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GARGAMEL

Eclectic Prog • Norway


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Gargamel biography
Gargamel was formed in the spring of 2001 by Tom Uglebakken, Bjorn Viggo Andersen and Morten Tornes. Jon Edmund Hansen and Geir Tornes joined in the summer and they held their first concert in November of 2001. They proceeded to record two songs which they released as an cd-r EP in the autumn of 2002. In the atumn of 2002 the band recruited Leif Erlend Hjelmen on cello, and went on to record three more songs, which together formed the Watch for the umbles album.

The music has clear roots to the experimental and progressive rock from the period of 68-75, and has a sound that reflects this. The band takes you into the sombre, powerful prog-landscape, with melancholic moods and psychedelic atmospheres. Often taking unexpected turns, adding surrealistic and peculiar touches. Drenched in heavy hammond organs, gloomy mellotrons and jazzy el-piano; combined with classical instruments like cello, flute and saxophone.

The debut album entitled Watch for the umbles was released on swedish Transubstans records in february of 2006 and recived great reviews in the international prog press.

Gargamel has since 2002 gone thru some changes of members. Jon Edund quit in the autmn of 2002 before the extraordinary H&M gig. Bjorn Viggo left in the winter of 2003 to move abroad. Geir left in the summer of 2003 to work abroad. Leif Erlend left in the summer of 2004 to work abroad. Geir returned late 2004, and Arne Ton joined the band on keyboards at the same time. Then Geir left the band again in the spring of 2006 and was replaced by Stig Joran Rygg.

Gargamel has played at both OsloProg festival 2002 and 2005.

Here are a couple of quotes from reviews:

"We noticed elements from Van Der Graaf Generator, combined with krautrock; of the Amon Düül II type, together with loads of keyboards (rhodes, organ and analog synths) that added a sophisticated jazz touch." (Concert review in Tarkus magazine)

"My associations goes in the direction of Van Der Graaf Generator, early Eloy and some other german bands from the 70s." (Water EP review in Tarkus magazine)

Current lineup:
Tom Uglebakken: Guitar, vocals, flute and saxophone.
Morten Tornes: Drums, vocals, glockenspiel, theremin and synth.
Arne Ton: Keyboards.
Stig Joran Rygg: Bass guitar and bass pedals.

Former members:
Geir Tornes: Bass and bass pedals.
Bjorn Viggo Andersen: Keyboards.
Jon Edmund Hansen: Guitar and bass.
Leif Erlend Hjelmen: Cello.read more

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GARGAMEL discography


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GARGAMEL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.77 | 54 ratings
Watch For The Umbles
2006
3.90 | 62 ratings
Descending
2009

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GARGAMEL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Water
2002

GARGAMEL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Watch For The Umbles  by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.77 | 54 ratings

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Watch For The Umbles
Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This sinister album from Gargamel is retro-prog which doesn't sound very retro - perhaps because the most obvious classic-era prog touchstones the band draw on are mid-1970s Van der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, bands which sounded miles ahead of their time in their heyday. With sneering vocals which at points remind me of a less garishly theatrical Alice Cooper (circa Billion Dollar Babies) and brooding soundscapes which include plenty of modern influences (there's more than a touch of post-rock at points), Gargamel create an album which is at once true to its symphonic forebears and yet at the same time is very forward-thinking and advances the genre substantially. Despite the retro-prog tag, I'd say Gargamel are doing much, much more than simply pandering to nostalgia.

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 Watch For The Umbles  by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.77 | 54 ratings

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Watch For The Umbles
Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars Gargamel is a Norwegian modern Prog act with a vintage 1975 VDGG sound, complete with Hammill-alike vocals. The music is largely 'Symphonic', but it moves in diverse directions and can be 'Heavy' as well as 'Spacey' on occasion. So it's not a mere VDGG copy-cat. The vocals however are the weak link, being too indebted to Hammill's approach but without the melodic qualities or fervor of Hammill himself.

The instrumental 'Tics' is easily the highlight, starting with a dark organ sound that sounds more Hugh Banton then Banton sounds himself nowadays. The track continues through multiple sections with brilliant heavy-ish prog, with influences from VDGG, Anekdoten and Genesis. 'Strayed' opens strongly with a melancholic cello part that recalls the mood of Crimson's 'Islands'. The effect lasts till the atrocious vocals join. Really, trying to mimic Hammil if you haven't got the qualities to pull it off is sacrilege. This mainly instrumental track remains strong but the grating vocals largely spoil it. 'Below the Water' is even worse. 'Into the Cold' fares better due to being largely instrumental again. 'Agitated Mind' is an attempt at writing an epic. A failed one because it goes down entirely with the preposterous vocals. Really, why didn't anyone mute the volume level of the microphone.

This kind of album automatically makes me reach out for the real thing and unfortunately Gargamel doesn't come out well from the comparison. The music on this album is excellent but with a 'Hammill' in such poor shape, it doesn't touch anything released by VDGG. The next album has a distinct improvement in the vocal department and is much better by consequence. 2 stars, 4 if you can tune out the vocals.

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 Descending by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.90 | 62 ratings

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Descending
Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Gargamel is a Norwegian modern Prog act with a vintage 1975 VDGG sound, complete with Hammill-alike vocals. There is not much saxophone on it, but flutes, organs and mellotron more then make up for that.

They remind me of Sinkadus and Wobbler as well. Having the same combination of forceful vintage rocking Prog with that dreamy melancholic mood. In case of Gargamel the vocals are also not the greatest asset (too much of a Hammill copy, I prefer the real thing). On the other hand the vocals have largely improved compared to the band's debut, where the vocalist could hardly keep his pitch. There's plenty of room for instrumental passages, such as the spacey second half of "Descending". It's at those moments where the band really shines for me. "Prevail" has better vocals, followed by a long proggy instrumental middle section. It all builds up to a great finale. The stronghold is the 17 minute long "Labyrinth".

I wouldn't say Gargamel is as good as Wobbler, Sinkadus or Anglagard, but they get close on occasion and they are certainly talented. If you're a fan of named bands and also dig Hammill's vocals then you should definitely check out this album.

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 Descending by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.90 | 62 ratings

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Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by nandprogger

4 stars My first experience with the band GARGAMEL, impressive as it got assimilated content, which did not happen with my favorite prog bands. The sound here is full of retro prog: KING CRIMSON and VdGG, fully exploiting the most nostalgic sounds of his vintage synthesizers. In times of TFK, THE TANGENT and the like; GARGAMEL by surprise with so little to achieve what these others did not. The simplicity where the complex is shown in subtlety, the change of course all this can be likened to an extension of the albums of great prog bands of the '70s. The only fault I point that should be your excess resemble with them, which makes me not put all star. 4,5 stars

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 Descending by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.90 | 62 ratings

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Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Competent workout from Norwegian act Gargamel on this sophomore effort of theirs.

Those who fancy a slice of art rock with it's feet firmly placed in the early 70's should feel right at home with this effort. From the opening number and title track's Crimsonian touches on vintage symphonic space rock from the Eloy/Floydian school of compositions to the dramatic vocals Peter Hammil style, the references to the great acts of yesteryear are plentiful.

First and foremost to Van der Graaf Generator it seems, but also to the artists already mentioned, while the guitar and flute solo instrumental piece in the middle of second track Prevail the Sea should feel familiar to fans of Jethro Tull.

Vintage in sound and dark in mood, with an eclectic take on retro prog, this disc offers much to those who can't get enough of early 70's inspired ventures. Personally I felt that the tracks didn't quite manage to grasp me though, and the two long epics in particular felt too drawn out. This is a matter of personal taste though, and for others this album should be a true joy from start to finish.

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 Descending by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.90 | 62 ratings

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Descending
Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Second album from this Norwegian group and FWIW, second gem of ac retro-prog album. As much as I am careful with the initial enthusiasm that most retro-prog album evokes in me, I usually come down from my cloud fairly quick, but with Gargamel, I must say that the excitement lasts on quite a bit longer, mostly due to different influence or models taken. And just like the debut album, the group seems intent of playing up VdGG's aisles, with a twist of Crimson

Indeed, some of the most obvious VdGG moments come from Uglebakken's vocals, strongly inspired by Hammill's gutsy delivery, but the songwriting sometimes dares also a few Graaf- esque The group's vintage instruments is the standard one, including a guest cellist and two horn player, since Uglebakken also play sax and flutes. Just four tracks on this second album but two lengthy epics including the excellent and moody Prevail The Sea with the guests doing their bits to make it truly interesting: when the trumpet comes in, the drama is at its utmost; but the awe starts right from the opening power lines: you'd swear you're onto ITCOCK's lost track.

The short trap presents almost a burlesque face with its extremely bizarre time sig and presents a slight Gong/circus atmosphere with a Hackettian guitar and a closing Banks- ian 'tron line to die for. The other epic is the 18-minsLabyrinth, a much calmer and spacier track, but unfortunately its intro is marred by a Watcher Of The Sky sequence (double infamy it is repeated another time), but once the intro dealt, the track settles into a space void where the Theremin induces scary voids and Floydian guitars (circa Saucerful Echoes) evoke time warps, than a rising saxophone is paving the way for a wild instrumental feast where the organ is blasting its power, urging the guitars to spit out the venomous chords, until the whle thing drifts into chaos and then into oblivion

Gargamel's second album confirms their debut's success and the group is now solidly in the Scandinavian circle of great retro-prog bands and can look up Anglagard and Anekdoten from eyr-tu-eye.

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 Descending by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.90 | 62 ratings

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Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Crossover and E&O Teams

4 stars Interesting, but not so interesting at the same moment. When I hear this completely and by this I mean when I get myself to hear this at all, I'm pleased a lot. But their dark sound can be quite annoying for starters (and for others too, I'm not starter with Gargamel's music [hello Smurfs], but repeated listens aren't easy for me). But when you get used to it (will I ever?), it's great, dimly lit symphony like music made from long orchestratic passages. But OK, this music is quite recognizable.

4(+), as even their music is faithful continuing of 70's (favourite trend in modern prog, I don't have much prejudice against it), and presents us "their" sound, it can be boring a little bit. Repeating some motifs.

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 Descending by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.90 | 62 ratings

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Descending
Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you like VDGG and those vintage seventies sounds chances are you'll love this album. I'm pleased to see that this record is getting some praise on this site just like their debut "Watch For The Umbles" did. I was trying to decide which one I like better between the two, and honesty for me it's a toss up right now. If anything this one sounds even more like VDGG than the debut. In fact GARGAMEL sound more like VDGG than VDGG does lately (last two albums), and better as well. Mellotron, sax, flute, Hammond, Rhodes, clarinet and some guest trumpet, cello and trombone are all added into this dark mix with fantastic results.

"Descending" is dark with bass as reserved vocals join in. It kicks in around a minute and Hammill-like vocals follow. It settles again before 4 minutes and I like the relaxed guitar that follows. It's starting to build. Vocals are back before 7 minutes then it settles again. Building once again. Amazing track ! Gotta love the Hammond in this one. "Prevail The Sea" opens with blowing winds before a full and heavy sound arrives before a minute. It settles with sax and vocals. Trombone I think with flute after 5 minutes. The tempo picks up before 7 1/2 minutes and Hammill-like vocals come in a minute later as flute continues. I'm reminded of the band RITUAL before 9 1/2 minutes with those spoken words. The mellotron after 10 1/2 minutes kills. Powerful organ late then a trumpet solo after 12 minutes.

"Trap" opens with bass,drums and organ as the vocals join in. It picks up around 2 1/2 minutes. Nice guitar 4 minutes in before the tempo picks up once again. "Labyrinth" is the over 18 minute closer. It kicks in before a minute with a great sound. Vocals 3 minutes in. A calm 6 minutes in with some atmosphere. It turns experimental. Horns after 9 minutes as melolotron joins in. It kicks back in after 11 minutes. Piano too. Guitar a minute later then some incredible organ before 14 minutes as drums pound. Vocals are back after 15 1/2 minutes.

I hope this band gets lots of votes in the "Best of 2009" poll. This Norwegian band really deserves it. It's like a taste of seventies VDGG in 2009.

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 Descending by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.90 | 62 ratings

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Descending
Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This band released an excellent debut in 2006, and I was quite looking forward to listen to their new album.

Their dark and powerful music is still there, and when one listens to the title track, there is only one reference that comes to mind: the huge Van Der Graaf of course. Mighty, complex, yet charming for those who are deeply marked (I am one of them) with this rather special band. There is also some good old psychedelia added to this number, which even adds some more nostalgia.

This is an excellent opener.

The long "Prevail" has the same flavour: dark and heavy although some beautiful flute play does add some light touch to this rather powerful song. Again, the atmosphere of the great Graaf is fully present. Either this can be felt as irritating or welcome. I belong to the latter category. Another great song IMHHO.

The short (according "Gargamel" standards) "Trap" also holds its bunch of complexity, wildness and fantasy. All this combined makes it a quite enjoyable song as well. So far, this album is certainly on par with their debut and is quite a good confirmation of their talent.

If ever you are willing to listen to some "Watcher Of The Skies" riff, please do join for "Labyrinth". Maybe too much this time. Some more personality might have been welcome. The next couple of bands featured here are (in chronological order): VDGG (would you believe!) and Floyd (for a disjointed instrumental part à la "Saucerful Of Secrets").

If a band like "Araknamés" does appeal to you, there are lots of chances that you will be quite receptive to the dark music of "Gargamel". You'll have to be in for some "regressive" moments; but when the music is performed with so much skills (maybe not the vocals unfortunately), one can only applaud. I guess that this album will end up in the top ten of 2009.

It is only a pity that they almost don't tour. I would really like to go and see them live. Four stars for "Descending".

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 Descending by GARGAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.90 | 62 ratings

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Descending
Gargamel Eclectic Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Three years ago a young Norwegian outfit showed that not all Scandinavian Prog bands are keen on KING CRIMSON. Some of them are deeply into VDGG)

Now GARGAMEL strikes again. Nothing changed for these three years, their music is the same way dark, brooding, psychedelic and atmospheric. Sometimes claustrophobic and frightening, sometimes melancholic and frail, this album is a musical vertigo, a journey through Norwegian Death Valley with Gonzo and his lawyer. Hardly anyone's favourite, it can become your hidden treasure from a pile of 2009' releases. Someone may call them too depressive or monotonous, but these guys do have a strange sense of humour, and besides they're too jazzy to be monotonous. Get their debut too and be proud of becoming a Norwegian Prog Specialist ;) Highly recommended!

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