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Moon Safari

Symphonic Prog

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Moon Safari Himlabacken Vol. 1 album cover
3.91 | 343 ratings | 19 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Kids (2:06)
2. Too Young to Say Goodbye (6:29)
3. Mega Moon (8:21)
4. Barfly (4:47)
5. Red White Blues (5:08)
6. My Little Man (2:55)
7. Diamonds (6:42)
8. Sugar Band (9:38)

Total Time 46:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Petter Sandström / lead vocals, acoustic guitar
- Pontus Åkesson / acoustic & electric guitars, backing vocals
- Simon Åkesson / lead vocals, piano, organ, Moog, choral & orchestral arrangements
- Sebastian Åkesson / organ, percussion, backing vocals
- Johan Westerlund / bass, backing vocals
- Tobias Lundgren / drums & percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Obestämd Form with Harry Rundström (photo)

CD Blomljud Records ‎- BRCD006 (2013, Sweden)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MOON SAFARI Himlabacken Vol. 1 ratings distribution

(343 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MOON SAFARI Himlabacken Vol. 1 reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Moon Safari is a unique band that comes from Skellefte', Sweden and was formed in 2003. Consisting of Simon 'kesson (vocals and keyboards), Petter Sandstr'm (vocals and acoustic guitars), Pontus 'kesson (acoustic & electric guitars and vocals), Johan Westerlund (bass and vocals), Tobias Lundgren (drums, percussion and vocals) and Sebastian 'kesson (keryboards, percussion and vocals) the band has always had a very straight relationship with another Swedish band, The Flower Kings. Their first album A Doorway To Summer (2005) was produced by the Flower Kings keyboard player Tomas Bodin and this new album Himlabacken Vol 1 (2013) was mixed and mastered by The Flower Kings bass player Jonas Reingold.

What is more, Himlabacken Vol 1 (2013) is a concept album that for sure will have a second part soon. The albums talks about Heavenly Hill (a rough translation of the album title), a place where the band grew up.

The album starts with 'Kids' and it couldn't be more pastoral and divine. A kids song for sure, makes you remember even of your own old days. If there's one thing that makes Moon Safari unique, it is the vocals. Moon Safari sound mixes catchy melodies with the Prog sophistication like no one else does, as if The Beach Boys grew up to be a Prog band in the 70's. 'Too Young To Say Goodbye' is another great example of how to write a perfect melody and yet have the complexity of Prog Rock going. Himlabacken Vol 1 (2013) starts to show what game the band is playing, and this is a game you definitely should sit back and watch till the end.

If the next track, 'Mega Moon' reminded you a bit of 'Ave Maria'' well, so did for me! The first vocal bit of the track proves me right! The instrumental part in the middle is full of great breaks. This is a Moon Safari classic!

'Barfly' has an intense and heavy initial riff, Spock's Beard like. When the vocals start it gets a bit softer. They paid a good homage with some steel guitars by Pontus 'kesson, it's exactly the same style used for George Harrison! 'Red White Blues' is their acoustic side speaking louder. Moon Safari has two main vocalists, Simon 'kesson and Petter Sandstr'm. This is one thing that always made me smile when I listen to a band. The sound usually gets so much better with all these different colors added.

'My Little Man' once again shows the band's acoustic side and it must be Pontus 'kesson homage to his baby son. It's almost a solo piece and it has a big pop feeling. Songs pass by and it's 'Diamonds' time. A song that brings all Moon Safari trade marks on it. 'Diamonds' has also a great lyric, the story telling kind which the bass player Johan Westerlund is so good at. The best track on the album, for sure!

To finish Himlabacken Vol 1 (2013) we have the piano intro of 'Sugar Band'. The track is like an unnamed homage to the fantastic work of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, at least it seems so to me. Another great track.

Although Moon Safari hasn't shown anything new on Himlabacken Vol 1 (2013), it's definitely one of their best albums. Moreover, they mastered their sound on a perfection level. The band has made this album one of the strongest and prettiest albums of 2013.

Highly recommended!

(Originally posted on

Review by kev rowland
5 stars The very first time I came across Moon Safari I just couldn't believe my ears, as I felt that I had stumbled across the musical vocal harmonies of The Carpenters put into a progressive arrangement and it was a whole new ball game. Since then the Swedes have been incredibly consistent, producing one well crafted album after another, so when this arrived in the post it jumped to the top of the queue and was put straight into the player. While there are still some strong elements of Richard and Karen in their vocal arrangements, the guys have also moved into areas more commonly associated with Gentle Giant, as well as Spock's Beard. In fact the last of these has had an influence on some of the music as well, along with The Beatles, City Boy, and a whole host of 70's soft rock and progressive bands. There is a clarity of thought and approach that is sadly missing from some progressive music, and while it can be incredibly complex they also understand that at times simple is just as good.

The moog has its' part to play, and there are some wonderful interplays between that and the guitars, but Moon Safari have their vocals to the fore and the instrumentation playing the supporting role, which is not always the case in this type of music. All six musicians are singers, with Petter and Simon sharing lead duties between them. The arrangements are incredibly well-layered with a separation and use of space and quiet that really adds to the whole. Just play 'Red White Blues' and I can guarantee that you will find it hard to believe that this isn't some long-lost song from nearly forty years ago, as opposed to brand new release. Also, the choice of country origin will be between America and the UK, with the latter likely to just edge it out, not Sweden.

This is a superb album, as Moon Safari continue to meet their own exceptional high standards. This is a concept album, and is only part one of the idea; so I can only hope that the second part will follow soon as I am getting impatient already.

Review by m2thek
3 stars Lover's End was a really important album for me when it came out in 2010. I was going through a hard time in my life and it was the friend that I needed to help me through it. Even more than three years after its release, that album remains one of my favorites and is one of the few pieces of music that is truly special to me that can lift me up whenever I need it. It's obviously unfair to expect Moon Safari's next album to match my adoration of their last, but the nice thing is that it doesn't try to, and presents a different kind of material than the last couple of offerings.

When you look on the surface of Himlabacken Vol. 1, sure, it's got the normal Moon Safari tropes: intricate vocal harmonies, a certain sense of whimsy, clean symphonic instrumentals, and a general upbeat attitude (thankfully, amidst a genre of very bleak music). Basically, if you know you like Moon Safari, you know you like Moon Safari. Digging a little deeper though, there are some good progressions in their sound from the last album. Whereas Lover's End mostly followed the 'post-breakup mood swings,' Himlabacken's unconnected songs allow for a greater variation of mood and style which ultimately creates a more diverse album. There's the usual melancholy, a little joking, some dreamy sequences, surprisingly serious moments, and of course some purposefully over-the-top sequences. This album also sees the band in a more adventurous place in terms of harmony (when compared to themselves at least) that caught me off guard in a good way the first couple of times I listened. The usual musical stuff is just as strong as it's ever been, with the singing/harmonies being the strong point by far and the unfortunately very few substantial instrumental passages being a distant second.

While I really enjoy the base musical components found here, they are only occasionally put to very good use and ultimately the real downfall of Himlabacken is that not enough of the songs are great. It starts off really strong with the 'Kids' / 'Too Young to Say Goodbye' pair but falters a lot in the middle. It doesn't really pick up again in a great way until the second- to-last song 'Diamonds' and then unfortunately finishes rather weakly. I don't think any of the songs are bad, but I only find myself going back to revisit about half of them. The album also doesn't gain much by listening to it in sequence, though it does get a nod for being a perfectly digestible 50 minutes. It's unfortunate that only a handful of the songs here standout because man, those few are really spectacular; I don't think I'll ever get tired of the vocal melody in 'Diamonds' or the chorus of 'Too Young to Say Goodbye.'

The biggest question that always pops up in relation to Moon Safari is 'yeah, but is it really prog?' By the strict definition, yeah, it sort of is. The right answer, though, is that it doesn't really matter. Even without the technicalities and solos of their contemporaries, Moon Safari is a band that obviously puts a lot of feeling and emotion into their music; Himlabacken Vol. 1 may not be the best example of that, it's still easy to see. While this new album has enough good material to please existing fans, for interested newcomers there's no need to look here until you've been through both Blomjud and Lover's End.

Review by aapatsos
3 stars Enough sugar for heart failure

2013 has been a pretty exciting prog year, one of the reasons for me being my acquaintance with this exceptionally interesting band from Sweden. Seeing them performing live was a very good experience, which introduced me to their sugary, albeit fairly unique, sound. A talented bunch of musicians who can all sing, two keyboard players and the marriage of old and new are pretty good constituents.

"Disney prog" said a fellow progger on the radio the other day and I don't blame him, and I don't think Moon Safari would outwardly reject this tag either... Queen meets Beach Boys meets Kansas meets Abba and a bit of Gentle Giant on moogy keyboards is what you get from Himlabacken vol.1, apparently a concept of personal experiences. Extremely melodic to the point of misunderstanding, Himlabacken appears as a very genuine expression of feelings and talent but somehow lacks the extra punch to make it a truly great album, although it is not short of moments of greatness.

'Too Young to Say Goodbye', 'Red White Blues' and 'Diamonds' show what this band is capable of, balancing the melody with grandiose progressive rock structures. Obvious is the great influence that Queen (on the vocal melodies) and Kansas (on the keyboard parts) have had on Moon Safari, but they filter those through their own style, producing something new. The rest of the tracks are not bad but come with their ups and downs, some fairly simple ('My Little Man') or rather long for what they offer ('Mega Moon' and 'Sugar Band') and all come with an extra dose of sweetness (or cheesiness as many would call it).

Definitely not recommended for diabetics, Himlabacken is a very good album, which could have done better with more consistency in quality - still a highlight of 2013 and a great promise for future works. 3.5 stars.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars Moon Safari was one of those bands that often showed up in Amazon's lists of what other customers purchased. I gave them some sample listens but didn't click the order button until this album came out. I somehow felt without giving this much of a sample listen that this album was worth getting. I suspect it was the strong vocal harmonies which had also attracted me to Haken's "The Mountain".

So, 'Himlabacken' (whose Swedish title 'Heaven Hill' was not lost on me of Danish background) became my introduction to Moon Safari. I was very impressed early on as both 'Kids' and 'Mega Moon' won my favour for the beautiful vocal harmonies. Although 'Kids' is shorter, it builds in drama while the voices of the six musicians sing beautiful harmonies. 'Mega Moon' in contrast frequently changes pace and mood and combines traces of Queen and light pop with barbershop quartet and at times a little more hard rock prog. In between these is 'Too Young to Say Goodbye' which I also enjoyed but to a lesser extent.

There is no question about the high level of composition and performance on this album. I had expected something a bit like the Flower Kings because of the association between the two bands but Moon Safari certainly have cut their own path with this album.

'Diamonds' is the third track to really stand out and beg for repeat listens with its beautiful piano intro and strong melody. I picked out the lines about Sid Barrett during the first listen because I had only finished reading Mark Blake's book on Pink Floyd a few weeks earlier and I had read the same thing.

'I don't know if this is really true or not, but a friend told me Sid Barrett said, that the only way to be free is to lie still in your bed and there's no end to the possibilities.'

I find myself pleased to hear a lot of the instruments and musical passages on this album, but there was one thing that kind of nagged at me. Was the music too cheery? Was it too much like children's prog (especially "Sugar Band")? Then I read one reviewer's comment that this sounds like an album for a musical and I realized he was quite right. I could easily imagine people dancing and singing on a theatre stage to much of the music here. In fact, I introduced some of the music to a friend of mine who loves musicals and dance performances and she said it might just be the kind of album she can enjoy listening to. Wow! Prog for the ladies at last? (This last comment made with apologies to the ladies who already have embraced this genre of music)

I've read other reviewers say that the older albums are better, so perhaps I should check those out. But for now I still keep spinning three or four of the tracks on a regular basis. The musical talent and quality of the sounds on this CD make me want to give it a good rating.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I've been undecided regarding my feelings towards Himlabacken Vol.1 ever since hearing the album on Bandcamp around the time of its August 2013 release date. Since then I've seen Moon Safari perform a gig where they played four of the tracks off the record, purchased my copy of the album and played it from time to time over the last six months. Today I've finally come to a realization that made me feel ready to write down my thought on the endevour.

My initial reaction to Himlabacken Vol.1 was very positive and the album definitely felt like an obvious continuation of themes and styles that the band have coined on Lover's End. The music have continued to move away from Symphonic Prog, that was featured on [Blomljud], and into the realm om Crossover Prog. This doesn't mean that my affection for the band have diminished, on contrary! Ever since their debut album there have been strong tendencies towards the melodic and simpler approach to songwriting that sounded to me as if the band was undecided on which direction their music should take. Technical instrumental passages were often mixed with melodic and rhythmically accessible sections that, more often than not, sounded like a cut and paste job of someone with high ambitions at heart. This approach began to sway with the release of Lover's End in 2010. Compositions began to feel more to the point and the majority of the tracks were much shorter than anything that Moon Safari have been known for to this day.

Lover's End still had some very clear moments of Symphonic Prog with A Kid Called Panic being the prime example of the band wanting to sound more ambitious than what the remainder of the material made it out to be. The release of Himlabacken Vol.1 depicted a continued evolution of the music with even shorter compositions, with not a single track going past the 10 minute mark, and a slightly less technically tweaked sound. This by no means implies that Moon Safari have lost their charm on the progressive rock audience, but rather that their inspirations have shifted from Yes/Gentle Giant to Queen/10cc. The record features quite a few blissful art rock moments such as the anthem-like Too Young to Say Goodbye, playful Mega Moon and the joyful Diamonds.

The only real letdown, in terms of songwriting, comes right towards the end with Sugar Band. This 9 minute track made me hope for a grand progressive number but instead turned out to be a dull and sugar coated experience. Luckily, this one little misstep is far from a catastrophe and the rest of the album make up for this slight drop in quality. So why am I awarding this record a good, but non-essential rating instead of the much more deserving mark of excellence?

My feelings towards this release have always been somewhere on the fence, I do enjoy the album but don't consider it an essential masterpiece that should be heard by all fans of progressive rock music. I've come to the conclusion that Himlabacken Vol.1 is an adequate record for fans of Moon Safari's past endeavors that won't necessary bring them any more attention from the progressive rock community. Instead, I would much rather recommend this album to fans of art rock and melodic rock music. If you feel like you fit the profile then definitely give this record a try!

***** star songs: Too Young to Say Goodbye (6:28)

**** star songs: Kids (2:07) Mega Moon (8:21) Barfly (4:47) Red White Blues (5:08) My Little Man (2:55) Diamonds (6:42)

*** star songs: Sugar Band (9:33)

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Well, after so many fantastic new releases in 2013, I guess on ehad to be disappointing, even if just slightly disappointing. Please don´t get me wrong: Moon Safari´s most recently work is far from a weak album. The main problem is that, after producing two studio masterpieces and a terrific double live album in a row, you began to create maybe an unrealistic expectation towards this band. That´s the feeling I get.

Ok, the album starts very well with a short vocal dominated introduction (Kids) goind straight to the CD´s best track: Too Young To Say Goodbye. There´s nothing really new here, it sounds like an out take from their previous work, Lover´s End. But it also is a fine song and has the same freshness, high energy and joyful delivering the band was famous for, combining very well their outstanding instrumental musicanship with their absolute unique vocal style. From then on, though, it´s a slow decline. The songs begin to falter, being very well performed and sung, but lacking in inspiration. It seems the band is running out of ideas and repeating itself. Too much vocals and less instrumental passages. Some of the vocal parts are not as inspired either, looking like they were put there more to show off how technically skillful they are rather than to use it as a tool to enhance the melodies like before.

It´s hard to believe that tracks like My Little Man and Sugar Band are here. They are probably the weakest tracks I´ve heard from them since their debut. The latter being specially as cheese as the title implies. On the other side, the production is top notch and their performances as both vocalists and musicians are superb. The stuff can be inferior, but none is bad.

So in the end I found this record to be quite enjoyable despite its faults. Again maybe I was expeting too much. Perhaps they should have waited a little longer for their muse to come up with stronger tunes. Perhaps it´s both. Overall I liked it all, but simply there is nothing like a Lover´s End, nor A Kid Called Panic, much less an epic like The Other Half Of The Sky. Get my point?

Rating: 3,5 stars. Nice, very good, certainly above average. Yet, not the essential Moon Safari.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Yeah, another Moon Safari album and another which raises the bar even further. So much sugar can be heard there, that's true. I'll give you that. But the same as I can listen Prog Metal only sometimes (not in the mood, too tired at times), so is this music not for every occasson.

Melodies, harmonies - it flies around, graduating in each song. Changes in tempo, strong bridges ... one of those Proggy bands I can always sing along. Makes my night driving on highway so much energic (safer), as it keeps me awake. Because there is so much energy coming out of these progheads from Sweden. The best so far (and it's 2018 at the time of writing this review, so 5 years and nothing. Fortunately that long EP is a thrill.)

Latest members reviews

3 stars This is the first album of this band I listen to, the first thing I notice right away is that is happy, like veeery happy, like "yes" BUT 10x HAPPIER!!! Is this a bad thing? I would say no, it's just their style and I have to be in a specific mood to appreciate it, but it can put away some p ... (read more)

Report this review (#2696664) | Posted by koresea | Thursday, March 3, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I decided doing this review almost a year after listening for the first time and the first impression of the album didn't quite change. The main factor is the mood of the album. There is sugar? Yes. A lot. But a quite uplifting album is just what i wanted to listen at the time (after the dark ... (read more)

Report this review (#1206832) | Posted by joaolavelino | Monday, July 7, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm going to give a track by track account of this album, but some tracks will have much more detail than others. This is not to take away from the tracks that don't get as much attention here. This is an extremely solid album, and I love every song on it!!! KIDS... We are reminded a bit of Bl ... (read more)

Report this review (#1191571) | Posted by oddworld | Thursday, June 12, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If there's something here that amazes me, is the deep sense of melody those guys have - It is the kind of progressive rock i love: great melodies, pop sensibility and enough complexity without being exaggerating, perfect musicianship, and for Moon Safari, an ace in their sleeves - their vocals... ... (read more)

Report this review (#1115350) | Posted by Silent Knight | Friday, January 17, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Okay, let's start by getting the "tag" issue out of the way. Is this progressive rock? I would say "yes" but it doesn't matter what the genre is. Simply file under the category, great timeless music. If you feel the need to pigeon hole, then the line from "Sugar Band", "could it be that what ... (read more)

Report this review (#1067328) | Posted by Nrwhmr | Sunday, October 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm a fanboy! It's best to make that clear from the start. So I'm far from objective in my writing. This band has been on my top ten list since their second album [blomljud] hit the prog world with a bang in 2008. Their two latest efforts Lover's End and ep Lover's End Part III (Skellefteå Serenade) ... (read more)

Report this review (#1031443) | Posted by Tobbe J | Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Himlabacken Volume 1 is the fourth full length release from the Swedish Moon Safari and a continuation of the style heard on their 2010 release Lover's End. Long story short: if you liked that album, you can safely buy this one. Now for the long version. While Lover's End was a story about he ... (read more)

Report this review (#1028990) | Posted by Cheesecake | Wednesday, September 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Himlabacken Volym 1 was a record I looked forward to because Moon Safari is a band that has proved it's possible still in th 2000s to do marvelous prog with their record "Blomljud". I listened to this twice yesterday after seing them here in Stockholm the day before. They were good live but th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1026589) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I rarely review CDs to be honest, but after hearing this one I had to say something. I adore everything Moon safari has done, until now. Yeah, now?. I heard this album and just almost instantly felt not only had I heard it before but I had also heard it with more 'prog' (sorry, could not t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1026202) | Posted by transend79 | Saturday, August 31, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I can't imagine how this album would have been so successful and becoming a classic, had it appeared in the seventies, when progressive rock was the music heard everywhere. The albums of Moon Safari have the characteristic of being very well produced and magically composed so as to have a high ... (read more)

Report this review (#1025432) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Thursday, August 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Moon Safari, Himlabacken, Volume One (By Don Suhaka) When the Yes classics, "Close to the Edge,' "Tales...," "Relayer" and "Going for the One" came out in the early seventies, I was as giddy to get my hands on the new 'Yes' LPs as a kid at Christmas time. With my unexpected discovery of Moon S ... (read more)

Report this review (#1024492) | Posted by dhull | Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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