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Landberk - Lonely Land CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.57 | 89 ratings

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2 stars I jumped at the chance to buy LANDBERK's debut album (actually an English language re-mix of a reportedly superior Swedish original) after falling under the spell of their 1995 swan song "Indian Summer". But high expectations always have to be paid for, and here the anticipated lightning failed to strike a second time, except for one or two occasional sparks of the (typically understated) brilliance that would illuminate the band's last album four years later with the same ethereal glow of an aurora borealis.

Instead, their fledgling effort plays almost like a roughly cut demo package, with a few promising but unpolished gems half-hidden within its scant 45+ minute running time. The gentle, (mostly) acoustic instrumental "Song From Kallsedet" is quite pretty, in a textbook Scandinavian way. And the ballad "You and I" (no relation to the similarly titled YES epic) has an attractive melody worth returning to.

But the title track is the notable standout here, with that familiar sub-arctic chill (a LANDBERK hallmark) unable to mask the many passages of real emotional warmth. The sitar solo is an unexpected, almost jarring surprise, but in a weird multi-cultural way it actually fits, offering a taste of Sweden by way of Pakistan, with a quasi-Krautrock bass beat worthy of Holger Czukay.

Too bad the rest of the album just sort of plods along, pleasantly enough to be sure, but hindered by an inconsistent mix that doesn't do the music (or the musicians) any favors. Never mind. You can forgive its shortcomings as the growing pains of a young band still coming to grips with its ambitions, still finding its compositional legs, and still with a few knots to untie in the line-up. Drummer Andreas Dahlbäck is the obvious weak link, a glorified timekeeper with none of the style of his eventual replacement, Jonas Lindholm.

And he's even allowed a solo, of sorts, although it sounds more like the engineer might have simply nodded off at his console, lulled to sleep by the heavy air of romantic melancholy and accidentally fading down the other instrument tracks.

This first effort shouldn't be anyone's first choice for an introduction to an otherwise excellent and under-appreciated band. Rumor says the original Swedish language recording is an improvement, but the version available Stateside (on The Laser's Edge label) might be easier to find, although it needs a forgiving ear and a little mental arithmetic to hear the music as it no doubt was intended.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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