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Simon Steensland


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Simon Steensland Fat Again album cover
4.11 | 30 ratings | 4 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Der Klang Von 'Musik' (16:13)
2. Lost in the Ark (2:00)
3. Merde (0:25)
4. Memories of Jan Josta (2:27)
5. Loch Ness (2:20)
6. Hide & Seek (8:26)
7. Fral Oss Ifran Ondo (2:05)
8. The Queen of Sweden (1:52)
9. Petite Merde (0:26)
10. The Lion Tamer (20:23)

Line-up / Musicians

- Simon Steensland / bass, cello, guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Arvid Pettersson / electric piano, accordion
- Robert Elovsson / keyboards, clarinet
- Einar Baldurrson / guitars
- Morgan Agren / drums
- Aurelia Le Huche / vocals
- Eva Rexed / vocals

Releases information

AltrOck, ALT 007

Thanks to avestin for the addition
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SIMON STEENSLAND Fat Again ratings distribution

(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

SIMON STEENSLAND Fat Again reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having received this album from AltrOck, I realized I have been ignoring Simon Steensland albums long enough and I should get some of his former albums to better understand what all the fuss is about and what his music is like, having read interesting things about it. So I set out and got The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble (1993), The Zombie Hunter (1995) and Led Circus (1999). All of these were fine releases and in my opinion got better as they progressed chronologically. But they are not the subject of this review here.

Simon Steensland who plays here multiple instruments (bass, keyboards, guitar, glockenspiel, harmonium, cello, banjo) has been working on this release for 3 years, from 2005 to 2008 and has several musicians playing with him here: Robert Elovsson (keyboards, clarinet) and Morgan Agren (drums) both from Mats/Morgan; Einar Baldursson (guitars) from Gosta Berlings Saga; Arvid Pettersson (Fender rhodes, accordion); And a whole group of female vocalists: Aurelia Le Huche, Eva Rexed, Helena Ahlback, Ingrid Gustafsson, Sara Nygren, Anna Nygren, Elvira Van Halen, Moa Zerpe, Lotta Ostlin Stenshall, Ellekari Larsson, Birgitta Steensland.

Fat Again, out in 2009 on the fine and growing Italian label AltrOck (where luminaries like Yugen, Rational Diet and miRthkon released albums through), is a delight to listen to. With chamber prog (Thiking Plague and Univers Zero, albeit more upbeat and rough) and zeuhl influences, as can be clearly heard in the opening and closing pieces (Der Klang Von "Musik" and The Lion Tamer), superb musicianship (fantastic bass playing and drumming), this album presesnts variety in moods; from uplifting and upbeat moments to highly dynamic and darker sides; from frantic pace and style to calmer and peaceful elements prevailing through. Just by the first composition alone which I mentioned above, I can tell Simon is a very well accomplished composer that knows very well how to set a musical scene; how to plan it and execute it to the very fine details; how to make it flow seamlessly from one section to another, where each is dominated by differing elements. These two lengthy opening and closing tracks engulf seven short pieces and one medium length composition. And these are not too different from the lengthy tracks. In fact they continue their style and mood and develop them. For instance, Lost In The Ark, has female voices chanting together, with a guitar in the background and some eerie sounds as well, creating a somewhat spooky and weird mood. This escalates in Merde!, where a Thinking Plague-like sound comes in as the whole female choir sings together with the bass playing a long tone and the drums insanely going about. And all this takes only 25 seconds! Then Memories of Jan Josta comes in with again the bass giving the dominant tone here, and Univers Zero and Thinking Plague influences coming through. The keyboards here add a nice touch, though they are a bit low in the mix. And while it is a short track, it is nicely developed and satisfying. The Queen Of Sweden is another frenzied track, with a groovy melody line, followed by another very short piece (Petite Merde) that in a way serves as an intro to the final 20 minutes piece. This again, has a very dominant bass line and drumming and a structured melody line with a very rich arrangement done by Simon. The piece progresses and develops nicely from one section to the next.

I must really mention the great drumming work done here and the splendid bass work along with the efficient keyboards playing that gives the music the much needed peculiar and special atmosphere. This was a very nice and pleasant surprise for me to listen to this wonderful album, a great find and a highly recommended listening experience for those who like chamber prog, zeuhl and bands like Univers Zero, Thinking Plague, Magma and 5UU's.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With a solo career streching back to the early 90's, Swedish composer and multi-instrumentalist Simon Steensland is without a doubt a gentleman that deserves to be tagged a veteran in the music business.

His latest venture Fat Again is the result of three years of labour, and the end result is an effort that should please most fans looking for truly challenging music.

While there are a few vocal passages to be found, this excursion is a mostly instrumental affair. The bass seems to be the driving instrument, closely competing with the drums for that role, and the musical foundation is probably best described as fusion. Jazz fans will find many familiar elements on Fat Again, especially from the aforementioned rhythm section.

Steensland does add quite a lot to this foundation though. Dissonances, disharmonies and cacaphonic passages unfolds on a regular basis, and lots of more or less twisted improvised-sounding sequences is a key feature, especially in the three longer tracks dominating this disc. All of this is run through an avant-garde filter, with folk-tinged and symphonic inspired themes added on occasion as a nice topping. On opening epic Der Klang von "Musik" we're even served a passage rather close to brutal metal in expression.

As far as references go, Magma is probably a band worth mentioning. But unlike the diciplinerian French outfit, Steensland allows himself and his musicians to be both innovative and creative. Not always for the better, some themes would probably have ended up better with a bit more dicipline, but the end result is most certainly a better one as far as I'm concerned - at least if comparing this years productions by these two artists.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Simon Steensland hails from Sweden and obviously has a sense of humour as witnessed by the album cover here. So funny. Oh and the album's title is humerous as well. Interesting because the music has nothing to do with humour, in fact it's quite dark, intense and eerie at times. I have to tell you that this album is an absolute gem, sort of a Zeuhl / Avant / Rio mix that is so well done. Simon has some incredible guests here helping him out including a host of female vocalists with there wordless melodies. Simon is a MAGMA fan having contributed a track to one of those tribute albums, and it shows here. The guitarist is the present one for GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA, I gave the album he played on 5 stars. The guy can play. And so can Simon, a multi-instrumentalist who plays a variety of instruments including cello, harmonium, guitar, keyboards, bass and more. The two guys from MATS / MORGAN help out along with other guests.

"Der Klang Von "Musik"" is a monster (maybe that's where the idea for the cover art came from). It kicks in quickly with an intense rhythm section. Organ follows and it comes and goes. I like the guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. It becomes more prominant a minute later. The heavy beat slows down until it stops 4 1/2 minutes in. It kicks back in at 6 minutes. This is heavy duty. The heaviness lets up but it's still intense. It settles after 11 1/2 minutes and it's dark. Accordion joins in. Heavy again 14 minutes in, in fact it's ANEKDOTEN-like here. The tempo picks up. Insane ! "Lost In The Ark" opens in a mellow way as female vocal melodies come in. "Merde!" is a short tune with outbursts of drums and vocal melodies. Cool sound.

"Memories Of Jan Josta" is almost catchy and it's quite dark. A haunting finish to this song as well. "Loch Ness" sounds like outbursts of vibes that come and go in a dark atmosphere. "Hide & Seek" opens with a beat as these eerie sounding multi vocals join in. Incredible sound ! The drums are excellent. This is such a trip. Very Zeuhl-like. "Frals Oss Ifran Ondo" is laid back with female vocal melodies. "The Queen Of Sweden" features some cool sounds and it turns intense later. "Petite Merde" is 26 seconds of female vocal melodies. Five ladies singing on this one. "The Lion Tamer" has so much going on once it gets going. It settles after 2 minutes with guitar, bass and drums. Very intense 6 minutes in. Clarinet before 11 1/2 minutes and it gets kind of crazy. Heavy duty 14 minutes in then it settles with female vocals. Vibe-like sounds after 15 1/2 minutes. It's spooky 17 1/2 minutes in to the end.

Music for the adventerous. Easily 4 stars.

Review by TheGazzardian
5 stars Overview

Fat Again by Simon Steensland was one of my first RIO/Avant prog albums, and to date, I still haven't heard anything else that sounds quite like it. The players on this album play their instruments in a way that is truly fascinating to me, and it is worth many spins just to hear the unique playing of all the musicians who have gathered around Simon Steensland for this recording (including Einar Baldursson, who, as John mentioned in his review already, is also a member of Gosta Berlings Saga, another excellent band from the modern era).

The album is comprised, with two types of songs. There are the "epic" lengthier tracks, including the opener (Der Klang Von "Musik", clocking in at 16 minutes) the closer (The Lion Tamer, clocking in at 20), and Hide and Seek (8 minutes). Then their are the pieces that sound, to my ear, like little pieces of candy - short but sweet - only in this case, the candy also has a bit if sour added to it for additional flavour.

The Music

Der Klang Von "Musik" (which translates to The Sound of "Music") is, at this point, my favorite track off of the album and an excellent way to open up the album. Throughout it's 16 minutes, it shifts mood and texture multiple times, starting with an off-kilter beat, switching to a more spaced out section, using light electric guitars, thick bass, and woodwinds. From here, it builds into something a bit more electric, eventually adding very, very heavy guitars. This is not even seven minutes in, and over the nine minutes of the song that remain, it continues to twist and turn, inundating your ears with excellent music the entire time.

Next, the album gives us four "treat" tracks, the short Lost In The Ark, Merde!, Memories of Jan Josta, and Loch Ness (ranging from 0:25-2:27). The sound of these tracks ranges, from sung vocals (Lost in the Ark) to simply layered, odd-sounding wordless vocals (Merde!), to instrumental tracks (Memories of Jan Josta and Loch Ness). Loch Ness in particular, which features xylophone, lots of space, and airy backing instrumentation, is a fascinating track.

Just past the halfway point, we are introduced to "Hide and Seek", a song that is built up on top of a pattern, with various instruments playing with or against the main beat of the song, which is started once again by those haunting female vocals. The song tends to be quite hypnotic throughout it's run and is yet another of my favorite tracks off this album.

The next three tracks are the last of the short tracks, including my favorite short track and the one that got me interested in this album, "The Queen of Sweden". Xylophone (I think) plays odd tone runs while the rest of the song builds up underneath, becoming quite an appealing track, and unlike anything else I have heard in my experience to this point.

The Lion Tamer starts with a fun little drum beat before building up. In the end, it does sort of settle on a basic beat, relying more on slow build-up and subtle changes than the opener. In this sense, the Lion Tamer is a more chilled out song, and an apt way to close the album.


Visually, the album is quite interesting. There is, of course, the amusing cover art, but more amusing to me is the image imprinted on the CD, of Spiderman in the mountains wearing a baret and carrying a case of beer and a guitar. Perhaps this is Simon's creative process - dress a Spiderman, hide in nature, drink beer and jam?

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