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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Surprising Scandinavian Duo

Years ago I failed to give proper attention to Scandinavian bands, but after all the marvelous music that came from that region, never made that mistake again, and honestly the vast majority of bands from this part of the world haven't disappointed me, so when the Norwegian band JORDSJÃ? was suggested to Symphonic, listened to the samples and bought Jord immediately.

My first impression of Jord was of delight and surprise, especially when found that the band consists of a duo (Håkon Oftung in the vocals, flute, guitars & keys and the percussionist Kristian Frøland), something unusual for such an elaborate recording, but let's go to the album which is the reason why we are here

Jord is opened by Over Vidda a flute and percussion preamble that places the listener in the mood for a mysterious an elaborate album, it's nice and refreshing but the real deal starts with the frantic Abstraksjoner Fra Et Dunkelt Kammer, a 6:50 mini epic that starts with a soft and melodic introduction that lasts for more or less two minutes, followed by a vocal section that goes "in crescendo" until it explodes in a blast of sounds and musical ideas where the synths take the lead but always having aggressive guitar passages. Simply delightful and the drumming is impeccable.

After this frenetic start the band changes direction with the folksy Finske Skoge a rhythmic track that reminds me of the softer GENESIS tracks with a touch of JETHRO TULL and some killer guitar riffs and again a sober percussion enhanced by Robert William Robert William Dall Frøseth as guest in the bass.

Now it's the turn for Jord I, another explosive song that reminds me of Jordrock by ÄNGLAGÅRD due to the multiple dramatic changes and that marvelous Mellotron that takes me back to the glorious 70s. The vocals (Even when I don't understand a word) help to create that mysterious and dense atmosphere that falls over the listener as a thick mist. Again they hit the nail right in the head.

From the start it's evident that Jord II is a sequel to the previous song, but they manage to maintain the individuality of both tracks with heavier sections and traces of PÄR LINDH's organ, but what impressed me more is the guitar and drums duets when both musicians show their skills. Another high moment in the album.

One thing I value very much in a record is the balance between vibrant and melodic tracks, not too much aggressiveness to desperate the listener neither too many soft passages to bore, and La Meg Forsvinne! helps to keep that equilibrium with an interesting song that blends rock and Jazz elements.

The album is closed by Postludium, an almost electronic instrumental track that caught me by surprise, being that I expected a bombastic finale, but the band went for a softer option that creates a sensation of relaxation after all the previous emotions. Interesting approach.

Usually I hate when the time to rate comes, being that it's hard not to know if you are awarding the album with an undeserved number of stars or being too exigent and unfair with a low rating, but with Jord I don't have that problem, the album impressed me from the first to the last note, I know that in December it will be in my top 10 list of the year, so without hesitation I go with 5 solid stars.

Report this review (#1718067)
Posted Friday, May 5, 2017 | Review Permalink
Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
5 stars This is my first encounter with the band that I discovered when we were asked to add them to the archives. From the first note, I could easily make my mind on what type of band we have here. The type of band that I enjoy since the 90's because the Anglagard influence is obvious with a symphonic Prog/Folk Rock style. The songs are well crafted with gorgeous melodies displayed around the flute, the delicate guitar lines, and the keyboards. The songs are not overly complex and could be on the lighter sides of things and sometimes joyful with some flute sections. While they fit into the melancholic tones of the Scandinave bands, they bring that driving energy in some passages that remind me of White Willow and even Jethro Tull. It's a shame that this band is not more recognized, I should check out their others albums.
Report this review (#1737400)
Posted Saturday, June 24, 2017 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars JORDSJO are a relatively new band out of Norway and this is studio album number three for these guys although they also have a split album with another band which is apparently more in the Electronic realm of things. This particular album touches on Folk but is more in the Symphonic style bringing ANGLAGARD to mind quite often. This is surprising to me because the Swedish melancholy is all over this album with plenty of mellotron too but they aren't Swedish! The ANGLAGARD vibe for me is very strong, as I hear it in the vocals, keyboards, flute and guitar.

I like what Simon(Mascodagama) said about this album in comparing it to ANGLAGARD. To paraphrase "It has more room to breathe and is less suffocating than what the Swedes offer". Listening to this had me thinking though as to why we haven't heard more albums that sound like ANGLAGARD and SINKADUS. I can think of the American band MAXWELL'S DEMON but it is surprising given how popular in Prog circles that ANGLAGARD is that more bands haven't jumped on that sound.

"Over Vidda" is the less than 2 minute intro track that is somewhat haunting with atmosphere and flute. "Abstraksjoner Fra Et Dunkeit Kammer" opens with relaxed guitar followed by laid back flute and these will be contrasted until it starts to pick up 1 1/2 minutes in with drums and more. So good! Love that guitar. Vocals before 2 minutes. A change after 3 minutes as it picks up with guitar and drums before the organ joins in. It settles before 5 minutes with flute and organ then the guitar starts to light it up as the tempo picks up again. Vocals are back before 6 minutes. There's that excellent guitar again.

"Finske Skoger" has these intricate guitar melodies but soon bass, drums, flute and organ join in. A catchy little number. "Jord I" opens with organ followed by melancholic flute and relaxed acoustic guitar melodies. Drums join in then it picks up 1 1/2 minutes in, mellotron too. This is incredible. Electric guitar to the fore after 2 minutes, mellotron as well. Vocals 3 minutes in as it calms down and check out the mellotron choirs 4 minutes in with intricate guitar and keys. Love this! Vocals are back before 5 minutes with mellotron, drums and guitar. Some outbursts after 6 minutes with mellotron to end it.

"Jord II" is the longest song at 8 1/2 minutes and it opens with intricate guitar and strummed acoustic guitar as what sounds like violin joins in. A change 1 1/2 minutes in and man this sounds like ANGLAGARD with the flute over top. The keyboards sound amazing 2 minutes in and check out the flute and mellotron before 3 1/2 minutes. The tempo picks up a minute later. So impressive! Love those keyboards. Some piano melodies then it settles with acoustic guitar 6 1/2 minutes in followed by flute. It picks up again. Man this is killer!

"L Mog Forsvinne!" has an interesting start with those spacey sounds. Synths lead the way here. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in with melodic guitar and a beat. This is really good. Drums and keyboards lead after 4 minutes as the vocals step aside briefly. A nice heavy sound here as the vocals return. More great sounding guitar after 5 minutes then the vocals return before 6 minutes. "Postludium" is spacey and electronic sounding. Spacey synths before 4 minutes to end it.

Yes this will be right near the top, if not at the top of my "best of" list for 2017, I can guarantee that. The Norwegians seem to be taking over the Prog scene and I for one am quite happy about that. Masterpiece!

Report this review (#1781178)
Posted Monday, September 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've only known Jordsjø for about three weeks, but this Norwegian duo has blown me away in a way it hadn't since I bought Änglagård's Hybris back in 1997 (shortly after it went out of print), that prog of this quality can be had and it was released after the 1970s. Jordsjø manages just that for me! The duo consists of multi-instrumentalist Håkon Oftung and drummer Kristian Frøland but from listening to the music you'd think it was a full band, but a full band is hired for live performances. Their double LP set from 2017 compiled material from their first three cassettes, including the split with progressive electronic act Breidablik called Songs from the Northern Wasteland (an obvious reference to Michael Hoenig's Departure from the Northern Wasteland). That double album set left me with me mind blown, it's everything I've ever wanted in prog! The Norwegian vocals may be a bit difficult on non-Norwegian ears, but I have no problem with that, even if I'm American. I'm used to foreign languages in prog ever since I got hooked on Italian prog back in the 1990s. This 2017 cassette release Jord wasn't featured on the double album set, naturally, but it comes to show how much Jordsjø is bound to be a force to reckon with in the prog community. The production seems a bit more polished, but make no doubt about it. The music is the same as before: in the Änglagård, Wobbler, Tusmørke and Sinkadus vein. "Le Meg Forsvinne!" is another one of those Solina String Ensemble-lead pieces similar in vein to "Solina, Min Dronning", it's clear Oftung wanted to record a very similar song. Once again, in the vein of late '70s German prog bands like Eloy or Novalis, there's a brief ELP-like organ break before going back into that late '70s German space prog vein. "Postludium" is very different from the rest of the album as it's firmly in the vein of Breidablik, I wouldn't doubt Breidablik was influencing Oftung. Rather eerie spacy electronic music that's clearly progressive electronic, then it ends with this strange pipe organ that sounds like a Mellotron pipe organ. The way things are going, I expect Jordsjø to be smash hit with progheads everywhere. Their music simply left my mind blown, and Jord is no exception!
Report this review (#1782524)
Posted Saturday, September 16, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Nice instrumental symphonic folk-rock from Norway in the traditions and styles of the masters of the 1970s classics as well as countrymates ÄNGLAGÅRD (only with vocals).

1. "Over Vidda" (1:48) cool album opening with discordant, non-Western sounding flute and low and windy synth washes. (--/10)

2. "Abstraksjoner Fra Et Dunkelt Kammer" (6:50) nice retro electric guitar intro reminiscent of the work and stylings of ÄNGLAGÅRD's Jonas Engdegård. The vocals in the second minute take it out of the realm of their countrymates, but the ensuing guitar-led organ-supported instrumental section bears much resemblance. Bare bones organ with flute in the fifth minute before screeching guitar kicks us back into full gear. (9/10)

3. "Finske Skoger" (2:56) continued guitar lead with a folk melody seeming to be the dominant theme here. I feel like I'm listening to Greece's great CICCADA. Amazing how melodies from different (and distant) folk traditions can sound so similar. Like the TULL-like flute work. (8.5/10)

4. "Jord I" (6:24) technically and conceptually brilliant but lacking that hook or melodic element that invites the listener into the music. Could be said to be too mental, lacking emotion or soul. (9/10)

5. "Jord II" (8:27) blessed with the album's most engaging, melodic, and emotional passage in the keyboard-led mid-section (which is then repeated in a more symphonic form in the finale), this song shows the promise the band holds: to perhaps not only impress but engage. (9.5/10)

6. "La Meg Forsvinne!" (6:38) interesting WHITE WILLOW and WOBBLER-like song. Much more "human" and accessible if "prog-by-numbers." I like the sonic nods to EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER. (8.5/10)

7. "Postludium" (4:42) obviously a solo offering from bandleader Håkon Oftung, this keyboard-based, almost Berlin School sequencer type of prog elecronica, is a cool song, all four movements and its bridges. My favorite song on the album. (9/10)

Total time 37:45

I've been listening to this somewhat short album off and on since it came out in January. My gut feeling is quite similar to that of the music of ÄNGLAGÅRD: technically and conceptually brilliant but lacking something inviting or engaging for the listener. The music could be too cerebral and not emotional enough--especially when the guitarist is the lead/dominant instrument. The keyboards offer a much more engaging sound and styling.

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of technical, symphonic progressive rock music.

Report this review (#1786029)
Posted Saturday, September 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Norwegian band Jordsjo started out as a side project for composer and musician Haakon Oftung back in 2014, which has subsequently grown to become a two man venture and then eventually into a four man strong band unit. Four albums have been released under the Jordsjo moniker by now, all of them as cassette only releases. "Jord" from 2017 is the most recent of these, and this production is also set for a proper CD release, courtesy of Norwegian label Karisma Records, at the end of February this year.

Those fond of classic era symphonic progressive rock should take note of Jordsjo straight away, and note down this band as one that warrants a check sooner rather than later. In particular those fond of mid 70's Camel and Eloy in my opinion, and then especially those that think they would enjoy music of that kind given a light but firm seasoning of Scandinavian folk music elements.

Report this review (#1870967)
Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars Oh, it seems like I'm a wrong prog fan, because I'm the only one here that isn't impressed by this opus! :( Or maybe my expectations were too high after reading the string of rave reviews here? What I hear is a typical Scandinavian prog mixed with a bit of metal and healthy dose of local folk, and patented Scandinavian melancholy. The fact they sing in Norwegian doesn't bother me at all. What does bothers me, though, is music: mostly boring and lifeless. And vocal: emotionless and monotonous. I understand they are Northerners, cold-blooded Scandinavian guys that must survive dark cold wintrers, but so do Anglagard or Ankdoten that however have a lot of passion in their music! Not Joedsjo.... Their music is not bad (although vocal is quite weak...), it just it fails to impress me. I love many bands from Karisma Records staple, but this is an exception. I tried to like them, I listened to the entire opus three times, but still can't hear what's the buzz about. Three stars just because I want to be polite, but 2 stars really....
Report this review (#1941058)
Posted Sunday, June 24, 2018 | Review Permalink

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