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Afenginn - Retrograd CD (album) cover




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3 stars Retrograd is the debut album from Danish avant garde/ folky act Afenginn. Afenginn is a five piece band that uses instruments like Mandolin, Mandola, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Violin, Electric and acoustic basses, drums, percussion and Xylophone in their music. The lack of guitar and keyboards in the music gives Afenginn a very organic sound. In addition to the above mentioned instruments that the five members play there are also a wide cast of guest musicians on the album that play instruments like accordian, Trumpet, Flugelhorn, euphonium, tuba, tuba, Viola, Cello, skraldofen, flexitone and Wooden Flute.

The music is unlike anything else I have heard on PA. It sometimes reminds me of the music you hear in silent movies and sometimes its more like classical chamber music, jazz or balkan and Scandinavian influenced ethnic folk. What binds it all together is the great humour in the band which is displayed when they present their songs in the sleeve notes. There are some really funny stories connected to each song. For instance the story about the moose that swam from Sweden to Denmark in 1999 and created quite a stir in Denmark before being hit by a train which is the story behind the connected three songs: track 12, 13 and 14. The last suite ( track 14) is called Ddstoget ( Death train).

The musicianship is absolutely excellent. The dynamics are very pleasant and we are treated with both beautiful quiet passages and more bombastic and loud parts. What makes this album so great is the obvious playfulness that is displayed in every song and the joy of playing music which is also very evident.

The production is very good and professional. Im sure everyone that listens to this album will envy this great production.

Retrograd is a truly progressive avant garde album in every sense of the word and I really hope it reaches its right audience. For me personally this isnt my favorite style and even though I would love to give Retrograd a 4 star rating Im not feeling convinced that its the right thing to do, so for now Ill give the album 3 big stars and promise that I will return to the album again in the future to see if it has grown enough on me to deserve a 4 star rating.

Report this review (#183941)
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars The debut album from Afenginn signals the advent of something very strange coming our way.

Afenginn has been described as an etno band. Indeed they are. But what etno ? On this album, you find influences from most cultures in Europe. The Balkan folk music scene included. But the main culture is the Scandinavian folk music culture. The music can be compared as a mix of Flairck, jazz and some oddball Scandinavian folk music.

I think their true story about this elk who swam to Denmark from Sweden, applied for political asylum and then robbed the apple farmers for a year full of harvest before this very happy and well fed political asylum seeking elk was hit by a train and died. I just mention this story to illustrate the happy cheerful madness in Afenginn's music. All kinds of woodwind instruments are liberally scattered around this music and mostly also used as solo-instruments. The bass is hanging in there too. Various cymbals and sound making hardware from the kitchen is used as drums. In short, this album is cheerful madness.

The quality is good throughout though. There is nothing here I do not like. This album is not their best album by any means. But it is still something worth checking out. I happens to like it.

3 stars

Report this review (#285650)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Review Permalink

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