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Hidden Lands - Lycksalighetens ÷ CD (album) cover


Hidden Lands



3.53 | 23 ratings

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4 stars Followers of Swedish prog band A Violent Silence are to be excused if they are at least a little confused. Didn't drummer Johan Hedman just release a new Violent Silence album last year named A Broken Truce featuring Martin Ahlquist on vocals as well as Hannes Ljunghall and Bj÷rn WestÚn on Keyboards? How in the world did Martin, Hannes and Bj÷rn manage to find the time and energy to comprise the core of an entirely different prog band named Hidden Lands also releasing a new album titled Lycksalighetens? Is one of these groups a side project or perhaps a studio-only 'band'?

Well, it turns out that composer/keyboardist Hannes Ljunghall took some time away to spend with family and hasn't been actively working with A Violent Silence for over half a decade now. (His continued presence lingers with that band via the modern wonders of Cubase software.) For different reasons, over the course of time other members dropped out of VS here and there as prog musicians tend to do from time to time and then gradually coalesced back together to try their collective hands at yet another new musical adventure.

Meanwhile, Hedman faithfully soldiered on in pursuit of his uniquely percussive and occasionally obliquely metallic vision of guitar-less prog. If you've never heard VS, I recommend you check it out. Hedman is certainly to be commended as one who gives credit where credit is due. Hence the source of my confusion. Let's just say that despite having assembled new band members for A Violent Silence, as long as Hedman gains inspiration from or otherwise uses snippets of old bandmates' performances, we may continue seeing Ljunghall and Wesen listed as contributors on future Violent Silence albums. Fair enough.

Now on to Hidden Lands, our new place to discover the most recent compositions and performances from Hannes and Bjorn featuring vocals by Bruno Edling. It's a real joy to hear what these guys have been up to lately. On one hand, the output of this 'new' band full of familiar names and faces naturally bears more than a few similarities to that of their previous incarnation. But it is the ways in which their music is branching out that I find most interesting. A few tastefully performed six-string solos expand the sonic palette, while also serving to free them from their 'no guitars' novelty. This album will live or die on the songs and performances alone.

With that out of the way, Lycksalighetens is, of course, still a very keyboard-centric affair. The band is fully capable of picking up the tempo to rock a bit here and there, but Hidden Lands' greatest moments happen when bass guitar and keyboard lines playfully yet subtly interact with one another even as catchy vocal lines and competent drumming bind everything together into a cohesive whole.

Some moments of this album call to my mind the 1980's fusion pop band Level 42. That is a very imprecise point of reference, however. Hidden Lands' music is much more varied and complex than Level 42.

During calm stretches, many bands seek to approximate the sense of pastoral bliss through providing extended, droning, uneventful soundscapes. Hidden Lands knows better. Softer passages need harmonic points of interest every bit as much as, perhaps even more than, the uptempo driving sequences. And they deliver the goods! This is true synergy and a wonderful treat to anyone who appreciates classic fusiony symphonic prog with a bright shimmery, yet also mellow and relaxed hue. This is content, happy music that doesn't require you to unplug your mind.. Perhaps more of us should take a few years off to be with family! It sure seems to have worked out well for Hannes Ljunghall

Highly recommended!

progpositivity | 4/5 |


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