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Pär Lindh and Björn Johansson

Symphonic Prog

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Pär Lindh and Björn Johansson Bilbo album cover
3.55 | 59 ratings | 10 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Shire (4:14)
2. Gandalf the Magician (3:25)
3. Song of the Dwarfs (6:02)
4. Rivendell (2:20)
5. The Dark Cave (4:36)
6. Running Towards the Light (3:02)
7. Uncomfortable Seats (6:30)
8. In Beorn's Garden and Beorn's Walk to Carrock (3:12)
9. Mirkwood Suite (11:19)
a. Mirkwood
b. In the Palace of the Elven King
c. Barrel Ride
d. Laketown Fugue
e. The Return of the King
10. Smaug (3:36)
11. Roäc's Tale (1:18)
12. The Battle of the Five Armies (5:31)
13. Thorin's Funeral (1:47)
14. Afterture (3:58)
15. Shire Song (4:08)

Total Time: 65:05

Line-up / Musicians

- Pär Lindh / drums, timpani, congas, gong, electric percussion, Hammond organ, Mellotron 400 and Mark V, Grand piano, Harpsichord, Church organ, Clavinet D6, Solina string ensemble, Fender basspiano, 11 synthesizers including the LSE 1, Korg 3100, Yamaha SY 1
- Björn Johansson / classical, electric & Slide guitars, Bass, Bassoon, Zither, Jews harp, Mandolins, Samples, Sound effects Programming
- Anna Schmidtz / flute, oboe
- Magdalena Hagberg / vocals

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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PÄR LINDH AND BJÖRN JOHANSSON Bilbo ratings distribution

(59 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars boring stuff as Heroic-fantasy fans are starting to get on my nerves with this Tolkien stuff.I really enjoyed reading the ring trilogy in my late teens but never felt the need to re-read it and have music for it and much less having some guy imposing his view on screen . I must be in a small minority(isn't that a change ) but I do refuse to see those movies ( along with Titanic) as to not participate into this mascarade. Now that i vented that out , this album is no rock music - classic, yes- and only because of Lindh connection is this prog or heroic-fantasy?
Review by loserboy
4 stars For those who love both a musical and a magical journey will freak out after hearing "Bilbo". "Bilbo" is a wonderful and creative album full of grandeur and character. Led by top prog musicians Par Lindh who contributes percussion and keyboards and Bjorn Johansson on bass and guitars, "Bilbo" will take you deep into Tolkiens world of demons, trolls and dwarves. Lindh and Johansson find some real tasty moods and sounds which seem to fit perfectly into this little dream, without sounding forced or rushed. This is a very delicate piece really and yet offers some wonderful sound reproduction and volume variety. Vocals are handled effortlessly by Magdalena Hagberg who has an enchanting little voice which seems to really fit snuggly onto this album. Interesting that they should also add real flute and oboe throughout this album (not synth created!) which really adds an authentic breath to this album. Perhaps masterpiece is going too far (a debate only for your ears!) but Bilbo is wonderful music which is essential in your collection.

Review by Marcelo
5 stars Which are the main requirements for a prog masterpiece? IMHO, they are beauty, magic, great musicians and melodies that can makes the listener flow. Well, "Bilbo" has all these elements and more.

It's an incredible trip through a Tolkien story, with classical instruments and superb baroque and medieval tunes, and the fascinating Magdalena Hagberg's vocals (I'm sure, there's no any other female singer with such beautiful voice).

Each detail had been extremely care, showing a refinement hard to find out in the genre. All pieces are highlights, and Pär Lindh demonstrate once again why he is one the best keyboardists among the heavy weights. Björn Johansson's strings job, as well as flute and oboe performances, are great too.

It's a magnificent and delicated album. Forget the noise or the experimentation, just let this beautiful music, true symphonic progressive, penetrates on you. A masterpiece.

Review by richardh
2 stars I bought this album after getting into the Par Lindh Project.This differs from PLP having a much more laid back approach although some symphonic rock ideas pop up here and there.I find this album a bit of a mess to be honest.It lacks any real coherence or structure.Plus the use of animal noises just irritates me although at least there is a nice homage to Pink Floyd's 'Sheep' at the beginning of the 'Mirkwood Suite'.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Star keyboard whiz Par Lindh and assorted string guru Bjorn Johansson combine their numerous talents to produce this musical adaptation of Tolkien's Hobbitt way before tje epic movie Lord of The Rings was even in planning stages! A definite mystical symphonic folk adventure, this surprising recording of delicate medieval-tinged tunes will please some but not all fans, since its quite a departure from PLP's more bombastic style. This CD would fall in just nicely between Ant Phillips' " The Geese & the Ghost" and Gian Castello's splendid "Taliesyn" , with pastoral themes bathing in an almost "children bedtime story" veneer and sweet flowing themes that cast a magical inspiration. Ideal Sunday morning music with mandolins caressing your stessed soul and inconspicuously returning you to the wonderful simplicity of chilhood. 4 tolkiens
Review by Menswear
4 stars This will not please everyone. Some are not attracted to the child side of themselves, making them less sensitive about fantasy or imagination tales. So be it, for others, this will please the hobbit seeking minestrel in you. Some parts are more rythmic such as The Shire, some are more atmospheric like The Dark Cave. I for once, could not remain mute about this fantastic record. This is not a letdown and far more true to the tradition of Tolkien. I'm not a Lord of the Rings maniac, but I definitely prefered Bilbo The Hobbit.

Pär Lindh's talent is once again indiscutable, switching from digital to analogic keyboards and he's fairly well supported by the talents of Johansson on the guitar. The songs are also easy to get into, they're progressive, but not as much as Lindh's solo albums. The fairy tale is well respected, and the people familiar with the book will also find the songs appropriate with the story. The people familiar with Gryphon will have no problem enjoying this.

Wake up the kid in you for an hour with this record.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After listening such releases as "The Middle Earth Album" by GLASS HAMMER, "The Lord of the Rings" by BO HANSSON and "Songs from the Middle Earth" by Rick Wakeman, the albums inspired in the famous trilogy have really reached the level of saturation, don't misunderstand please, I like Tolkien's works as anybody else, but enough is enough.

So with strong prejudice, got this album by LINDH & JOHANSSON mainly due to my respect for Par Lindh, and I must say that I enjoyed the album, the approach is in the borderline between Neo Classical and Symphonic Prog, not the tedious Medieval simulation that most bands play in this kind of releases, the performance of Par Lindh is as always impeccable and are a highlight of the album.

Usually Par captures the listener with his skills in the Organ (his favourite instrument), but in this case the addition of the Mellotron is simply delightful, of course his skills with Church Organ and Hammond are out beyond any doubt, but in this record he sounds fresh and lighter compared with his sober albums with PAR LINDH PROJECT.

But the greatest surprise is Bjorn Johansson, his performance with the Classical guitar is in the order of perfection, even when I listened him playing with Par Lindh before, never really noticed how good he is.

If this wasn't enough, the beautiful voice of the late Magdalena Hagsberg adds the touch of sentiment required for this work and Anna Schmidtz pays some heartbreaking flute sections.

Won't fry to review all the tracks, because this is the kind of albums that must be listened as a whole work, but I would not feel comfortable without mentioning the fantastic "The Dark Cave", a track in which Par Lindh plays an outstanding organ solo and Johansson does a sensitive work with the classical guitar, giving a certain Flamenco touch, the highest point in the album.

My impression about "Bilbo", is that we are not before a masterpiece, but still an interesting work, and in my opinion, the best Tolkien related album I ever heard.

"Bilbo" is not for everybody, but for those of us who love Par Lindh's work and delicate melodic music, this is an excellent addition that I will rate with 4 stars.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Long time, no see my dear friend Bilbo Baggins. But now I've came to take what's mine. This will be bloody revenge you dirty little dwarf. Oh, that's not this story, oops. So, talking about Tolkien's first book in quadrology, blending our dreams how it should look like (because The Hobbit movie is still only "upcoming" dream) in our mind, our feelings about this whole magical story and music, which is (I suppose) also important part here. OK, it is important, no arguing here. This is different, this is very different, in fact, it's quite unlike anything I've ever encountered. Blending soft (but strong) pieces together with classical melody (many, much of them antique, old-times-sounding or ancient-like, instruments)

It's all just dream, of course it's not real, but it sounds like that, I can almost touch things they've encountered, I feel it as it was real, not just imagined in my mind. Hell, this record does very well, bringing in this atmosphere. In other cases, certain parts of it would sound silly, unbelievable, just charade for foolish listener, but not, this is not this case. This is different in many ways. Soft, but strong, weak and tender, but yet thick, as so called brick.

And you know what, after all these facts and Bilbo music I've listened, I'm quite eager to give

5(-), because this one deserves it. After all, I'm not against heroic tales, not at all. And certainly not against one of mothers of them all. Go on Bilbo, you can make it, have your little adventure. True represent of symphonic music.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars I don't want to discuss the need of another tribute to Tolien. Bo Hansson's masterpiece is enough. So I will comment the music only without thinking to the concept.

"The Shire" reminds to some Vollenweider's pieces. Book of Roses as reference. Relaxing music, tendentially new-age. It's followed by "Gandalf the Magician". This is a Wakeman-like track, specially in the sounds choice: Cymbals, Mandolin, Harp as example.

It's only with "Song of the Dwarf" that it turns into celtic. This is the first non-instrumental track. The voice of Magdalena Hagberg makes me think to Pentangle's Jacqui McShee, as well as the melody. A great track if you like the genre of Pentangle or early Clannad.

"Rivendell" is a short childish song, similar to a Christmas carol in the structure (and the voice). Fortunately it's just 2 minutes long. Not that it's too bad. I just think 2 minutes of this are enough.

"The Dark Cave" is dark, as the title says. It's where I find many similarities with Bo Hansson's work, at least in the first half, until the classical guitar remains alone in a Steve Hackett's style. After the guitar part, keyboards are back again to the cold world already described by Bo Hansson. The tracks fades into "Running towards the light"; a track with some drumming and electrical guitar. It alternates between medieval and electronic for two minutes, then it's like Keith Emerson has joined the group. When I mention those artists, I mean mainly that the sounds used are very similar.

"Uncomfortable Seats" Opens with wolves and dogs crying while a crescendo march is played by the keyboards. This track transmits a sense of cold and urgency, even if you don't know the story behind. The second part of the track is more progressive-rock, but after 5 minutes, it goes back in time again.

"In Beorns Garden & Beorns Walk to Carrock" is again in Bo Hansson's style. Well it's not a secret that Par Lindh was a fan of Bo Hansson. A small part of "Lord of the RIngs" is included in the Lindh's live medley "Rondo" from Live in America.

"Mirkwood Suite" starts with a little more than one minute of Krautrock-like keyboard, then guitar and electric piano play a sort of slow Tarantella. When bass comes, it's pure prog- folk. Who likes the most folky songs of Mostly Autumn, will like this track as well. I think Mike Oldfield would like it too. Then it calms down and restarts on a different more rock theme, to stop and rerstart again om different tunes several times. Only the final 2 minutes are sung. The vocals are accompanied by a church organ taht makes it similar to a religious chant.

"Smaugh" is the last track. It's where Par Linh feels himself more comfortable. It takes just 3 amd 1/2 minutes and it's amazing how so many themes are used on this song.

It's a good album that doesn't add anything to Tolkien's stories and is not at the same level of Bo Hansson, so it fits perfectly into the 3 stars definition.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For Par Lindh,words are poor,the founder of Swedish Art Rock Society,which marked the sign of progressive rock's renaissance in the 90's.Wishing to release an album based on J.R.R. Tolkien's writings,Par asked the help of the PAR LINDH PROJECT guitarist Bjorn Johanson,a gifted young musician.The result of this collaboration was this ''Bilbo'' album,released in 1996.

Anyone expecting some ultra-soft,pastoral,Medieval type of music will be surprised by the resemblances between this work and PAR LINDH PROJECT's albums.''Bilbo'' achieves a nice balance between Medieval tunes,melodic Retro-sounding Prog and bombastic Symphonic Music.Par Lindh is responsible for all the keyboards work plus the drums,his lush organ sounds are fantastic,the grand piano work is dreamy,not to refer the majestic synth explorations and the mighty mellotron presented around,but there is much more than these going on.Johansson prooves to be a great follower,his style is somewhere between MIKE OLDFIELD's diversity and Jean-Luc Payssan's (from MINIMUM VITAL) harmonic playing,he is also responsible for the basses,harps an mandolins heard throughout.Beauty queen Magdalena Hagberg (R.I.P.) lends her sensitive vocal chors in some tracks to make the album very story-telling.It is of great pleasure to realize that this album has nothing to do with other Tolkien-related projects which tend to be rather cheesy at the end,''Bilbo'' holds some very passionate music full of tension and elegant calmness.

This first collaboration between these two talented guys ended succesfully and the aim of this album is almost fullfilled.I am not totally overblown by ''Bilbo'',but this is really a great record closer to the likes of a Progressive Rock fan than a Tolkien-addicted type of listener,and that's a good thing in my books.Strongly recommended,3.5 stars.

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