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Anekdoten - Vemod CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.05 | 414 ratings

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Symphonic Team
5 stars Anekdoten provide thought provoking, mellotron-soaked music on an amazing debut

My first listen to Anekdoten has been a pleasurable experience. The melancholy and ambience the band emit with mellotron, cello and soft vocals is akin to the type of material heard from the legendary King Crimson. The guitar work is so refined and creative it takes music to new levels.

The debut album, 'Vemod' translated in Sweden as 'sadness' is a master work of mellotron-soaked heavy prog. The musicians play like a well-oiled machine, the rhythm section, consists of the bassline hammering of Jan Erik Liljeström who incidentally provides all vocals, and the drumming of Peter Nordins who keeps time with precision. The Fripp-inspired guitarist Nicklas Berg is also a mellotron muso and he is joined by Anna Sofi Dahlberg, on mellotron, keys and cello. At times she sings parts which add to the texture and nuances of the songs. On piano is Per Wiberg who provides some lovely scales and arpeggios preferring to play pianofortissimo, in fact the whole band like it loud. The subtle shades of dark and light tones are evident on every track, where sound provides an atmosphere of darkness with heavy deep basslines, and light when the piano is allowed to be joyful, and the mellotron cascades across the void.

There are so many highlights including the mesmirising 'Karelia' which is an instrumental focusing on bass and drum patterns, odd time signatures and full blown mellotron. The real interesting component of the track is the slicing Cello which feels menacing and creates tension in the soundscape.

Another great track is 'The Old Man and The Sea' that begins and ends with an industrial scraping bass effect, incredibly played by Liljeström. There are layers of sound including cello and grand piano that add a true sense of adventure to the music. It is like nothing else I have heard. The band are genuine virtuosos and they never hold back although you sense at times they pull out to release members of the band to shine. The sustained mellotron shimmers with increasing volume and feels chilling to the marrow when those deep resonances are unleashed creeping through your senses. The vocals are well sung on this and it adds a sense of dread the way the lyrics are written: 'The storm has raged here for hours, the water's plunging in on me, The remains of my creation is swallowed slowly down by the troubled sea into unconsecrated ground, gone eternally, gone eternally, Feeder of my visions, carrier of my soul, The last hope for the dreamers, now crashing to the shore, pinioned and torn In presumption and with my foolish pride, I challenged the storm, I challenged the storm.' It reminds me of the old adage of a man battling against the elements similar to the tale of Moby Dick in some respects. Perfect prog theme.

'Where Solitude Remains' begins with a blistering heavy bass riff that is chunked up to the max, and the mellotron sweeps across until finally it breaks to a quiet pad and Liljeström's vocals softly tell the strange tale: 'I watch the clouds through my window, sail across the sky and underneath the canopy, gulls, they wheel and glide, the shoreline stretches endlessly along these windswept plains, I wander through this barren land where solitude remains, I've made myself a universe in this far-off home, unseen from the outside world, here I live and roam and though I've tried assiduously to heal the wounds with time, you'll haunt me in my memories until I die.' I think the lyrics are some of the best I have come across expressing true alienation and loss, foreboding but thoughtful, and the music answers perfectly with appropriate precise emotional nuances. The instrumental at the end is so arresting, emotional and played with excellence, it seals the deal that this is another definitive highlight.

'Thoughts in Absence' is a type of break in transmission, a much softer approach with mellotron, clean guitar and clear vocals about life's ups and downs: 'ease and calm you give but life begins... my time has come now, this bird has flown, a glimpse of hope but still an everlasting moment' Certainly it is cliché driven dialogue but it works as a balladic piece, in sharp contrast to the relentless riffing on other songs. The song is sugarsweet, shimmering and short. It works nicely between two killer tracks.

'The Flow' is my favourite, it really grew on me and I cannot get over how incredible the music is. It begins with minimalist woodwind sounds and chimes, a monkey wails and jungle echo percussions give an ethereal atmosphere. The guitar fades in with relentless picking ala Fripp style. There is a blood curdling scream signifying that the band are ready to go into full flight. The chord changes are fastidious and fabulous, descending and doomy. The monstrous bassline is astonishing and an off kilter drum beat adds the perfect balance. The fluid, lulling mellotron pads are huge, creating a massive wall of sound. Then it phases out during the soft vocalised verses: 'Random lines fall in place, adulterines slowly fade away, I'm sucked in deep by the flow, taken in by the undertow.' An instrumental break is unleashed with Dahlberg's heavenly cello that is grinded and tortured before an angular guitar blazes away. It is simply awesome and I had the chills when that chord progression suddenly took a detour and the foreboding cello sliced to its conclusion.

Another highlight is 'Wheel' with an accentuated angular riff that is constant with some estranged vocal harmonies. The flugelhorn on this is divine, amidst a backdrop of booming bass and off beat drums. The main thing I am really impressed here is the ghostly, ethereal vocals of Anna Dahlberg who compliments Jan Erik Liljeström beautifully. The lengthy instrumental break is uplifting and multilayered with mellotron and guitar.

'Sad Rain' is the bonus track to the CD that heavily relies on soft mellotron, sounding at times like a flute, very pretty and melancholy. The lyrics are heartfelt bittersweet about walking on a path that never ends: 'and so our time has come, my friend, the child who cries and no-one seems to care, the echoes of the birds are gone, the sky is painted grey, but it's so warm, searching for a light in the darkness, trying to keep your eyes from the dirt, taste the bitter wine of tomorrow, I'm walking on a path that never ends.' Wonderful emotional music that is invigorating and thought provoking.

There seems to be strong recurrent theme on this album about being lost at sea and feeling a sense of isolation and alienation from society, a loss of great magnitude is all pervading, and a sense of hopelessness and reaching out in despair. Yet I could not call it a concept album, as it is more subtle than that but there is no denying the thematic content is linked.

As this is the debut for the band I had reservations about giving a masterpiece status but, hang it, the album is astounding and deserves recognition. It is not often you encounter music at the measure of this calibre, but when you do, it is mesmirising and you cannot get enough of it. I became hooked on the band from this debut and made an effort to systematically get every album. That in itself is a true sign as far as I am concerned to award 5 stars and so I shall, without reservation.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |


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