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Swifan Eolh & The Mudra Choir picture
Swifan Eolh & The Mudra Choir biography
Founded 2015 in Grenland, Norway

Tom Inge Andersen (bass) and Rune Seip Bjørnflaten (guitar, vocals) created the band with the goal to merge their two distinctive writing and composing styles. Drummer Jarle Alfsen soon joined in 2015. They recorded a promotional demo which resulted in a support gig for Gong in 2017. Female singer and dancer Synøve Jacobsen then joined to complete the band's core.

Early 2018 they signed a contract with the record label 'Apollon Records'. The debut album 'The Key' was executed by the whole band playing live in the studio, while later on overdubbing some vocals, guitars and keyboards. Lyrically seeking in esoteric traditions and arranged with vintage as well as contemporary approach the songs are covering diverse progressive rock styles.

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3.81 | 15 ratings
The Key

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 The Key by SWIFAN EOLH & THE MUDRA CHOIR album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.81 | 15 ratings

The Key
Swifan Eolh & The Mudra Choir Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars "The Key" is the debut album from Swifan Eolh & the Mudra Choir released early in 2019. The Eclectic Prog band from Norway consists of Synove Jacobsen on vocals, Tune Seip Bjornflaten on guitars and vocals, Tome INge Andersen on bass and bass pedals, and Jarie Alfsen on drums. There are also guests on the album that provide keyboards (organ, piano, Mellotron and synth). The music does lean on the eclectic side, but takes a lot of its sound from folk and Canterbury styles. To record this album, the entire band began by playing live in the studio. The original drums and bass were used on the album, but the vocals, guitars and keys were later overdubbed giving the album a somewhat live sound. The main ideas were already completed and the band played around those ideas.

The album starts with the longest track at 8 and a half minutes. "Wounded Dreamers" immediately utilizes complex structures in rhythm and guitars with nods to "Yes", but the vocals and melody lines are also complex, yet organic sounding, similar to a combination "Gentle Giant"/"Comus" sound. The male and female vocals also add to the complexity working in tandem and in counter melodies. The sounds do have an eclectic feel and even the vocals give a feeling of improvisation, but the fact that there are two singers at the same time proves that the music is built upon some structured idea, and that sound expands to the instruments. The guitar has the spotlight and is very reminiscent of Steve Howe in complexity. The music is very impressive with great complexity.

"Heart of Sadness" starts with a nice acoustic guitar solo that is very folk-ish feeling with a jazz sentiment. Vocals come in for a short time later in the middle of the track. "Spiders in the Old Café" has a heavier guitar sound with mellotron. There are dual vocalists again, singing separate at times and other times harmonized. Later, the sound is a bit lighter than on the first track, but still with all the complexity and often changing meters. There is a surprising electric guitar solo towards the middle of the track that shows how even the texture of the track changes a lot, but still flows really well. The use of dissonance in the vocals also remind you that this is more than just a prog folk band.

"Earth Shakes, Rattles n Rolls" uses both wordless vocals that imitate the instruments and their progressive riffs at the beginning. Things slow a bit and smooth out for a nice guitar solo with the mellotron backing it up. Lyrics start at 2 minutes, and there is definitely a Canturbury sound to this melody that keeps changing meter, tempo and style, which is what makes this eclectic. After a complex passage, we get a synth solo when the rhythm finally manages to smooth itself out. "Cantus" is a short atmospheric, yet melodic track.

"Tides are Turning" alternates between a complex riff followed by a contrasting 4 / 4 rhythm before the dual vocals come in singing together. As the track continues, this alternating complexity and simplicity expands and continues even incorporating the vocal melody. Later, an organ anchors everything together in a nice way. "Blessed be" is another short track featuring guest Gilli Smyth reading her poetry against an atmospheric background. "The Key" starts off with drums bringing in slightly funky riff and wordless vocals in harmonic jazz style. When the lyrics start, you get that odd harmony again. A nice lilting instrumental section comes in later. The jazz vocals return later with a counter melody sung at the same time.

I really like the positive energy this music seems to evoke, and the interesting complexity and the non-standard vocals. There is really a lot on here to get excited about as far as progressive music goes, and the way they incorporate both prog-folk styles and occasional jazz harmonics is quite awesome. This is one of those albums that might take some repeating to grow on some people, but I found it appealing enough from the beginning to want to hear it several times. I find it an excellent album, but not quite essential at this point, however, that might change in the future. I will be looking forward to future recordings from this band to see where they go from here.

 The Key by SWIFAN EOLH & THE MUDRA CHOIR album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.81 | 15 ratings

The Key
Swifan Eolh & The Mudra Choir Eclectic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars A singalong case, sooner or later. 'The Sun Is Always Burning' ... well, probably you've experienced this too, one may listen to an album, and after a minute lately you're quite sure that a particular song is going to be a hit (prog-wise). Now here we go! Wounded Dreamers marks a really fantastic entry into this affair. What helped me to stay in standby mode, being sure that they yet won't have fired all their ammunition at once. Lyrically seeking into spiritual attitude, traditions, the songs are based on ideas evolved by Rune Seip Bjørnflaten (guitar, vocals) and Tom Inge Andersen (bass). Drummer Jarle Alfsen is completing the rhythm section, Synøve Jacobsen furthermore will contribute some nice female vocals. That would be the staff which went into the studio in order to record the basics, while later overdubbing vocals, guitars, and finally the keyboards with support by two guest musicians.

Who will need a rough orientation beforehand, categories are difficult to place here. In the meanwhile I would say this comes canterbury drenched predominantly, somewhat Gong related. And yes, Gilli Smyth is aboard with a post mortem spoken words contribution. But what strikes in particular, you won't miss open minded approach, entertainment, creativeness, joy of playing. As noted before, they are coming in with strong momentum. The opener turns out to be a multi-varianted piece of work, offering a cornucopia of impressions. Bjørnflaten's varied guitar presence for example, partially Steve Howe inspired. Andersen's dynamic bass playing serves the fundament for a proper groove. Silky keyboards (rhodes, mellotron, organ), well thought out polyphonic vocal arrangements ... 'And The Moon Is Reflecting Its Lights'. Wow!

A different face then due to the acoustic guitar driven ballad Heart Of Sadness. And I also wanted to mention another example of skillfully presented vocals on Spiders In The Old Café, where Earth, Shakes, Rattles n Rolls sounds arranged with some Jethro Tull influences. Tides Are Turning is serving a special charming and relaxed mood. The circle closes by using The Key, provided with more psychedelic pop vibe and picking up some impressions from the opening song. Great job! Due to multiple facets given this album is recommended to a wide range of prog fans ... okay, except those who are die-hard metalheads maybe. I know, I'm using this as a mantra probably, but don't judge a production by its first or second spin solely, take your time. I effectively learned to like the entire album more and more.

Thanks to rivertree for the artist addition.

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