows with organ and more. The clavinet does return though. "Over My Eyes" features Rachel on violin giving this tune a different shade for sure. It's mellow with relaxed vocals to start out then the violin joins in. It picks up after 2 minutes, drums too. Plenty of vocals and violin in this one.

"Old Demons Die Hard" is led by the drums and vocals at first but it turns fuller quickly. Sounds like BEARDFISH before 3 minutes as he sings in a more ambitious way. The guitar and bass impress after 4 minutes. "Keith(The Son Of Sun)" is pleasant as the organ gives way to intricate guitar and a beat.

"The River Of Sadness" is uptempo with piano, drums and guitar standing out, vocals too. This is catchy and I like how themes are repeated. We even get some accordion on this one around 4 minutes in. Cool sound after 5 minutes as they slow it down with vocals. Synths will replace the vocals then the reserved vocals come back and it will kick back in after 8 minutes.

"All A Dream" ends it and I really like the dark atmosphere at first as sparse piano leads then spoken words as the atmosphere disappears. He ends it with the same words this all started with then the powerful atmosphere returns to end it.

Man I'm sure I'm in the minority with my rating here. I just prefer the band BEARDFISH to this. I was surprised to see that this is Rikard's third studio album though. I have a feeling many will have this on their final 2017 album list though.

Report this review (#1788234)
Posted Thursday, September 28, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a surprise. Thanks to Spotify, wich displays similar albums when you play a certain album, I came across this album.

The music is quite organic, wich means it sounds like it was produced in the seventies. Lots of influences from 70's acts: Camel, Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and the likes.

The band has some stoner/psych influences but mostly this is symphonic progressive rock wich sounds adventurous and spacey. The guitars and keyboards (organ, piano, mellotron and the occasional synth) are well mixed and the vocals are okayish. But for this kind of symphonic rock, vocals are of the least importance, but they are good nevertheless.

I'm not familiar with the other albums of Gungly nor the albums of Beardfish, so I guess I have a lot of researching to do.

Report this review (#1868937)
Posted Wednesday, January 24, 2018 | Review Permalink

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