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Detektivbyrån - E18 Album CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.00 | 3 ratings

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3 stars The old twirl done anew

If you've ever visited the alluring lands of Sweden, and here I'm not simply talking about the big cities of Malmö and Stockholm, but the mighty and far reaching territories surrounding them, then you probably know the yellowish brown colours of the roads and fields. A particular trade of the countryside not unlike the shading of the red African sands that too has that endemic feel to it. Out there you find people who live like they did hundreds of years ago - off the fat of the land and always according to the ways of old.

That is a big part of what you find on this debut from the Swedish band Detektivbyrån, which quite aptly translates into the detective bureau (what?!?).... The band is firmly rooted in the traditions of old - namely the Nordic folk music, though handed over to the listener as something altogether new. Sweden is of course not at all a stranger to beefing up it's natural heritage - be that the one found in the sonic universe or the one encountered in fine dining cuisines as witnessed during recent years.

Back in the late 60s early 70s there was a strong 'movement' of scattered Swedish bands who all tried implementing the old Nordic folk twist into the cutting edge musics of psych rock, jazz and what we nowadays call prog (I'll bet you my most prized llama that prog was a complete unknown to the 1970s youth of Sweden). You could hear this trade shine through in the repertoires of Kebnekaise, Archimedes Badkar, Älgarnas Trädgård and to a lesser extent in the panoramic hands of Björn J:Son Lindh. Back then though the expression often turned into a strange, albeit wonderful cockentrice of sound - often entertaining saucy gooey psychedelics, whirling fusion wings and that oh so earthy business of folk music that makes old people twirl and dance. To my own corrupted ears the final product often mimics the adventurous feel of the one found in Germany, which is why I've often spoken of the secret Swedish Krautrock scene, slightly tongue-in-cheek though...

On E18 there is none of the aspects found in the earlier groups trying to fiddle about with the Nordic culture. On here it feels modern and crystal clean. Raw plinkering piano humming child-like melodies often echoed through the always naive and frail touch of the glockenspiel.

Even when the accordion steps in a offers up a good ol boogie, you still feel a sense of modernity shrouding it. Now whether that appears in the form of some twitchy ska rhythms, punkish naiveness, pompous symphonic player-piano stints or the purposely warped synths, you never genuinely feel transported back to a time where horses were the fastest means of transportation.

Consisting of 11 instrumental cuts E18 takes it's audience through the transparency of it's own past and delivers a different view on how the music of yore nowadays can be viewed and listened to, when cleverly woven together by the zeal and geist of young musicians with their hands deeply stuck down the trousers of their natural heritage.

So what are these cats playing to conjure up this mish mash of old n new you might be asking yourself? Well we get glockenspiel, drums, accordion, zither, electronics, music box, scissors, traktofon, secret soundbox, shoes, black box, bass, piano, Rhodes piano and pump organ. Now any band listing shoes as an instrument deserves a big fat smooch in my honest opinion. How's that for innovation eh?

Nah what all of these instruments should tell you is that the music appears highly intricate and finely stitched together through what must've been a painstakingly long time of yet another new layer to the tune - yet another take in the studio. Most of the time this album feels like a myriad of small tinkering bits flying round in all kinds of folk laden melodies, although never quite adapting a clear cut vision of where to go. That is part of it's charm but similarly also why the album can get a little tedious towards the end.

If you're looking for a modern progressive folk music with clear ties to the past yet with a fingerprint and bonkers snarl of it's own, then you could do a lot worse than contacting this talented detective bureau. I'm almost certain they'll find the butler at some point, the eternal perpetrator. 3.5 stars.

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |


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