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Siena Root - Root Jam CD (album) cover


Siena Root


Heavy Prog

4.16 | 18 ratings

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4 stars Swedish band SIENA ROOT has been around in one form or another since the late 1990's, with a few dozen past members and half a dozen or so current ones, but based around a core trio of musicians from my understanding. They released their debut album back in 2004, and since then three more full length studio creations have been released to a, to my understanding, steadily increasing fan base. "Root Jam" is their first live album, and was issued by Swedish label Transubstans Records in the fall of 2011.

Back in February 2012 I had the good fortune of seeing Siena Root performing live in Gothenburg. A splendid live band, preparing their live performance with care and attention to detail so that they can really flaunt their skills on stage later. One can say a lot about studio albums, but a well honed and well prepared band that create music suited to live performances will more often than not be better to experience in such circumstances rather to be investigated through a more polished studio creation documented on shiny plastic. Or good old fashioned vinyl, a format this band has a deep affection for it would seem, as all their productions are available also as LPs. Including this live recording.

Anyhow, this double disc set documents Siena Root's skills as a live band in a very nice manner. From my own experience with them I'd guess that there's little if any amount of doctoring added to this recording, as the vitality of their live performance have been captured quite nicely thank you.

As a band we're dealing with an entity firmly rooted in the 1970's. Black Sabbath tinged stoner rock sit side by side with harmonic inserts many Wishbone Ash fans will find pleasing, gentle organ passages that makes me think about Bo Hansson have their place here, so does more majestic parts closer to the likes of Deep Purple or Atomic Rooster, and there's even a fair few sequences that to my ears sounds like Black Sabbath organ style. Spirited hard rock sequences closer to Led Zeppelin is another rather common feature. An amalgam of the greatest from the 1970's book of sophisticated hard rock assembled into one tight package if you like, but with an overall sound very much their own despite the numerous references. Oh, and let's not forget about the improvisational nature of many songs, where the instrumental parts may veer of into shorter or more elongated instrument runs of the kind that you just don't record on studio albums.

Another aspect of this band's repertoire is the inclusion of elements from the psychedelic realms of course. What appears to be a violin but might as well be a hurdy gurdy makes the occasional appearance, for final track "Reverberations" I suspect it has to be the latter for sure in a raunchy, energetic duel alongside the organ towards the end. And adding even more psychedelic details to the proceedings the rather more widespread use of sitar, most prevalent in the songs whose titles doesn't appear to give much meaning for an English speaking crowd. Smells like India and sounds like Raga, to put it that way. And in a good manner too I might add, the brief "Bhairavi Thumri" one of the distinct highlights of this performance, despite the subdued and acoustic nature of this little gem. Speaking of which, the most sparkling gem of all to my ears is the one track on this performance that is vastly different from all the others, namely "Words". Another acoustic oriented performance, this one taking a deep excursion into jazz territories in a manner that makes me think of good, old Django and the countless artists he inspired.

All in all a high quality live album by Siena Root, well worth purchasing if you enjoy a band that takes pleasure in exploring the refined parts of 70's hard rock, liberally flavouring their music with more or less subtle psychedelic inspired details, and occasionally making detours right into the middle of that particular stylistic universe.

Windhawk | 4/5 |


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