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Moon Safari - Blomljud CD (album) cover

BLOMLJUD

Moon Safari

 

Symphonic Prog

4.12 | 500 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Modern prog has it's fair share of 'cheesemongers', yet there are few as who are as relentlessly upbeat as Moon Safari.

Hailing from Northern Sweden, this youthful symphonic six-piece first appeared in 2005 with debut album 'A Doorway to Summer', which was produced, mix and mastered by one of the band's own icons, Tomas Bodin of The Flower Kings.

Issued through their own label, the album quickly caught the attention of the prog world, and following several mini-tours and festival appearances the group returned to the studio in 2008, almost three years later, to record this follow-up.

Titled 'Blomljud'(also, incidentally, the name of the band's label), this was considered one of the top prog album's of 2008 by a number of publications and, eleven years and four studio albums later, remains in many people's eyes their definitive work.

Some say they are essentially 'Flower-Kings-lite' - think Druid to the mighty Yes - yet others revel in their unashamedly symphonic glow.

And it's that sort of of record, warm, shiny, all yearning solo's and multiple harmonies, and exactly the kind of prog Roine Stolt has been producing since the 1970's.

But despite a perceived lack of originality, one must give Moon Safari their dues.

'Blomljud' features a rich, multi-layered sound, chiming vocal harmonies and an unshakeable happiness, and exudes the same kind of rose-tinted ambience found in the sun-dappled sixties pop of the Bee Gees and The Beach Boys.

The album's key piece is 'Other Half of the Sky', which the band describe as their first 'true' epic, and at over thirty minutes it certainly is epic.

Split into five different chapters, 'Other Half of the Sky' is both overlong and grandiose, yet it features some wonderful instrumental passages, and even allows the band to rock out with some harder edged guitars and booming percussion. However, much of the half-hour piece is taken up by achingly earnest vocals and gloopy synthesized melodies, and the overall sound isn't helped by a surprisingly thin-sounding production.

The album features two more sizeable epics - the fifteen-minute 'Methuselah's Children' and the near-twelve minute 'Bluebells' - alongside further eight tracks, most of which follow the strong symphonic blueprint.

The major problem, bar the length, is the lack of tone and shade, and the neverending, one-note optimism; the music is rarely anything but positive and shiny, and the lack of counter moods begins to detract from the technical expertise of the band. What made Yes so thrilling was the constant shifting from dark-to-light, and what makes the Flower Kings so are the surprising shifts in mood and tempo.

Both are in short supply on 'Blomljud'.

But there is still much to admire.

Technically, the band are excellent, and despite wrapping everything in a glutinous symphonic sheen, the relentless optimism does shine through. At it's best, like on the epic 'Other Half of the Sky', the music is genuinely inspiring.

A complex and lovingly-crafted slice of keyboard-dominated prog with strong pop-rock and AOR elements, those who have the time, and the stamina, may well adore 'Blomljud', and fans of The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, Yes and Starcastle should seek them out.

The Swedes have excelled at making this kind of prog for a long while now, and despite their flaws one, once again, does give Moon Safari their dues: sickly sweet they my be, but they do it damn well.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2016

stefro | 3/5 |

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