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NICKLAS BARKER

Crossover Prog • Sweden


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Nicklas Barker biography
Swedish composer and musician Nicklas BARKER (formerly Berg) was born back in 1969, and is best known for his more than 20 years long tenure in Swedish band ANEKDOTEN. He's also a member of two other band projects, MORTE MACABRE and MY BROTHER THE WIND.

In 2011 Barker made his debut as a solo artist, when he issued his soundtrack for Spanish horror movie "El Ultimo Fin De Semana" as a standalone album. A production which has received a favorable reception and good sales, the CD version selling out in just a couple of weeks.

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El Ultimo Fin De Semana - Original Soundtrack By...El Ultimo Fin De Semana - Original Soundtrack By...
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Musea 2011
Audio CD$14.50
$9.21 (used)

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3.80 | 12 ratings
El Ultimo Fin de Semana
2011

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NICKLAS BARKER Reviews


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 El Ultimo Fin de Semana by BARKER, NICKLAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 12 ratings

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El Ultimo Fin de Semana
Nicklas Barker Crossover Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Special side-project of Anekdoten guitarist Nicklas Barker; he's here witing and perfoming a soundtrack for Spanish director Norberto Ramos. Although not yet a household name in the Hispanic peninsula's film industry, Ramos has done a few movies, of which Ultimo Fin De Semana ranks as one of his most remarkable. Our Last Week End Together (the English title) is a thriller about four women fleeing everyday's pressure for one week-end on the country's north coast. Despite the limited budget, the movie is well-worth seeing; although I gather that most Hollywood-accustomed movie freak will probably only moderately appreciate it.

Getting back to the (instrumental) music, Barker plays almost everything himself, but then again, a large part of it is the Mellotron (a forefront feature of his band's soundscapes) or apparently Tron-simulating synths. Musically this soundtrack is somewhat similar to Anekdoten's other side-project of a few years ago called Symphonic Holocaust, which was a fantasy project of soundtrack to imaginary Italian horror movies. The main difference I will point out between the two affairs is that Holocaust was four musicians making a full symphonic raucous, while Semana is much more intimate solo affair. As I said above, Barker plays almost everything on the album, but he's still joined by Anekdoten buddy and drummer Nordins and family members (wives or sisters most likely) of Nicklas and Doten bassist Bergstrom, for additional strings. As for Nicklas, he's playing the Trons, synths,bass and a Theremin. Obviously the Trons is the music's main ingredient and its melancholic layers provide plenty of tension and sentimental and scary moods (at least when watching the movie)., but in the end, one can't escape its beauty. Most of the music beongs to the rock realm, though a few moments (like the closing track) may sound a bit like village-fair stuff, which distracts a bit the cohesion of it all.

Although the soundtrack's music is already plenty poignant enough, you'll easily understand that it gains even more to have seen the movie to appreciate the context of the music. Furthermore, the movie includes an extra-track, one Anekdoten track (from their Gravity album), but that didn't find space on this CD, most likely for contractual reasons. The DVD of the movie also features a Barker interview and a studio video of the soundtrack's most vibrant track. Although the album is very worthy, you might want to directly order the movie, which seels for cheaper if you order it directly from the director himself via his website.

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 El Ultimo Fin de Semana by BARKER, NICKLAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 12 ratings

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El Ultimo Fin de Semana
Nicklas Barker Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A wonderful soundtrack!

The name of Nicklas Barker is not new in the progressive rock realm, you surely know him mainly for his work with Anekdoten; but his name as a solo artist is actually new, so what does he offer under his name? First of all, it is necessary to mention that Barker was contacted by Spanish director Norberto Ramos Del Val, who created a horror film which lacked of music, so he found the ideal man in the Swedish. The name of that film is the same of this CD: "El último fin de semana", and though I have not watched the movie, the music incites me to do so.

Now, the name of Morte Macabre will surely spring to your mind once you listen to this album, and the reason is quite simple: lush mellotron moments and an inherent terror/horror feeling. That is what this solo album offers, but now let me be a little bit more specific. This soundtrack features seventeen compositions that make a total time of 35 minutes, so as you can imagine, most of them are short pieces that (I imagine) are the perfect complement for the image (the movie). Fortunately, the album is distributed here in Mexico via Azafrán Media.

It kicks off with "Leo", a short introductory track in where we can listen to the movie's actors, yelling, crying, while a tense atmosphere is built as background. This track leads to "Celestial Ghost", a five-minute song (this is actually the only song that surpasses the 3:30 minute mark) that has a nervous vibe during its whole duration. The symphonic sound is evident due to the lush keyboards; the mellotron never ceases and along with that scary theremin and nice drums, create together a wonderful horror piece. This song could be taken as the single of this CD, I actually watched a youtube video of it before getting the album, and it really caught my attention right away.

"Night Ambience" at first is much softer than the previous, it is like a breath after an agitated moment, but after some 40 seconds the mellotron appears again and the tension will cause you nervousness. "Sisters" is a delicate piece, with a flute-like mellotron that is later contrasted by other synth sounds. "Phantasm" is a short one-minute piece where a somber background can be heard. It leads to "Rendezvous" may be (at least in the first two minutes) the track closest to a new-age sound, however, its last 20 seconds become scary, completely terrifying.

"Entering the Lost Village" continues with that feast of mellotron, and of course, with the horror-like sound. It is music that in my opinion could fit in for any Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft story, it really makes your imagination fly. "Confrontation" has some piano notes, later complemented by some strings (I think it is cello) whose intensity is increasing with the pass of the seconds, creating really a heart-attack atmosphere. The strings keep sounding but in a softer way, when we all of a sudden are in a track called "Doom", here the theremin comes back and brings that peculiar sound. Here, later we can also listen to a gong, and after two minutes there is a passage where the music seems to explode, so be careful, you may be surprised!

In "Going Home" the lush mellotron strikes once again, so your imagination is flying and creating stories and passages (this is one of the advantages of not having watched the film, I believe). "Ouija" has a constant synth as background, while some noises can be appreciated for some moments. There are a few seconds of calm, but then all of a sudden "By the Shore" begins and produces that scary and dark feeling that the whole album suggests, however, later it slows down a little bit, producing a kind of sorrowful atmosphere.

The title of "Chase" is actually perfect for this two-minute piece, one can really imagine a scene where someone is trying to escape, running, avoiding being chased. It was a great decision to include drums in this track, because they add the necessary dynamism. "Purgatory" has some strange noises over the synth, putting different textures in the sound. The second longest track of the album comes with "Grand Finale", an emotional track that has a mixture of melancholy, sadness and sorrow, though if you are very positive, it may also have some hope. This is a great piece, excellent mellotron-theremin combo.

The last two pieces are "Home" and "Beach Girls". In the first one a soft sound begins, but it surprises us after forty seconds with a powerful ending. And the second one is a weird composition that reminds me of some 70s horror films such as the Dario Argento. Well, "El ultimo fin de semana" is an extraordinary soundtrack, a feast of mellotron and fear, highly recommended for all who love this instrument in particular. I love it, and though I would not say it is a masterpiece, it is clearly an album that people should have in their collection. My final grade, four stars.

Enjoy it!

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 El Ultimo Fin de Semana by BARKER, NICKLAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 12 ratings

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El Ultimo Fin de Semana
Nicklas Barker Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Norberto Ramos Del Val had contacted Nicklas (ANEKDOTEN) about having MORTE MACABRE do the soundtrack for his film "El Ultimo Fin De Semana" as he had heard that particular MORTE MACABRE album and wanted something along those lines for his Psychological / Thriller themed film. Nicklas related to him that MORTE MACABRE was not a band anymore but that he would gladly take on the project. Nicklas is a big fan of film scores done by people like Fabio Frizzi and was very much into doing this. He improvized a lot of the music here by watching the actual movie. Personally i'm also into film scores and would mention PINK FLOYD, GOBLIN and POPOL VUH as having albums that i've been "into" in the past. MORTE MACABRE really is a good reference point to what you'll hear on this album. We get Peter Nordins (ANEKDOTEN) on drums and it's interesting that Nicklas and Peter were both on that MORTE MACABRE album along with two LANDBERK members. Anyway mellotron really does rule the day here along with violin, cello, synths, drums and theremin. There are 17 tracks at less than 36 minutes but this is almost a seamless affair as many tracks blend into one another.

"Leo" has this eerie vibe (get used to it) as we start to hear people yelling and talking in a distressed manner. "Celestial Ghost" opens with theremin as other sounds join in and build. This is powerful and emotional. Bass, drums and mellotron arrive before 2 minutes. So good. The theremin eases up after 4 1/2 minutes. Killer track. "Night Ambience" features sounds that drift along as strings come in with bass and synths. "Sisters" has mellotron and synths that standout early and strings come in after 1 1/2 minutes. "Phantasm" is haunting and eerie while "Rendezvous" has these sounds that pulse while other sounds come and go.That was really specific. It turns intense after 2 minutes.

"Entering The Lost Village" is simply scary sounding while "Confrontation" is even more scary. It's like something really bad is about to happen. "Doom" continues with the tension as the theremin joins in. Strings late. "Going Home" has a beat with lots of mellotron. "Ouija" has these dark and spacey sounds. "By The Shore" has this startling intro that will make your hair standup. Powerful mellotron and strings before 1 1/2 minutes. "Chase" has strings as an upfront beat kicks in.The beat stops 1 1/2 minutes in as a powerful atmosphere takes over. "Purgatory" is eerie while "Grand Finale" is powerful with theremin, mellotron and synths. "Home" is less dark until it turns horrifying before a minute. "Beach Girls" ends it in a light, almost waltz-like manner.

If you loved that MORTE MACABRE album you'll be drooling when you hear this one.4.5 stars.

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 El Ultimo Fin de Semana by BARKER, NICKLAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 12 ratings

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El Ultimo Fin de Semana
Nicklas Barker Crossover Prog

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Nicklas Barker whilst not exactly a household name, even in prog circles is certainly known to fans of Swedish heavy prog band Anekdoten, his main gig for around twenty years now. El Ultimo Fin De Semana (Our Last Weekend) is his first release under his own name and is in actual fact a soundtrack to a Spanish horror movie directed by Norberto Ramos Del Val.

Barker ditches his guitar in favour of keyboards and bass, the Mellotron being particularly prominent in this suitably dark and atmospheric soundtrack. Whilst the Mellotron is an ideal instrument to capture the haunting vibe of musical pieces he's aided by fellow Anekdoten drummer Peter Nordins, on cello Martha Barker and on violin Karolina Bergström. The generally short pieces should appeal to fans of Italian's Goblin, also known for their horror movie soundtracks and as already mentioned are dominated by mellotron, never a bad thing in my eyes. For the most part the music is fairly subdued and low key, the drums only making the occasional appearance such as on the more upbeat Chase, which could sit quite comfortably on an Anekdoten album. Good use is also made of the Theremin on a couple of tracks, an instrument brought to greater attention by being used by Jimmy Page in the Led Zeppelin film The Song Remains The Same back in the seventies.

Whilst movie soundtracks can often be dull when heard out of context there's no such problem here, the compelling haunting pieces easily standing up in their own right making this a highly enjoyable release. Essential listening for Mellotron lovers.

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 El Ultimo Fin de Semana by BARKER, NICKLAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 12 ratings

BUY
El Ultimo Fin de Semana
Nicklas Barker Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'El Ultimo Fin De Semana' - Nicklas Barker (7/10)

Nicklas Barker is a musician best known for his tenure with well-regarded prog band Anekdoten and psych-rockers My Brother The Wind, but as with most of the musicians in this scene that I respect, his musical vision extends beyond that of collaboration with a few select individuals. Not only is he releasing solo material now, but this so-called debut record 'El Ultimo Fin De Semana' is also a cinematic score, for a Spanish film of the same name. Translated into 'Our Last Weekend', 'El Ultimo Fin De Semana' is a dramatic horror film, and in this music, Barker seeks to mirror the eerie vibe of horror cinema, mostly relying on a number of keyboard instruments. Although staying fairly simple and ambient, Barker's soundtrack to 'El Ultimo Fin De Semana' is a deeply atmospheric adventure, and manages to perfectly emulate the feeling of fear that the film seeks to exploit.

Nicklas Barker is no stranger to the world of horror film music; he had participated in the recording of an album called 'Symphonic Holocaust', which took the themes of classic cult horror films like Rosemary's Baby, and giving them a new twist. With that precedent, it should not come as any surprise that Nicklas Barker is able to make a soundtrack that is filled with archetypes of a soundtrack to any classic scary movie. Barring the haunting mellotron that Barker uses profusely throughout the album, the most notable aspect of the music is the use of the theremin, an electronic instrument that not many can name, but most have likely heard, providing they have watched one or two classic sci-fi movies in their time. It has an incredibly eerie sound to it, and is performed beautifully; although the mellotrons are enough to create a sombre atmosphere, it is the leading theremin that rings most profoundly in my mind after the album is over.

Most of these songs are ambient in nature, which is perfect for the sake of a film, but I can see this heavy focus on atmosphere and texture turning some off to it. Make no mistake; this is music that would likely sound much better in its cinematic context than out, but if a listener is able to take it for what it is, it is a very effective piece of music. Expect no classic themes here of a similar calibre to The Godfather, or even fellow progger Mike Oldfield's theme for The Exorcist, but while no ideas lunge out at the listener, the feeling that the music gives resonates quite a while after the record is over. On that note, 'Grand Finale' does latch onto a very promising melody, but it would have had to have been a little more developed throughout this piece in order to leave a bigger mark on me.

Of course, a film soundtrack is different than a regular album, and for that, its goals and merits are usually quite a bit different. Taking that into consideration, 'El Ultimo Fin De Semana' is a strong work. While I have not seen the film for which this music was made, I can effortlessly picture this music in the context of a film, heightening the atmosphere and enhancing the experience for everyone watching. Barring its context, it is a very good ambient album from Nicklas Barker, and it would be great to hear more of his solo material in the future.

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