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Agusa - En Annan Varld CD (album) cover

EN ANNAN VARLD

Agusa

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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3 stars Agusa is a new Swedish four piece formation that started in 2013, the name is derived from the place where the band did jam sessions. Late 2013 Agusa went into the studio to record the debut album entitled Högtid, released in early 2014. During the winter drummer Dag Strömkvist decided to leave and to travel around India for a while. After a number of auditions Tim Wallander joined the band, and in the beginning of 2015 Jenny Puertas on flute became the newest Agusa member. In 2015 Agusa released the second effort entitled Två, followed by Agusa in 2017, and a serie of live albums between 2016 and 2018. And now, anno 2021, Agusa has released a new album named En Annan Värld featuring two epic instrumental compositions.

Sagobrus (25:01) : This longest track is in the 24-carat symphonic rock tradition: dynamic and varied, with lots of changing atmosperes and breaks, and coloured by a wide range of instruments. The one moment dreamy with twanging acoustic guitar and soaring flute (strongly reminding me of fellow Swedish band Anglagard) or a slow rhythm featuring a Hammond organ solo and a fiery, distorted guitar, turning in a sumptuous climate. The other moment an accelaration with Jethro Tull-like flute traverse, and a tight beat. Or from dreamy with churchy Hammond sound and moving guitar solo to atmospheric with organ arpeggios, slowly turning into more dynamic and bombastic, embellished with pleasant flute, organ and guitar work (again reminding me of Anglagard but also Camel). My highlight is halfway: a mid-tempo with a long and swirling solo on Hammond organ (evoking Peter Bardens from Camel), and strong rhythm-section, topped with a wah-wah drenched guitar sound. The shifting moods are very flowing and the band succeeds to keep my attention, bravo!

Uppenbarelser (21:12) : This other epic composition strongly differs from the previous one. First the emphasis is on ambient and atmospheric music featuring sound collages, soaring flute and organ, gradually a slow rhythm, turning into more dynamic with sensitive electric guitar leads. Then back to mellow with soaring flute, a mellow sounding Hammond joins, followed by fragile howling electric guitar runs, powerful bass work, and a short flute solo. Halfway the mood shifts to psychedelic, like early Pink Floyd, with a fiery and biting electric guitar solo, and dreamy organ play, pretty hypnotizing and compelling. In the final part (more sounding like the first composition) first dreamy with flute, then turning into bombastic with organ, guitar and flute (again Anglagard hints), and finally back to dreamy with flute and tender acoustic guitar. A pleasant variety.

My rating: 3,5 star.

Report this review (#2595364)
Posted Saturday, September 18, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars News from Agusa! Three years after Ekstasis, the Swedish formation's fifth album, En Annan Värld, was released in autumn 2021. The line-up has changed a bit in the meantime, with keyboardist Roman Andrén and bassist Simon Ström are two new musicians on board, the latter also doing the cover design for the new album.

Musically, the quintet remains largely true to its proven style. En Annan Värld contains only two pieces, both over twenty minutes long and again completely instrumental, which take us on a journey back in time to the 1970s, especially to the beginning of the decade. From the first bars on, you are carried away into a mystical world that may not even lie in other dimensions, but somewhere deep in the forests of Scandinavia in an enchanted village. Because the music is always steeped in a distinctly folkloric component, for which the omnipresent flute with lyrical-pastoral, often somewhat mystical inserts is responsible. The keys are again limited to the organ, which, in addition to Bo Hansson, also reminds us of the Peter Bardens at times, especially his playing on Camel's first two albums. The guitar is surprisingly rocking every now and then, which creates nice contrasts to the prevailing mood of slight melancholy. Bass and drums accompany the whole thing confidently.

The two pieces are colorful and varied. Especially on Sagobrus there are always passages in which the music gains momentum; in such passages the flute can really deliver amazing moments. But the music soon falls back into this inimitable, comforting, elegiac mood of gently swirling organ and lyrical flute playing, to which the guitar occasionally starts a solo, which then turns a little towards Krautrock. On the other hand, Uppenbarelser shows to be more solemn, also more mystical; but this piece also offers enough variety that there is no boredom over the long playing time.

In short, En Annan Värld shows Agusa at the same high level as on the previous albums and once again underlines Scandinavia's leading position in the field of recent retro-prog. Strong album!

Report this review (#2605753)
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars A fantastic overlooked album, also one of my favorites from 2021.

It contains two large instrumental pieces that evokes elements of Pink Floyd, Jethro tull, Genesis and others 70's classic rock bands. Each piece has around 20~25 minutes, which makes the album clocks at 45 minutes, so this is still a surprisingly easy to listen album.

Sagobrus is a symphonic oriented piece with a recurring flute melody through it's 25 minutes length allied with different independent intermediary movements, flowing between slower, rhythmic or very intense passages. On other hand, Uppenbarelser is a lot different, slower and very atmospheric. It explores different textures before reaching to its both climaxes, and it is so far my favorite of both pieces.

Report this review (#2607914)
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2021 | Review Permalink
3 stars For die-hard fans of the first PINK FLOYD jets, for the psychedelic side, for lovers of old prog rock like CAMEL and GENESIS or ANGLAGARD ice creams, for flute fans as in the days of JETHRO TULL, for those who adore the retro prog or vintage prog rock, for those who like to take the time to unplug their phone and dig into one of the two extended tracks from this 4th AGUSA album.

For all those who adore Scandinavia, large pieces with Mellotron and vintage instruments, which have remained with purely orchestral developments, this disc is made for you! There are two sides of more than 20 atmospheric and bucolic minutes with a mess of drawers, breaks where the flute bottles emotion by revising the sounds of the aforementioned groups.

For others, those who want to hope to listen to a recent sound, there will be a slight or great disappointment because you are indeed in a retro-prog territory of beautiful quality with reminiscences but little pure musical creation; the observation is there, the beauty of the genre does not mean musical perfection, some may be bored without saying that it is bad, we quite agree on that!

Report this review (#2633562)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are very few albums that have a way to make you an addict. BEWARE. This album will end up requesting you to hear it again ... and even ask yourself ... what is this?

It is real easy to find bits and pieces of their music that will remind you of some moments in Jethro Tull, Caravan, Camel, Focus and a few other things that you have heard before. But if you think that this is about sounding like the 1970's rock sound that we love and appreciate so much, and have considered it "progressive", then, let's say that this is the modern version of that.

Unlike one other album I have heard from them, this time, there is almost no touch of the folk/rock sound they appeared to have before, and this has become a seriously well defined rock band, that knows how to extend a piece of music, and while at it ... make it nice for us ... and then some.

Both pieces in this album develop slowly and basically just explode strongly, in a way that is amazing ... what seemed like a simple song, has become a monster ... just like out addictions, right? Their development as a piece from beginning to end, is well done and probably thought out, as there does not seem to be a lot of just bare improvisation here, but a really well established piece defined from improvisation to become something that is special.

Of special talent here, is the keyboard sound, the flute and the guitar ... and they serve up a really nice combination, that never feels like you are just hearing a solo ... it seems to be very well defined into the music, so there is no "solo" per se, and the guitar punctuates the development really well, and often is setup by the flute or the organ/keyboards. The keyboard sound itself, is so nice to listen to that it will merit a 2nd (and more) listens, because it is so pretty. And the same can be said for the flute, and then the guitar, the one place where it is easy to think ... he's soloing again and everyone else shuts up ... not here, it is a part of the "symphonic" design of both of these pieces, and the expansion of the guitar parts, are really a treat.

The 2nd piece (Sagobrus) is the one that really takes me away quickly ... just as soon as you think about this or that, it takes you to another place, and does it really well, and at that point your ability to think of other bands you have heard before, just goes away, and the band lives really well on its own in your mind.

This is a highly recommended album for anyone that is serious in their "progressive" collection. The superb thing here, is the cohesion and the well defined sections and their taking the piece further and further, and never once feel like you are left behind ... instead, like me, sometimes you are just out of breath!

I don't know that one can ask for more about an album, and its music. Just super all around and highly recommended.

Report this review (#2636812)
Posted Thursday, November 25, 2021 | Review Permalink

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