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AFENGINN

RIO/Avant-Prog • Denmark


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Afenginn biography
AFENGINN are an adventurous Danish avant-garde klezmer band who formed in 2002. The name itself means "intoxication and strength" in Old Norse. They have a strong punk, Nordic folk and world music influence and since the release of "Akrobakkus", have taken on jazz influences as well. The group are categorised by the musical press as a "'bastard-ethno' band with Norse melancholy and cheerful madness" and they are not far off with this definition. AFENGINN feature a drummer/percussionist and a bass player but adopt the more common klezmer band instruments of clarinet, violin, mandolin and mandola. The strong bass rhythm on many of the compositions adds a more rock-oriented feel to the music and their unorthodox approach and time signatures make them appealing to not only progressive music fans, but also those who enjoy jazz and (ethnic and gypsy) folk music.

The main collaborator for AFENGINN is Finnish mandolin and mandola player Kim Nyberg, a student of Musicology at the University of Copenhagen, who brings in that Finnish feel to Afenginn's music. He is ably assisted by Rasmus Krøyer on clarinet (also studying Musicology at the University of Copenhagen, but also previously a student of Lee Morgan of the Royal Danish Orchestra), Niels Skovmand on violin (educated at The Royal Danish Academy of Music), Rune Kofoed on drums/percussion and Aske Jacoby on bass. They are influenced by such acts as KAIZERS ORCHESTRA, ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT, TOM WAITS, TIGER LILLIES and GOGOL BORDELLO and have performed alongside Frank London from the KLEZMATICS.

They released their debut album "Retrograd" (featuring many guest musicians) in 2004 to critical acclaim from the press, receiving many nominations and several awards including "Best World Album" at the 2005 Danish World Music Awards.

In 2006, they released their second album "Akrobakkus" which again proved to be a critical success, reaching the World Music charts in Europe in February 2007. Musically, it continues on from where "Retrograd" left off, with their usual stylistics and good humour. However, during the release party for "Akrobakkus", Andrzej Krejniuk (the original Polish-born bass player) decided to leave the band and a secret vote was taken to choose his replacement. Aske Jacoby was chosen as his successor and their sound has now taken on a more jazz-tinged direction.

In 2008, AFENGINN released their third album "Reptilica Polaris" which takes on a different style than thei...
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Buy AFENGINN Music


RetrogradRetrograd
TUTL 2011
Audio CD$9.99
$15.48 (used)
AkrobakkusAkrobakkus
CD Baby 2006
Audio CD$11.88
$12.77 (used)
LuxLux
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$11.90
$10.72 (used)
Reptilica PolarisReptilica Polaris
CD Baby 2008
Audio CD$11.91
$32.96 (used)
RetrogradRetrograd
CD Baby 2005
Audio CD$11.90
$10.72 (used)
Bastard EtnoBastard Etno
CD Baby 2010
Audio CD$11.89
$17.68 (used)
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AFENGINN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.03 | 8 ratings
Retrograd
2004
4.08 | 14 ratings
Akrobakkus
2006
3.94 | 5 ratings
Reptilica Polaris
2008
2.95 | 2 ratings
Bastard Etno
2009
3.96 | 4 ratings
Lux
2013

AFENGINN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

AFENGINN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

AFENGINN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

AFENGINN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Lux by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.96 | 4 ratings

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Lux
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars When I went over onto their Bandcamp site to see how they described their music themselves, I see that Danish group Afenginn call themselves 'world', 'ambient', 'contemporary', 'classical', 'folk' and 'Nordic' while PA list them as RIO/avant-prog. I actually think that there is a great deal of jazz in what they are doing and if I had to force them into a musical pigeonhole that is where I would put them. But, as you can see there is a lot going on and they don't really fit anywhere. The band themselves comprise Rasmus Kr'yer (clarinet, bass clarinet, contra bass clarinet), Niels Skovmand (violin), Kim Rafael Nyberg (mandolin), Erik Olevik (contrabass) and Rune Kofoed (drums, percussion) while they also have guests in Bent Clausen (marimba, vibraphone, waterphone, percussion), Mads Hyhne (trombone) and Nikolaj Busk who provides grand piano on 'Autumnus Elegia'. Kim Rafael Nyberg composed all of the music, which to my ears is somewhat strange as the mandolin rarely takes centre stage. I am also a little surprised that Bent is just a guest, as his marimba playing is key to the overall sound.

In many ways these guys come across as a highly orchestrated jazz group, with everyone knowing their part and playing it to the full. It is an album that is incredibly hard to describe as in many ways it is quite different to anything I have heard before, although Robin Taylor and possibly Frank Zappa did come to mind as potential influences (and give that Robin is also Danish and has been prolific over quite a long period I would think that this could be quite possible). Certainly, if you enjoy the more structured Robin Taylor's Universe then this could well be for you. This is something that one should definitely hear before listening, but luckily it is possible to do just that at their bandcamp site, so why not visit afenginn.bandcamp.com/album/lux and see if this is for you. I found it polished and intriguing and am certainly pleased that it came my way.

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 Akrobakkus by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.08 | 14 ratings

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Akrobakkus
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The second album from Afenginn really establishes their sound.

Afenginn is listed in PA as avant-garde/RIO. Which they truly are. Their sound and music is a mix of Balkan, Finnish, Faroe Islands and Scandinavian folk music + jazz. That and a great deal of cheerful insanity. This is music to laugh and party at. The soundtrack for a night out in the midnight sun at a campfire while eaten by midges and drinking too much locally produced 80 % proof moonshine. So yes, this is party music and Afenginn has toured Scandinavia with this music. Let me add; with great success.

There are some interesting details in the music too which means it can be enjoyed in peace and quiet too. Played live, I may appreciate the music more though. Any chance for a live album, guys ?

The music here is good throughout without really firing me up to the great joys. My gripe with this album is the lack of some really signature, killer tracks. It kinds of get to the point when I find the music too familiar and not exciting enough. But this is still a good album, well worth checking out.

3 stars

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 Bastard Etno by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.95 | 2 ratings

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Bastard Etno
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Bastard Etno is the 4th full-length studio album by Danish avant garde/ ethnic folk music act Afenginn. The album was released in November 2009 on TUTL in Denmark and in january 2010 on Westpark Music in the rest of the world. The album contains both new tracks and re-recorded tracks from the bandīs first three studio albums.

The title of the album pretty much says everything about the musical content. The style of music on the album is a mix of several ethnic traditional styles, classical chamber music and a touch of avant garde. Traditional styles of the Balkan and the melancholi of Scandinavian folk are represented here in loads. The instrumentation on the album include Klarinettes, Violin, Mandolin, Mandocello, bass, drums and percussion. This means that the sound on the album is very organic and warm. A very pleasant sound. The band vary their style and there are both fast played parts and more subtle melancholic parts on the album. The album is fully instrumental save for a few shouts here and there.

Compared to the last album Reptilica Polaris (2008) which hosted a grand choir, this album is a much more down to earth experience, but that also means that itīs not as original as its predecessor. Thatīs a bit of a shame IMO. With all the re-recorded versions of older tracks Bastard Etno works a bit like a best of compilation and less like an original studio album, and while the re-recorded versions certainly are enjoyable I would have preferred completely new tracks. Still Bastard Etno is a quality release and while Iīm not as excited about the album as I was about the two predecessors a 3.5 star rating is fully deserved. When the album is best a 4 star rating would have been more fair.

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 Reptilica Polaris by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.94 | 5 ratings

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Reptilica Polaris
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars An album from Afenginn........ what can I say ?

This band is operating on the weirdo side of the Avant-Garde genre. Weird in the form of their sound and music. The cover art-work really says it all. A frog taking a ride on the top of a whale. I cannot stop smiling.

The music......

Afenginn has a morbid fascination for the 1970s and the male Russian choirs from that time. The ones we in Scandinavia was force fed on by our TV/Radio companies during that time by some broadcasters with dubious political orientations. This whole album reeks 1975, in my opinion. Take the Russian male choirs and add some chamber orchestra to it. Then make them perform a blend of folk music from Balkan and Scandinavia with some country & western, gypsy music, jazz, chamber music and normal choir music too. In other words; a contradiction tapped onto a record.

The strange thing is that Reptilica Polaris actually works well on all levels. It has an x-factor which makes me listen to this album over and over again for reasons I do not know. Maybe it is the zeuhl like rhythms. Maybe it is the woodwinds. Maybe it is the male choir. Maybe it is the songs. But I really like this album a lot and I recognize it for what it is; a great musical experience. Hence my four stars.

4 stars

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 Retrograd by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.03 | 8 ratings

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Retrograd
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The debut album from Afenginn signals the advent of something very strange coming our way.

Afenginn has been described as an etno band. Indeed they are. But what etno ? On this album, you find influences from most cultures in Europe. The Balkan folk music scene included. But the main culture is the Scandinavian folk music culture. The music can be compared as a mix of Flairck, jazz and some oddball Scandinavian folk music.

I think their true story about this elk who swam to Denmark from Sweden, applied for political asylum and then robbed the apple farmers for a year full of harvest before this very happy and well fed political asylum seeking elk was hit by a train and died. I just mention this story to illustrate the happy cheerful madness in Afenginn's music. All kinds of woodwind instruments are liberally scattered around this music and mostly also used as solo-instruments. The bass is hanging in there too. Various cymbals and sound making hardware from the kitchen is used as drums. In short, this album is cheerful madness.

The quality is good throughout though. There is nothing here I do not like. This album is not their best album by any means. But it is still something worth checking out. I happens to like it.

3 stars

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 Reptilica Polaris by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.94 | 5 ratings

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Reptilica Polaris
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Reptilica Polaris is the third full length studio album from Danish avant garde act Afenginn. From the first notes itīs unmistakably Afenginn youīre listening to, but keep listening and youīll soon be surprised, because Afenginn has incorporated a new and very different element into their sound on Reptilica Polaris which means that it stands out from their first two albums Retrograd from 2004 and Akrobakkus from 2006.

Retrograd was a crazy bastard of an album. Strange and mostly uptempo avant garde songs with both ethnic Scandinavian and Balkan folk elements. Youīll also find jazz and classical chamber music elements on that album. Itīs almost fully intrumental. Akrobakkus holds the same elements but adds a melancholic and beautiful touch to Afenginnīs music. Iīm very fond of both of those albums. The intrumentation is very organic. Intruments like clarinet, Violin, mandolin, mandocello and various sort of percussion are very prominant in the soundscape.

The new element Afenginn adds to their sound on Reptilica Polaris is a big choir. Itīs a significant change to their sound but what a powerful and sometimes symphonic element. Reptilica Polaris is a concept album and all songs seque into each other and form a long suite. The choir also means that there are actual lyrics on the album. The lyrics are a hilarious mix of latin and Danish ( maybe a bit of English too) and showcase Afenginnīs great humour. The music is mostly melancholic ( which is a strange contrast to the hilarious lyrics), but the uptempo folky balkan parts still appear in songs like Iguana Segregatis and Massacre Gnu allthough they are not as dominant a part of Afenginnīs music as they used to be. Another new feature in Afenginnīs music appears in Hosianna Reinkarnator which for the first time as far as I can remember has ordinary drums.

Thereīs a change to the lineup compared to the lineup on Akrobakkus from 2006 as bassist Andrzej Krejniuk has left Afenginn. He is replaced by Aske Jacoby on Reptilica Polaris. Aske Jacoby is one of the most prolific session musicians in Denmark. He has played with bands like News, C.V. Jørgensen, Sanne Salomonsen, Thomas Helmig, Kasper Winding and Danseorkesteret ( all famous Danish artists). According to his wiki page he has participated on more than two houndred albums since 1979. He usually plays guitar but he plays bass on Reptilica Polaris. The rest of the musicians are outstanding too. Composer Kim Nyberg needs to be given a special mention for his excellent compositional skills.

The production is beautiful and organic. One of the better productions Iīve heard in a while.

I have to mention the beautiful cover artwork on Reptilica Polaris too. A strange picture of a reptile riding a whale says a lot about the humour on this album, but the deep blue colours also tell you about the melancholic side of the music. Seldom has a cover been more suiting IMO.

Reptilica Polaris is an excellent album. This is not hard to access avant garde with strange dissonant sounds and weird time signatures. Reptilica Polaris is actually a pretty melodic album and even though itīs very challenging I think itīs fairly easy to access. This is a well deserved BIG 4 star rating. Challenge yourself with something unusual and give Reptilica Polaris a chance. It certainly deserves the attention. We can expect even greater things from Afenginn in the future.

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 Akrobakkus by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.08 | 14 ratings

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Akrobakkus
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Akrobakkus is the second studio album from Danish act Afenginn. Afenginn is a weird bunch and their music is a mix of genres like avant garde rock, ethnic balkan and Scandinavian folk, jazz ( the kind thatīs played in old silent movies) and chamber music. Add lots of humour and you have yourself a pretty unique cocktail. I reviewed Afenginnīs debut album Retrograd a couple of weeks ago and I was pretty impressed and thought it was a great album but I wasnīt really sure if I found it excellent. It lacked some variation IMO. Akrobakkus has just that and itīs a very dynamic album with both crazy up-tempo tracks and more calm beautiful chamber music influenced songs.

Songs like Ralli I D-Mol and Terror Humppa are really up-tempo and fun songs while my favorite the beautiful and moving Fotonen and Valse Melankolika shows the softer side of Akrobakkus to great effect. This is not your average avant garde rock band with strange time signatures and dissonant sounds. The music is very melodic and memorable. Itīs still very challenging though and it took my a couple of listens to appreciate. The music is mostly instrumental but there are a few choir parts where various members of the band shout and make noises.

The musicianship is excellent. The five musicians play instruments like mandolin, mandocello, harmonium, clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, violin, viola, bass and drums and most sing choir too. The music has a very organic sound as a result of the choice of instruments.

The production is wonderful. The emphasis is on an organic sound and every instrument is right in the mix.

Akrobakkus has really captured my attention and Iīll definitely give Retrograd another spin to see if itīs grown on me since the last time I listened to it. If you like music with a happy mood but with time for more serious moments as well Akrobakkus could be your thing. I think itīs highly recommendable and unique. It certainly deserves all the 4 stars Iīll rate it.

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 Retrograd by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.03 | 8 ratings

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Retrograd
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Retrograd is the debut album from Danish avant garde/ folky act Afenginn. Afenginn is a five piece band that uses instruments like Mandolin, Mandola, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Violin, Electric and acoustic basses, drums, percussion and Xylophone in their music. The lack of guitar and keyboards in the music gives Afenginn a very organic sound. In addition to the above mentioned instruments that the five members play there are also a wide cast of guest musicians on the album that play instruments like accordian, Trumpet, Flugelhorn, euphonium, tuba, tuba, Viola, Cello, skraldofen, flexitone and Wooden Flute.

The music is unlike anything else I have heard on PA. It sometimes reminds me of the music you hear in silent movies and sometimes itīs more like classical chamber music, jazz or balkan and Scandinavian influenced ethnic folk. What binds it all together is the great humour in the band which is displayed when they present their songs in the sleeve notes. There are some really funny stories connected to each song. For instance the story about the moose that swam from Sweden to Denmark in 1999 and created quite a stir in Denmark before being hit by a train which is the story behind the connected three songs: track 12, 13 and 14. The last suite ( track 14) is called Dødstoget ( Death train).

The musicianship is absolutely excellent. The dynamics are very pleasant and we are treated with both beautiful quiet passages and more bombastic and loud parts. What makes this album so great is the obvious playfulness that is displayed in every song and the joy of playing music which is also very evident.

The production is very good and professional. Iīm sure everyone that listens to this album will envy this great production.

Retrograd is a truly progressive avant garde album in every sense of the word and I really hope it reaches itīs right audience. For me personally this isnīt my favorite style and even though I would love to give Retrograd a 4 star rating Iīm not feeling convinced that itīs the right thing to do, so for now Iīll give the album 3 big stars and promise that I will return to the album again in the future to see if it has grown enough on me to deserve a 4 star rating.

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 Akrobakkus by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.08 | 14 ratings

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Akrobakkus
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Moatilliatta
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is just a big ball of fun! Afenginn's sophomore release finds the band doing their thing more or less like before, but a bit more mature. Their crazy brand of avant-ethno-folk-rock is one that should be heard by everyone. It's a little weird, but an open mind will enjoy this with no problems. The music is catchy, melodic, complex and original.

It's almost impossible to not love this album. Besides being technically dazzling, it is sheer fun. Imagine a quirkier, faster, lighter, more jovial Alamaailman Vasarat, and you might have the right approach to this group. They use a lot of different instruments (all of which are acoustic), so the sound is always changing and fresh throughout the disc.

While both Afenginn albums are brilliant, this one is a bit more mature and memorable than its predecessor. It also has more variety and isn't as long. I don't think this group's style can sustain a length of over 45 minutes without risking loss of interest on the listener's end. This one is pretty susinct and maintains my full attention start to finish. Anybody who's adventurous to any degree should listen to Afenginn. For those unfamiliar, this would be the place to start.

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Thanks to James for the artist addition.

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