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KULTIVATOR

Eclectic Prog • Sweden


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Kultivator biography
KULTIVATOR is a Swedish band as unique as unclassifiable. This was formed in 1978 by the nucleus of TUNNELBANAN (Stefan Carlsson, Johan Svärd and Johan Hedrén), symphonic prog rock band highly influenced by YES and GENESIS, the guitarist Jonas Linge whose playing is reminiscent of Phil Miller and the soprano Ingemo Rylander. The band split just after the release of their first and unique album, due to the apparition of Punk-Rock and New-wave that appealed more to people at that time. The LP named "Barndomens Stigar" recorded in 1981 was reedited on CD by the APM label in 1992. On that occasion, the band reformed in order to release two bonus tracks. Today, the members of KULTIVATOR follow various artistic solo careers (music, theater and teaching).

KULTIVATOR's music : a vast field of investigations ! It seems impossible in a first approximation to classify them in a musical category rather than in another. Indeed, the facets of their music are so numerous, and one can notice the same about their influences, and their originality taken from their folkloric Swedish roots. The band itself recognized the following influences : MAGMA, KING CRIMSON, HATFIELD & THE NORTH, HENRY COW, ART BEARS, GENTLE GIANT, ART ZOYD and UNIVERS ZERO. A true hybrid to sum up that blends influences from Zeuhl, Art Rock, Canterbury, RIO and symphonic prog rock.

Some famous "journalistic shortcuts" place them halfway between Zeuhl and Canterbury ('Halfway between heaven and earth' sang Richard Sinclair...). Reality, in the light of their music and their influences, is much more complex and it needs a better definition of what Zeuhl is; much more than what commonly defines it on the base of powerful, hypnotic and repetitive themes, achieved by the rhythm section and the piano or on the base of incantatory chants with melodies at times dissonant but above all simple in terms of harmony.

So ? The question is not "To be Zeuhl or not to be". The answer would have been given by the following albums once KULTIVATOR would have found its musical maturity and would have gone farther than its original influences. Anyway, "Barndomens Sigar" is a must-have for any prog lover."

: : : Tauhd Zaïa, FRANCE : : :
(Many thanks to Lucas for the English translation)

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3.79 | 53 ratings
Barndomens Stigar
1981

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KULTIVATOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by Dr. Judkins

4 stars Though listed as Eclectic Prog, and slightly influenced by the Zeuhl style, Kultivator's Barndomens Stigar has quite a lot to offer to fans of Jazz fusion and Avant-prog, amongst others. The record also occasionally delves into folk territory, particularly in the intro to the title track.

As a "mixed bag" album, Kultivator fuses styles and bridges genre gaps quite well, carrying an ever-constant traditional keyboard-heavy prog feel throughout most of these cross-style excursions. Predominantly an instrumental album, the occasional vocals, mostly female, are very tastefully employed to give the album a very well-rounded feel, never staying too long in one territory or another before taking off somewhere else. The band had an excellent talent for switching styles on a dime without hesitation, but keeping a constant, flowing sort of feeling throughout, as opposed to more well-known style-shifters such as Naked City who were more known for abruptly and unexpectedly changing at the slightest moment's notice.

While this is thought of as a Zeuhl-inspired album, I only detect a hint of the style, particularly on the track Grottekvarnen, but even there the band's tendency to go back to other styles keeps it from being straight Zeuhl. Often times, their excursions into the Zeuhl style break into heavier or more experimental sounding jams or breakdowns, frequently putting me in mind of Red-era King Crimson. Mallet percussion and the free-swinging female vocals remind me of groups such as Bondage Fruit.

There are occasional glimpses of circus music, helped along by the wide range of keyboard and organ tones and voices used liberally throughout the record, and the guitarist's propensity for playing dissonant, jazz-influenced riffs, and occasionally improvising solos in non-traditional keys. These combine with a hundred other little oddities across the span of the record that serve to keep it fresh and exciting to the ears: occasional droning chants, keyboard riffs reminiscent of alien landings, juxtaposition of softer, slower sections, followed with harder and heavier sections, an appearance of a music-box like section, and liberal use of eclectic key changes are just a few of the many examples.

I have to say the strongest instrument here is the drums, played proficiently and consistently by Johan Sv�¤rd. He extensively uses offbeats, bebop-tinged rhythms, unorthodox fills, and typically just a fresh approach to the instrument in general, which is fantastic for this record, as it is heavily rhythmically based.

I highly recommend this record to a wide range of listeners as it's got a little something for lots of different kinds of prog fans, although it does typically border on the fringe styles.

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars Kultivator were a band from Sweden who only released this one album. This is a great album released at a time when we are told 'prog' was on life-support. For 1981, progressive rock doesn't get much better than this. The music here is an interesting cross between Canterbury and Zeuhl. There is guitar, bass, drums and keyboards(Rhodes, organ, synth). Some flute and other traditional folky instruments. Both male and female vocals. The latter remind me of both Hatfield's Northettes and the singers from Eskaton.

You can listen to the first song "Hoga Hastar" here on PA. What a song it is! Listen to the drums and bass at the beginning. Wow. This song has a memorable organ part. Nice sound from the Rhodes before it goes into a folky part with flute. Later on there is a guitar solo with some synth. "Vemod" is where Anekdoten got the name of their first album. "Kara Jord" has a great Zeuhl-like section that starts 2 1/2 minutes in. About 5 1/2 minutes there is a Zeuhl bass part with a Canterbury guitar solo. Sweet. The title track starts off folky with flute. Before the first minute comes some great drums, bass and Rhodes. The flutes from the beginning come back. A good organ solo in this song.

"Grottekvarnen" has some great drumming. A nice organ solo before an atmospheric section with lots of hi-hat action. Drums pick up then a great fuzzy guitar solo. "Varfol" starts off with a Rhodes and guitar part that sounds like Samla Mamma Manna. "Novarest" has male and female vocals doing a call-and-response of the song title. I like the guitar tone in this song. Love the Rhodes part that starts 2 1/2 minutes in.

Of the two bonus songs here, "Haxdans" is the most interesting. There is some kind of traditional percussion which sounds like tabla. Nice synth at the beginning. The majority of the song is very fusionesque. If you love Hatfield & The North as well as Magma, then you'll love this album. The sound and production is not the greatest, but the compositions and playing is great. 4 stars.

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Swedish one-shot band released this strange album in 1981. Nothing from time signatures happily could be found on it. The music there is unusual mix of psychedelic progressive fusion and zeuhl with some female vocals.

Being somewhere on the border between two genres, the music is not jazzy enough to be classified as jazz fusion (or even Canterbury), but at the same time isn't such dark, old and gothic-avant to be tagged as real zeuhl. Combination looks quite interesting on paper, but in real life compositions are not enough focused. When listening, you can hear zeuhl pieces and progressive fusion pieces, and even some classic-influenced pieces, but all them hardly present final musical product. In many cases, that pieces just stay separated musical pieces, taken from different genres.

Really original album, released in the time of post-punk and new age, but not strong enough to be counted as it's time significant progressive release. Possibly, more interesting for researchers, than for casual jazzy/avant progressive fans.

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars It seems so unreal that outside Canterbury and after the 70s were over that good Canterbury-influenced music could be created and recorded. And when I say "good", I mean "Excellent", "magnificent", "exciting". Swedish band Kultivator was regrettably a one-shoot act whose "Barndomens Stigar" album was an important legacy for the world of jazz-prog. This album's material is to a large degree based on the influences of "4th"-"5th"-era Soft Machine, Gilgamesh and the jazzy elements of Henry Cow's first two albums. There are also hints to Matching Mole and the somber aura of early Univers Zero, but these are less dominant. This exhibition of complex, experimental jazz- rock comprises a peculiar, challenging melodic vibe that includes an important dose of dissonances and an inch of disturbing darkness. Ingemo Rylander's mezzosoprano timber is obviously influenced by Amanda Parsons, while Linge's guitar deliveries state a midpoint between Phil Miller's stylish chops and Fred Frith's cerebral delirium. Additionally, Hedrén's organ emulates the vibrato archetypized by Dave Stewart and Mike Ratledge. Well, Kultivator is mostly Canterbury- based, which is not a denial of the band's capacity to elaborate certain variables in this frame. The first three pieces pretty much fit the standard described in this review, with the third one being the most aggressive track: this is due to the way that Carlsson's fuzzed bass takes center stage in the track's development. 'Kära jord' and 'Grottekvarnen' are the two longest numbers in the album, with enough room to work on the extroverted side of the band. The interactions are solid and creative, allowing the main motifs to be developed toward an electrifying climax. The namesake track is another highlight: it starts with a beautiful intro on recorder, which eventually turns out augmented by the whole ensemble with controlled colorfulness: if one ever wondered how it would be if Gentle Giant and Gilgamesh had written and recorded a prog piece together, this song is the answer. 'Vårföl' has a festive mood that places a sense of warm flourishes, while the closer 'Novarest' finds the band going the opposite way, to the dark side of their musical voice. To my ears, it sounds like a mixture of UZ's "1313" and ZMM's "Familjesprickor". The final blow works as an effective farewell to the repertoire. But this is not the CD's finale, since it contains two excellent bonus tracks. 'Häxdans' retakes the mixture of Renaissance colors and jazzy dynamics that was already present in the 'Barndomens Stigar' track. 'Tunnelbanan Medley' is a live track from a 1979 concert: it follows the pattern of the official album's first three pieces. Kultivator is a must for every lover of experimental prog with a heavy Canterbury component: as simple as that.

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I don't know why it took me so long to get into Zeuhl. I have been floored by bands like ESKATON, HAPPY FAMILY, DUN and now KULTIVATOR. ANEKDOTEN lists fellow Swedes KULTIVATOR as an influence. Hard to believe this came out in 1981, another record I can hold up as an exception to the mediocre music of the eighties.

"Hoga Hastar" is dominated for the first two minutes by aggressive drums and organ. This is a great uptempo track to open the album with. Love the fuzzed out bass too which is very Zeuhl-like. "Vemod" brings to mind the title of ANEKDOTEN's first album but the music here is slowed down now from the first track with female Swedish vocals. The instrumental passages in between the vocal sections are fantastic ! Some great sounding liquid keys on this one and check out the deep bass line too. Flute ends the song. "Smafolket" opens with keys as bass and cymbals join in. The organ play shines 2 minutes in.There are several tempo and climate changes in this one.

"Kara Jord" has a really catchy section after 4 minutes with female vocals. It's back again 5 1/2 minutes and the guitar is great, especially the tone of it. "Barndomins Stigar" opens with flute before keys and drums arrive. This song is like a breath of fresh air. Again the bass is prominant. Great song ! "Grottekvarnen" has female vocal melodies which are Zeuhl-like with drums until the mood changes part way through. "Varfol" has more female vocal melodies and along with it a jazz feel with light drums, bass and guitar. "Novarest" reminds me of ESKATON. This is a cool song with male and female vocals singing "novarest" over and over again. An extended instrumental section follows with some great guitar.

The two bonus tracks fit in really well and are just as good as the album tracks. You have to go get this album.

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by Bj-1
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I am not too sure about the Zeuhl tag on this band though there definitely are major influences from that genre here, notably from Magma with very unusual vocal stylising etc. But in addition this band also have a good dose of folk-rock, avant-garde and fusion elements making it very hard to classify properly though the overall style is a lot like some of the original Zeuhl bands so I think I'll be fine with the current classification. Musically, this band sounds like a cross between Magma, Gentle Giant, Samla Mammas Manna, Myrbein and Kebnekaise but they still manage to create their own sound and rarely go into any overused prog clichés. The album has some really strong songwriting with a very adventurous style throughout and the music is never boring, as well as being supported with some really excellent musicianship. Heavily dominated by the Fender Rhodes keyboard, the songs are complex but very playful and not too intense, they all sound very balanced with very few over-the-top moments. The production is good though it could have been a bit warmer and broader, in my opinion.

Not much to complain about here except for that this album is very hard to find, but if you are interested look for Internet stores that specializes progressive rock then you might find it. A very rewarding album and definitely one of Sweden's finest prog-rock achievements, too bad it's fairly unknown among several prog fans. Get it if you can find it! 4.5/5

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by laplace
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Not really as disciplined as an orthodox zeuhl album should be, Kultivator like to rock out with shorter songs which pay out in groove and feeling immediately rather than building anticipation for greater potential highs, prefer their vocals to be closer to angelic than to alien and seem to take as much influence from psyche and folk as from jazz - previous reviewers have suggested that this is merely jazz rock, but given that Barndomens Stigar features Rhodes playing in unusual meters, sci-fi chord changes, militant drumming heavy with insistent snare-play and distinctly Kobaian melodies and bass lines, I see no harm in including them under the most celestial of banners.

Three stars for being an impressive set of songs and a new interpretation of zeuhl (particularly on the track "Kära Jord") from a country you wouldn't associate with the microgenre; no more because of a certain lack of depth, at times.

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by Rainer Rein

3 stars Kultivator was one record band from Sweden. The music of them is something between zeuhl, Canterbury-school fusion and some Swedish folk music. There is some weird National Health- and Hatfield and the North-type female vocals sung in Swedish. Comparing this band with previously named bands and French zeuhl-legend Magma the musicianship of Kultivator on this item is maybe a bit more "clogged". But quite pleasureful listening. My favourite composition on this record is maybe "Kära Jord". 3,5 stars really.

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by mhiraldo

4 stars Excellent Canterbury styled prog with a bit of folk and zeuhl influences, and weird vocals. Tight arrangements and great rythm section. Their sound is basicly produced via the fender rhodes, 70's-bruford-sounding drums and some vocals ala Barbara Gaskin (from the Northetes, singers of Hatfield and the north). The feeling this band gives at time is of an oriental crazed prog band from some othe cosmos, light years away from here. Weird but delightful!

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 Barndomens Stigar by KULTIVATOR album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 53 ratings

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Barndomens Stigar
Kultivator Eclectic Prog

Review by the_dude911

5 stars This one is just the best. It have take me many years before me and my dad thought that I was mature enough to understand this mysic. But now, I really do, and I just lovet it. And for the record, the bassist Stefan Carlsson, is my Dad.

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