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SIMON SAYS

Symphonic Prog • Sweden


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Here's another gem from the amazing Mellotron-loaden Skandinavian progrock scene, this time a Swedish band including Mattias Jarlhed (percussion), Jonas Hallberg (guitar and backing vocals), Daniel Fäldt (lead - and backing vocals, sitar) and Stefan Renström (bass, keyboards, voices). Releases: album "Ceinwed" from '95 and "Paradise Square" from '02. Main influence: mid-GENESIS.

The second album is superior to their debut, in my opinion "Paradise Square" is one of the best releases from 2002! Most of the 7 songs are long, alternating and elaborate pieces with lots of surprising ideas: classical guitar and piano, a jazzy intermezzo, sensitive Spanish guitar or sitar and tablas. The 24-carat symphonic sound is very inspired by mid-GENESIS but has also echoes from ANGLAGARD (sumptuous Mellotron waves), SPOCK'S BEARD (shifting moods and fiery electric guitar), MARILLION (keyboards) and MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND (Minimoog flights with pitchbend). The vocals are at some momens a bit theatrical but in general strong and convincing. Funny self-mockery: SIMON SAYS has integrated some musical moments from GENESIS albums ("The Lamb..." and "Foxtrot") but the way they have done this, showcases the mature compositional skills. Recommended.

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
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Shut Your BreathShut Your Breath
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TardigradeTardigrade
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SIMON SAYS discography


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

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

3.33 | 31 ratings
Ceinwen
1995
3.67 | 67 ratings
Paradise Square
2002
4.05 | 176 ratings
Tardigrade
2008

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

SIMON SAYS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

4.19 | 12 ratings
Siren Songs
2011

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

SIMON SAYS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tardigrade by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 176 ratings

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Tardigrade
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Turgid symphonic retro-prog from Sweden, Simon Says' Tardigrade is a concept album telling some sort of oblique story about the titular character - though how often in retro-prog has the concept actually mattered much, or even made sense? Flashy guitars and keyboard and technical flourishes are piled on top of each other, but the album feels like it lacks a certain something. The musical partnership of Stefan Renstr'm and Daniel F'ldt would face constant delays in getting the trilogy of concept albums of which this is a part out into the wild, so if you liked the earlier two albums you may as well get this one, but for my part it doesn't quite stand out from the likes of Flower Kings, Spock's Beard or Karmakanic.

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 Paradise Square by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 67 ratings

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Paradise Square
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars I like a lot about Simon Says (I gave 5 stars to Tardigrade), except maybe the name. There is an adolescent-oriented American alternative band of same name that comes up more often in internet searches. The Swedish Simon Says are not exactly prolific, an on-again, off-again project releasing 3 albums over the course of 20 years. On Paradise Square they sound as a kind of stripped- down mid-period Genesis. Production sounds retro and sparse (but you can distinguish everything), a direct contrast with ultra- bombastic Yes-like Tardigrade. Songs are mostly very long, loosely structured and frankly some transitions feel like filler. Maybe this impression could be explained that the album is structured like a play, judging by linear notes. Fortunately, there are many moments I enjoy, such as the wah-wah and backward guitar intro to Paradise Square, jazzy playfulness of beginning to Striking Out a Single Note for Love, and, my favorite, the bit in White Glove where members trade off solos, including on sitar and tabla.

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 Paradise Square by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 67 ratings

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Paradise Square
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Things did not turn out very well for Simon Says after ''Ceinwen'' with Ola Johansson being sacked due to his arguments with Stefan Renstroem and Nils Stenstroem moving to Goethenburg.A new line-up was set up for a brief time by Daniel Faeldt, but in 1996 the band was put on ice, as Renstroem was not quite satisfied with the direction of the new core.He focused on his work with his other band, The Moor.Years later he decided to revive Simon Says and sent an mail to Faeldt, who had moved to India.Without any second thoughts Faeldt returned to Sweden and the new line-up included also The Moor's Jonas Hallberg and Ulf Nylen on guitar and drums respectively.As Nylen had a hard time to absorb Simon Says' material , he was replaced by Valinor's Tree's Mattias Jarlhed and the recordings of the new album were finished in 2001.Demo tapes were sent to Galileo Records and ''Paradise square'' saw the light the following year.

Simon Says did not abandon the long forms of Progressive Rock music and still produced stretched and interesting compositions, they did update though their sound a bit, moving somewhat from their old-fashioned GENESIS stylings for a more contemporary style, which still involved huge analog echoes on Mellotron and organ, delivered with a cleaner and more modern production.They were caught though in the trap of sounding extremely close to SPOCK'S BEARD and THE FLOWER KINGS, offering arrangements with alternating synth and Mellotron/organ textures, strong symphonic tendencies and some lighter poppy tunes.The material is still well-written with captivating melodies and professional executions, ranging from pretty dramatic themes with atmospheric instrumental passages to more optimistic and accesible tunes.Lots of bombastic keyboard parts, sudden shifts in tempos and a few jazzy vibes result a work, that has been written with intelligence and passion till' the last detail.Good and sometimes adventurous guitar parts with melodic and post-psychedelic leanings and an efficient rhythm section complete the picture of the group, that now seems influenced by a wider spectrum, including GENESIS, YES, KAIPA and FOCUS.However the resemblances with SPOCK'S BEARD''s or THE FLOWER KINGS' music get a bit disturbing in the process.

Rich and interesting Progressive Rock by a work, that could be seen as emblimatic regarding the style.Far from original, but very interesting with a few nice highlights like the great title-track.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Tardigrade by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 176 ratings

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Tardigrade
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by Progrussia

5 stars This is a differently-sounding beast from 2002's Paradise Square. It's all retro-prog, but while Paradise was retro in almost every aspect, Tardigrade is an example of prog with modern touches. This one is much more denser and bombastic, as if they suddenly got a hold on equipment from the future (if Paradise is more akin to mid-period Genesis, Tardigrade is closer to Yes) In fact, sometimes there is so much stuff going on that it borders on overkill. Keyboard variety is particularly notable, since as far as I understand neither of the guys is a keyboardist-first.

This is especially true of the two epics - opening 15-minute Suddenly the Rain (maybe just itsy- bitsy repetetive and Yes-inspired) and ending 26-minute Brother where you bound. The latter is one of my favorite epics because there is so much crammed in (no 3-minute spacey intros here, no sir) and yet it still flows naturally, going thru a plethora of crying lead guitar lines, folkish sections, some devilish piano, false endings etc.

But there's also so much variety on this album. Shorter rocker Tardigrade with its frenetic guitar licks and start-stop rhythms, folk-ish Circles End, mesmerising acoustic-electric duet Moon Mountain. Every song is distinct. Another distinctive feature are vocals. Unusual. Theatrical, accented and slightly nasally, yet somehow infectious.

I know that we reviewers must use 5 star ratings sparingly (and we use it here much too often - come one, do you really think this is an essential masterpiece and not just good?). But so much effort and diversity went into Tardigrade, that I don't hesitate here.

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 Tardigrade by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 176 ratings

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Tardigrade
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

4 stars A pretty long lasting record, but in this case, it wasn't too long. Tardigrade is the Swedish band's third and most recent record. It was released five years ago. I don't know if the band exists anymore but hope they'll come back with another record soon. This was an honest and interesting form of music. Perhaps they aren't very unique but they still act honest and sophisticated every minute of this record. It's not impossible I will raise it further, right now I just say you this is an excillent addition to any prog rock collection. It's uncommon to hold a prog rock record for a masterpiece after the first listening. Prog creves time and relistening. Here we got Daniel Fäldt on vocals, Magnus Paulsson on keyboards, Jonas Hallberg on guitar and percussion, Matti Jarlhed on drums and percussion and Stefan Renström on bass, keyboards and vocoder.

This album contains ten tracks, all of them are good, some of them are really good. The almost 15 minutes long starter "Suddenly the rain" is marvelous, it reminds me of a (Gabriel)Genesis song, now I can't remember which, and that feels awesome. It is not theft, just inspiration I guess. It starts exuberant and vital and the vocals are great. "Tardigrade" is a little poppier but very dymanic piece. "The chosen one" is calmer with pretty guitar work and it becomes faster later on. A great track. "Moon mountain" shows us guitar collaboration between the acoustic and the electric guitars, very nice result. "As the river runs" continues this symphonic excesses with excellent piano play as an example. "Your future" is a tranquil futuristic prayer and "Strawberry jam" shows how a progressive rock band interprets the concept "jam". In "Circle's End" I think the singer takes his task to another level when it becomes so varying. The last piece is short "Beautiful new day" praise the new day and hopes you will listen to this record again. The largest composition on this record is perhaps overwhelming the first time I listen to it. "Brother where' you bound?" begins directly, just like Genesis' "Supper's ready"(no other comparisons) and takes us on a symphonic journey. This is calm sometimes and fast sometimes. It feels right in many ways but I think it needs relistening.

This could have been even better if they tried more new things. Perhaps this is a tribute to for exemple Genesis and then it's a very good one, much better than some form of cover record. Simon Says shows us great symphonic music and also honest music, but they could have taken it to another record with some strange instruments and vocals in their native language(English is trite). But I will listen to this again, I promise and maybe I'll raise it to five stars. Right now I am proud to give it four.

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 Tardigrade by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 176 ratings

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Tardigrade
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars for sure

Third album of this discret band from Sweden from 2008 named Tardigrade is a great follow up of Paradise square. Another 6 years gone until Simon Says released a new album. To me this is better then previous work, the passages and the overall arrangements are more intresting and mature. Great musicianship as before with plenty of great interplays between musicians, specially the keyboards are fantastic here. Long album clocking around 75 min with long instrumental passages, well performed and played in a pure symphonic prog tradition. Suddenly The Rain and the longest track Brother Where You Bound who has over 25 min are the best from this album, beautiful passages quite complex but yet accesibele most of the time. Little better then previous works but again doesn't fully impress me as other symphonic prog works let's sat from thet period. fans of Spock's beard, Transatlantic, The Flower Kings can easely love this band. 3.5 stars.

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 Paradise Square by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 67 ratings

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Paradise Square
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Simon Says is a swedish symphonic prog act with 20 years career and only 3 albums released so far. I know this band since they release their second album from 2002 named paradise square. Between this album and their first one is 8 years, and almost no one guessed that they will come with a follow up mainly because some of the members from Simon Says were involved in another band named Valinor's Tree similar in musical style with this album. Now, if the music, the instrumental sections are pretty much ok most of the time, seams to me that the voice is little forced in places but not bad. This type of symphonic prog very muck in The Flowers King, Spock's Beard vein is ok , pleasent but is the kind of prog music that doesn't progress, something is missing in the over all sound. The passages are complex, intricate with nice moods and shift, the keyboards and guitars have an important role here, pieces like Paradise Square or White glove are perfect examples. I like the album but I can't give more then 3 stars. Good band , good album but nothing really is impressive here.

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 Siren Songs by SIMON SAYS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
4.19 | 12 ratings

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Siren Songs
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by Kiwi1

4 stars It is both fair and unfair to categorise 'Siren Songs' as a compilation album. Most tracks included are not available on any other album by Simon Says and those that do are either part of another compilation (the epic 'Minds of Mortal Men' & the Swedish language version of 'As the River Runs'. Nevertheless the album sounds like a gathering of bits 'n' pieces left off the band's concept albums, studio out-takes or individual 'demo' recordings rather than a cohesive self-contained album.. This is not to denigrate the music which demonstrates, once again, the band's virtuosic skills and capacity for beautiful, epic creations. The two piano solo tracks are particularly noteworthy as they reveal a high level of 'Modernist' compositional skill. If Genesis were still providing their distinctive form of accessible yet fully 'Progressive' music today I wonder if it would sound something like what Simon Says.

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 Tardigrade by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 176 ratings

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Tardigrade
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Back in 1995 I was sent two albums to review that had been released on a small Swedish label called Bishop Garden Records ? the first of these was 'Every Pixie Tells a Story' by The Moor, and the second 'Ceinwein' by Simon Says. Stefan Renström was the link between the two bands as he was the bassist for the former and was the leader of the second providing all of the music (originally Simon Says were going to be primarily a duo of Stefan and singer Daniel Fäldt). I gave the album a rave review, loving the mix of Seventies and Eighties prog and the way that it moved ? in fact I said "In my opinion 'Ceinwein' is one of the top albums to come out of Scandinavia this year".

So of course, in the parallel universe the band sold millions and became household names, but in this rather more boring reality they split up. Stefan stayed with The Moor, touring Europe, and then in 2001 he contacted Daniel saying that he wanted to get Simon Says going again. They quickly got a band together and recorded 'Paradise Square', which was released on Galileo Records in 2002 (which I haven't heard) but again the band was shelved. It is hard to find out information on the band and what has been going as neither of their websites have been updated in a number of years and that is a crying shame as this new album is nothing short of brilliant.

This is music that belongs in the Seventies, but it is very much of the present as well. Keyboards can be dominant, or just piano, guitars can be overpowering or non-existent. It has swathes of mellotron and Hackett/Howe guitars with wonderful vocals. Imagine Genesis and Yes moved in a time machine from thirty years ago to now, and then were allowed just enough time to hear what was going on and to get used to modern equipment and then thrown into a studio with Derek Shulman to record an album, and this is what you get. This is a prog lover's dream ? and every home should have this CD. What concerns me is that this band appear to have dropped off the radar again since this release and that is nothing short of criminal ? this is the sort of music that got me involved with the genre in the first place. Modern progheads need bands like these. www.progrockrecords.com

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 Tardigrade by SIMON SAYS album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 176 ratings

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Tardigrade
Simon Says Symphonic Prog

Review by Kiwi1

4 stars A passage in Macan's 'Rocking the Classics' compares the complex quality of Rick Wakeman's solo albums with those he contributed to as keyboardist for Yes. The former albums, Macan suggests, display Wakeman's impressive technical skills across a wide range of keyboards but ultimately, , "there is not much substance beneath the surface brilliance" with the music becoming a pastiche of ideas" which "are seldom developed and tend to run into one another rather haphazardly". By contrast, the albums of Yes carefully 'develop', 'rework' and 'vary' melodic themes to achieve an impressive 'intensity'. My initial listening to 'Tardigrade' left me to believe that 'Simon Says' were treading the same virtuosic but directionless path as Wakeman in his solo work. It seemed that the group had become more virtuosic and more confident in exploring different musical styles and ideas than in their previous albums and that they had acquired access to a truly monumental range of different instruments and studio gadgetry. Yet, was the music suffering through a desire to employ everything at their disposal regardless or not it contributed to its overall cohesion? After a few repeat listens to the album, however, I now realise that this first impression was a little unfair. Tardigrade, like the group's previous album, is a masterful example of Genesis inspired Progressive Rock and with its undoubted epic qualities provides a model to which so many other groups can only aspire. Ideas, to borrow Macan's words once again, are developed, reworked and varied: and listening to the album is a rewarding experience. Nevertheless, the nagging doubt remains that the musicians have become a little too obsessed with what the various buttons on their instruments and studio equipment can do rather than accepting that sometimes, in the pursuit of musical intensity, less is more.

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