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SIMON STEENSLAND

RIO/Avant-Prog • Sweden


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Simon Steensland biography
Simon Steensland is a Swedish composer and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, though he started as a drummer at the age of 17. He releases both solo albums as well as composing for theater. His first solo release was in 1993, The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble, which he then followed up on with more albums, each of which had several usual musicians playing: drummer Morgan Agren and keyboards/piano player Mats Oberg. The music was said to combine elements of jazz, neo-classical, rock and folk with a wide variety of instruments and to be influenced by Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Present etc.


=Assaf Vestin==


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SIMON STEENSLAND discography


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

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

3.86 | 7 ratings
The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble
1993
3.89 | 19 ratings
The Zombie Hunter
1995
2.33 | 8 ratings
Under Oknar (with Sten Sandell)
1997
3.88 | 13 ratings
Led Circus
1999
2.37 | 8 ratings
The Phantom of the Theatre
2002
4.12 | 28 ratings
Fat Again
2009
3.85 | 55 ratings
A Farewell To Brains
2015
3.83 | 24 ratings
J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira
2020

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

3.13 | 4 ratings
Kamikaze United: Live Gang-Gang
2004

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

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

3.83 | 6 ratings
25 Years Minimum R&B
2017

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

SIMON STEENSLAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.83 | 24 ratings

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J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars Complicated, dissonant, and non-straightforward sound structural reform should get to be a unified temptation with enough fermentation and maturation. We are definitely in trouble with what we say for this creation, but it's obvious this album is splendid. "Oscillospira" released in 2020 is one of the most listener-friendly albums, let me say. Such a quite colourful, diverse melodic / rhythmic world created by JG THIRLWELL and Simon STEENSLAND would catch our heart completely, not catchy nor easy to digest though. Difficult to find what is the acceptable element, but their soundscape like water flowing should be important. Every single track is a bit long but it's kinda fascination we cannot feel the length itself via this album. Their brilliant performance full of unification should be the key morphological point.

From the beginning of the first shot "Catholic Deceit" we are drenched in smooth but hypertensive sound material. Impressive, innovative is the horn-section-originated hard-edged sound steppin'. It's pretty emergent and energetic. The opening gives us a suggestion where to go, but we MUST get deceived soon. Please touch the following "Heron" flooded with crazy avantgarde chamber vibes combined with metallic havoc, and get driven into madness. "Night Shift" is sorta combination of heaviness, darkness, and quietness. Strong impression through wind-instrument- oriented jazzy, deep structure in the former part gradually shifts dark but dreamy quietness ... this modification is enjoyable. "Papal Stain" has more unstable but gorgeous, beautiful psychedelia seasoned with synthesizer-based starshine sounds and excessively dignified lines that remind us of the similarity to King Crimson. "Heresy Flank" featuring JG's lyrical voices and Simon's percussive sound creatures is theatrical and dramatic. Wondering always why they can play such a tough movement in a precise manner, and no suspicion we are immersed in this precision by them. In "Mare" bright but weird strain atmosphere is standing face to face with explosive sound dissection. What a tension. "Crystal Night" is produced with twisted violin sounds and irregular but supportive synthesizer background. Quite tingling sensation it launches, regardless of the shortest one in this album. The last "Redbug" filled with kaleidoscopic melodic development like "they are putting upon their last spurt, to be all over" can be very suitable for the epilogue of this artistic opus.

We can feel apparent temptation via this stuff. A long and great journey.

 J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.83 | 24 ratings

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J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kurtrongey

4 stars A stretch of foreboding instrumental prog with a flood of sludgy, Lovecraftian grooves. If you like that dark-for-dark's- sake early Univers Zero feel, this will be a comfy bed to curl up in. Demonic bass lines, macabre counterpoint, wordless soprano in long note values, and the occasional arcane whisper. You get the idea. For the first half of the album I admittedly found myself a little jaded with some of the more predictable conventions of the style and a couple of repetitive riff stretches that didn't quite bear fruit. Then about half way through, deeper atmospheres settled in, with the interesting instrumental detail and crisp snare drum work in "Heresy Flank," the more subdued "Mare," and the emotive violin of "Crystal Night." Make no mistake thought - they're really good at this.
 A Farewell To Brains by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.85 | 55 ratings

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A Farewell To Brains
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. I hope Simon is making albums for many years to come because the man really is a treasure. I love his humour and of course his music which is dark, experimental and zeuhlish. Lots of guests helping out including drummer extraordinaire Morgan Agren and bass monster Guy Segers. I would rate this album right up there with "Led Circus" and "Fat Again".

The album opens and closes with 17 minute suites. First up is "Schrodinger's Cat" which begins with a nod to MAGMA before it settles into a groove with fuzzed out bass. It settles back with accordion but kicks back in quickly. The guitar is crying out after 2 1/2 minutes. It settles again before 4 minutes into a zeuhl mode before settling right down again 5 1/2 minutes in and again MAGMA comes to mind. A dissonant horn comes in around 7 1/2 minutes in a relaxed manner. It settles down again 10 1/2 minutes in with accordion and atmosphere. More dissonant horn then it picks up before 14 minutes and again it's zeuhlish before ending in an avant manner with droning. "Elephant" is a short piece of just under 2 1/2 minutes with fuzzed out bass, piano, drums and more.

"One" opens with a slow paced, dirge-like way with these female vocal melodies that are avant sounding, I really like them. They stop then it lightens after 2 minutes. I really enjoy the different sounds here as it plays out. A change after 4 minutes as it seems darker until around 6 1/2 minutes when accordion and interesting sounds take over. I love the melancholic synths after 8 minutes. It's building before 10 minutes with a zeuhlish flavour including chanting. Piano only after 10 1/2 minutes then it picks up a minute later.

"Fader Var" is the only song I'm not into with those female vocals and piano standing out. It's only 3 minutes in length though. "The Idiot" is sparse with female vocals sounds and piano then it turns fuller before a minute with bass clarinet, vocal melodies and more. We start to get this pulsating rhythm with fuzzed out bass then the tempo picks up before 3 minutes then it turns heavier. A calm after 4 minutes then it starts to pick up 7 minutes in. This sounds really good. Vocal melodies a minute later and I love that fuzzed out bass. A calm before 11 minutes and this is dark and kind of creepy with spoken male words. Experimental stuff.

Another incredible album from this crazy Swede that might be his most zeuhlish recording to date.

 A Farewell To Brains by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.85 | 55 ratings

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A Farewell To Brains
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Swedish composer and musician Simon STEENSLAND is a veteran creator of music in the progressive circuit. He released his debut album back in 1993, and has released new albums on a fairly regular basis in the years that have passed since then. "A Farewell to Brains" is his seventh studio production, and was issued through Altrock Records in 2015.

A stellar cast of musicians sees to it that Steensland's visions, that at least from a musical point of view are firmly placed on the dark and gloomy side of things, are brought to full life in a mesmerizing manner on "A Farewell to Brains". A visionary production with material rather unlike much else you'll encounter, most certainly residing within the more challenging corners of the avant-garde progressive rock universe, a transfixing journey into realms rarely explored by others. Highly recommended, especially to those with a taste for music firmly placed on the dark and eerie side of life.

 Kamikaze United: Live Gang-Gang by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Live, 2004
3.13 | 4 ratings

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Kamikaze United: Live Gang-Gang
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Simon Steensland's Kamikaze United is the name of the live band that Steensland assembled to actually perform some of the music he had created over the last ten plus years. It features a lot of his regular cast of collaborators, including as ever Morgan Agren (of Mats/Morgan) on drums.

Included on this album is at least one track from almost all of Simon's previous albums, including his collaboration with Sten Sandell (Ganggang) and the album of his theater pieces (Kaspar's Theme). From Led Circus we have The Return of Instant Jesus, which has been shortened by removing the vocal part. This reduces the weirdness a bit and makes the track a bit more accessible, and it works rather well (although I do still tend to prefer the Led Circus version). The stellar opening Track, Parade, hails from The Zombie Hunter. Interestingly, the only album that does not have a track featured here is his debut, The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble.

What is fascinating is that everything beyond those four tracks have not been featured on any of Simon's other albums, so for a fan of Simons music, there is more interest here than just seeing if he could pull off the music live.

Fans of rhythm sections will love this music, because it is very rhythmic and hypnotic. The crux of the band (to me at least) really is Simon on bass and Morgan on the drums. As with Zeuhl, there is a certain amount of repetition to the rhythms. The overall feel of the album is propulsive and challenging, and it's easy just to get lost in the layers built on top of the dominant rhythm sections. The energy is high and the band are all in top notch shape. Even the guests give stellar performances; take Pelle's trumpet part at the end of "Parade" as an example of this.

A great live album of one of the music worlds great, under-sung artists, showing now only that he and his bands have the chops to perform the music, but that there is a great passion behind them as well. The only complaint I do have is that the set list does not make use of much of Simons tracks with vocals, possibly due to the difficulty of finding a singer or of performing these tracks live.

 Under Oknar  (with Sten Sandell) by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.33 | 8 ratings

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Under Oknar (with Sten Sandell)
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This album is a collaborative album by Simon Steensland and Sten Sandell. Simon Steensland is a Swedish avant-garde artist who had already released several albums prior to this (although this is the earliest I've heard from him thus far); I can't claim to know much about Sten.

It is wrong to say that this is a Simon Steensland album with Sten Sandell guesting, or vice versa; although both were involved in the playing and/or writing of most tracks, there is at least one track each that is written and played by only one of these artists. Also playing on this album are Morgan Agren and Mats Oberg of Mats/Morgan.

Musically, this is an interesting album, but uneven. It starts off strong, the first two tracks (Song and Wrong) featuring the distinctive sound of Simons bass creating the rhythms, which Sten does some rather interesting wordless vocal work over. These two tracks definitely emphasize the vocal work more than the other instruments, but the vocals are interesting enough to deserves the center stage. (They do return later on in the album too, but to my ears these are the best instances of his vocal work here).

For me, nothing else on the album is quite as interesting or accessible as the first two tracks, which is a shame. The music is enjoyable, great sonic textures and playing, but at times it can sit on the repetitive side of things. This is definitely music that warrants several listens for the various textures to have time to sink in. And they are definitely the leading elements here.

To get the most out of this album, you must truly listen to it - leaving it playing in the background will cause you to miss a lot of the details that make the music interesting. Each note is carefully placed to build the mood and atmosphere of the music. Unfortunately, towards the end (around "7/8 + 3/4"), the album starts to drag. Still, there's lots to enjoy, especially for fans of Simons music, for his fingerprints are all over. Although it is also the least "immediate" of his works I have heard thus far.

 The Phantom of the Theatre by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.37 | 8 ratings

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The Phantom of the Theatre
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Even for fans of Simon Steenslands other albums, this album is a bit of an odd bird. It's not exactly a studio album, for the music contained on this disc was not written to be released as part of an album. Instead, the tracks here are collected as a representation of what Simon writes when he writes music for theater.

If you've heard any of Simon Steenslands other albums, you probably know that he tends to write music that is rather odd. Of course, he is listed under RIO/Avant so such is probably expected - but in reality, the stuff he is involved with are far from anything else I have heard to date. He is apparently all self taught both in playing and composing, and I think he is an artist where having an approach to music that he came up with on his own has really worked well.

Although this music is intended for the stage and is in many cases utilitarian - as he explains in the liner notes, some of the music is written to be played while the cast changes the set, etc. - there is still some really interesting things in here. They never quite go as far as his pure studio albums in terms of interestingness, and in terms of memorable moments I find a lot less contained on here. Still, the variety of sounds enclosed on here (even if some are far too short to really develop very far, with only 14 of the 36 tracks contained surpassing the 2 minute mark) does yield some interesting pieces.

You do have to read along with the liner notes to understand what was happening when the music was playing though. As I have said, Simon's approach to music is quite unique and so there is very little that fits into the conventions one might expect from music that is intended to evoke specific emotions. The sad music, for example, would probably never be heard in Hollywood (for anything really).

Ultimately, the album does suffer from the mix of different music that appears on it. There really is very little cohesiveness to it; even music that comes from the same play, is often split apart on the album. Interesting themes often rely on fade outs instead of closing in more interesting ways. These weaknesses do bring down the value of this collection a decent amount.

This collection should be interesting to you if you are a fan of the man (as I am) or simply want to hear some unorthodox theatre music.

 Led Circus by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.88 | 13 ratings

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Led Circus
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm really surprised no one has reviewed this yet.This is one of Simon Steensland's best albums. As usual we get that dark intense music that is inspired by UNIVERS ZERO, MAGMA, PRESENT and ART ZOYD. A lot of instruments are used here, too many to list but of note is the harmonium, cello, sax, accordion and marimba but there is much much more. By the way Simon can and does play pretty much every instument there is but he does get lots of help here most notably from the MATS / MORGAN duo who are two of the most incredible musicians i've ever heard on keyboards and drums respectively. Some will know Mats Gustafsson on sax too.

"Instant Jesus" is the over 16 minute opener and the most difficult for me to get into. It opens with lots of marimba, drums and other sounds before these drugged out sounding vocals join in. A calm 2 minutes in with quiet vocals and darkness. Cello and other sounds arrive as it all gets louder including the vocals which get a little crazy. It all kicks in at 3 1/2 minutes. Check out the dissonant sax 5 1/2 minutes in followed by a keyboard solo then some yelling and carrying on a minute later. Intense and dark. It settles before 7 1/2 minutes with accordion and it's still hauntingly dark. It kicks in again then it settles before 9 1/2 minutes. It kicks in hard at 14 minutes. Check out the drumming ! Guitar late. Amazing track. "Pinving" is melancholic and dark with harmonium, cello and accordion standing out. It picks up 4 minutes in with some killer guitar and pounding drums. Insane. "The Song Of The 4th Monkey" opens with marimba, accordion and other sounds. It picks up quickly with chunky bass. It settles back 1 1/2 minutes in. Check out the dissonant harmonica solo after 2 1/2 minutes. I don't think i've ever said that before. This is great !

"The Dance Itself" hits the ground running with a heavy rhythm and lots of guitar. A creepy calm follows. "Psychlone" is UNIVERS ZERO-like with the intricate sounds and dark mood. Distorted guitar comes ripping in and check out the drum work. It starts to settle down 2 minutes in then kicks back in after 4 minutes. What an intense track. "Angels Without Eyes" is kind of haunting as eerie female vocal melodies join in.The electric guitar before 3 minutes is cool then the vocal melodies continue. "Dwarf Suite" is the 18 minute closer. What an intro ! It settles in and it's dark.The drums and marimba become prominant. It eases up before 3 minutes but not for long. A calm before 5 minutes with accordion. A change after 6 minutes and the intensity is building before 8 minutes. It settles 9 1/2 minutes in to a haunting soundscape. Accordion and marimba before 12 minutes. Drums a minute later. Cello before 14 minutes then it picks up a minute later. It eases up with deep bass sounds before 17 minutes.

Well if you like PRESENT or UNIVERS ZERO you probably will love this album. Easily 4.5 stars.

 Fat Again by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.12 | 28 ratings

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Fat Again
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Overview

Fat Again by Simon Steensland was one of my first RIO/Avant prog albums, and to date, I still haven't heard anything else that sounds quite like it. The players on this album play their instruments in a way that is truly fascinating to me, and it is worth many spins just to hear the unique playing of all the musicians who have gathered around Simon Steensland for this recording (including Einar Baldursson, who, as John mentioned in his review already, is also a member of Gosta Berlings Saga, another excellent band from the modern era).

The album is comprised, with two types of songs. There are the "epic" lengthier tracks, including the opener (Der Klang Von "Musik", clocking in at 16 minutes) the closer (The Lion Tamer, clocking in at 20), and Hide and Seek (8 minutes). Then their are the pieces that sound, to my ear, like little pieces of candy - short but sweet - only in this case, the candy also has a bit if sour added to it for additional flavour.

The Music

Der Klang Von "Musik" (which translates to The Sound of "Music") is, at this point, my favorite track off of the album and an excellent way to open up the album. Throughout it's 16 minutes, it shifts mood and texture multiple times, starting with an off-kilter beat, switching to a more spaced out section, using light electric guitars, thick bass, and woodwinds. From here, it builds into something a bit more electric, eventually adding very, very heavy guitars. This is not even seven minutes in, and over the nine minutes of the song that remain, it continues to twist and turn, inundating your ears with excellent music the entire time.

Next, the album gives us four "treat" tracks, the short Lost In The Ark, Merde!, Memories of Jan Josta, and Loch Ness (ranging from 0:25-2:27). The sound of these tracks ranges, from sung vocals (Lost in the Ark) to simply layered, odd-sounding wordless vocals (Merde!), to instrumental tracks (Memories of Jan Josta and Loch Ness). Loch Ness in particular, which features xylophone, lots of space, and airy backing instrumentation, is a fascinating track.

Just past the halfway point, we are introduced to "Hide and Seek", a song that is built up on top of a pattern, with various instruments playing with or against the main beat of the song, which is started once again by those haunting female vocals. The song tends to be quite hypnotic throughout it's run and is yet another of my favorite tracks off this album.

The next three tracks are the last of the short tracks, including my favorite short track and the one that got me interested in this album, "The Queen of Sweden". Xylophone (I think) plays odd tone runs while the rest of the song builds up underneath, becoming quite an appealing track, and unlike anything else I have heard in my experience to this point.

The Lion Tamer starts with a fun little drum beat before building up. In the end, it does sort of settle on a basic beat, relying more on slow build-up and subtle changes than the opener. In this sense, the Lion Tamer is a more chilled out song, and an apt way to close the album.

Visual

Visually, the album is quite interesting. There is, of course, the amusing cover art, but more amusing to me is the image imprinted on the CD, of Spiderman in the mountains wearing a baret and carrying a case of beer and a guitar. Perhaps this is Simon's creative process - dress a Spiderman, hide in nature, drink beer and jam?

 Fat Again by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.12 | 28 ratings

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Fat Again
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Simon Steensland hails from Sweden and obviously has a sense of humour as witnessed by the album cover here. So funny. Oh and the album's title is humerous as well. Interesting because the music has nothing to do with humour, in fact it's quite dark, intense and eerie at times. I have to tell you that this album is an absolute gem, sort of a Zeuhl / Avant / Rio mix that is so well done. Simon has some incredible guests here helping him out including a host of female vocalists with there wordless melodies. Simon is a MAGMA fan having contributed a track to one of those tribute albums, and it shows here. The guitarist is the present one for GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA, I gave the album he played on 5 stars. The guy can play. And so can Simon, a multi-instrumentalist who plays a variety of instruments including cello, harmonium, guitar, keyboards, bass and more. The two guys from MATS / MORGAN help out along with other guests.

"Der Klang Von "Musik"" is a monster (maybe that's where the idea for the cover art came from). It kicks in quickly with an intense rhythm section. Organ follows and it comes and goes. I like the guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. It becomes more prominant a minute later. The heavy beat slows down until it stops 4 1/2 minutes in. It kicks back in at 6 minutes. This is heavy duty. The heaviness lets up but it's still intense. It settles after 11 1/2 minutes and it's dark. Accordion joins in. Heavy again 14 minutes in, in fact it's ANEKDOTEN-like here. The tempo picks up. Insane ! "Lost In The Ark" opens in a mellow way as female vocal melodies come in. "Merde!" is a short tune with outbursts of drums and vocal melodies. Cool sound.

"Memories Of Jan Josta" is almost catchy and it's quite dark. A haunting finish to this song as well. "Loch Ness" sounds like outbursts of vibes that come and go in a dark atmosphere. "Hide & Seek" opens with a beat as these eerie sounding multi vocals join in. Incredible sound ! The drums are excellent. This is such a trip. Very Zeuhl-like. "Frals Oss Ifran Ondo" is laid back with female vocal melodies. "The Queen Of Sweden" features some cool sounds and it turns intense later. "Petite Merde" is 26 seconds of female vocal melodies. Five ladies singing on this one. "The Lion Tamer" has so much going on once it gets going. It settles after 2 minutes with guitar, bass and drums. Very intense 6 minutes in. Clarinet before 11 1/2 minutes and it gets kind of crazy. Heavy duty 14 minutes in then it settles with female vocals. Vibe-like sounds after 15 1/2 minutes. It's spooky 17 1/2 minutes in to the end.

Music for the adventerous. Easily 4 stars.

Thanks to avestin for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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