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AFENGINN

RIO/Avant-Prog • Denmark


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Afenginn biography
AFENGINN are an adventurous Danish avant-garde klezmer band who formed in 2002. The name itself means "intoxication and strength" in Old Norse. They have a strong punk, Nordic folk and world music influence and since the release of "Akrobakkus", have taken on jazz influences as well. The group are categorised by the musical press as a "'bastard-ethno' band with Norse melancholy and cheerful madness" and they are not far off with this definition. AFENGINN feature a drummer/percussionist and a bass player but adopt the more common klezmer band instruments of clarinet, violin, mandolin and mandola. The strong bass rhythm on many of the compositions adds a more rock-oriented feel to the music and their unorthodox approach and time signatures make them appealing to not only progressive music fans, but also those who enjoy jazz and (ethnic and gypsy) folk music.

The main collaborator for AFENGINN is Finnish mandolin and mandola player Kim Nyberg, a student of Musicology at the University of Copenhagen, who brings in that Finnish feel to Afenginn's music. He is ably assisted by Rasmus Krøyer on clarinet (also studying Musicology at the University of Copenhagen, but also previously a student of Lee Morgan of the Royal Danish Orchestra), Niels Skovmand on violin (educated at The Royal Danish Academy of Music), Rune Kofoed on drums/percussion and Aske Jacoby on bass. They are influenced by such acts as KAIZERS ORCHESTRA, ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT, TOM WAITS, TIGER LILLIES and GOGOL BORDELLO and have performed alongside Frank London from the KLEZMATICS.

They released their debut album "Retrograd" (featuring many guest musicians) in 2004 to critical acclaim from the press, receiving many nominations and several awards including "Best World Album" at the 2005 Danish World Music Awards.

In 2006, they released their second album "Akrobakkus" which again proved to be a critical success, reaching the World Music charts in Europe in February 2007. Musically, it continues on from where "Retrograd" left off, with their usual stylistics and good humour. However, during the release party for "Akrobakkus", Andrzej Krejniuk (the original Polish-born bass player) decided to leave the band and a secret vote was taken to choose his replacement. Aske Jacoby was chosen as his successor and their sound has now taken on a more jazz-tinged direction.

In 2008, AFENGINN released their third album "Reptilica Polaris" which takes on a different style than thei...
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Buy AFENGINN Music


OpusOpus
CD Baby 2016
$14.54
$18.05 (used)
AkrobakkusAkrobakkus
CD Baby 2016
$9.99
$12.77 (used)
Lux by AfenginnLux by Afenginn
Westpark Access
$79.85
Bastard EtnoBastard Etno
TUTL 2011
$15.99
$11.20 (used)
Reptilica PolarisReptilica Polaris
2008 TUTL 2011
$15.99
$54.17 (used)
RetrogradRetrograd
CD Baby 2016
$8.99
$4.99 (used)

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AFENGINN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

AFENGINN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 16 ratings
Retrograd
2004
4.18 | 23 ratings
Akrobakkus
2006
4.05 | 12 ratings
Reptilica Polaris
2008
3.19 | 8 ratings
Bastard Etno
2009
4.06 | 16 ratings
Lux
2013
4.68 | 10 ratings
OPUS
2016
3.95 | 2 ratings
Klingra
2019

AFENGINN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

AFENGINN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

AFENGINN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

AFENGINN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

AFENGINN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Klingra by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Klingra
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Afenginn is the project from the Finnish musician and respected Scandnavian folklorist Kim Nyberg, which was created in 2002. The music is an eccentric style that combines elements of rock, jazz and folk, utilizing instruments from each of the styles, including mandolin, violin, clarinet and so on. The project is not necessarily a one-man show, however, as there is always a collection of musicians involved in the band that have collaborated with the project through time.

The 7th album released by the project is called "Klingra" and was released in October of 2019. Nyberg is the composer and arranger for the music on the album, however, lineup consists of 9 other musicians and the Danish String Quartet. Olavur Jakupsson provides the lead vocals, and along with him there are pianos, violin, trombone, steel guitar, bass, drums and percussion. The album consists of 8 tracks and has a total run time of just under 43 minutes.

The twinkling sounds of the pianos start off the album on the track "Skjalvtin (The Impact)" (6:50). The music swells when the strings come in and soon the crashes of cymbals roll in and out. Vocals come in after 2 minutes, the voice is quite pleasant and fits with the soft instrumentals. The track continues in soft beauty, and becomes more suspended when the vocals switch to spoken word. When this stops, the music swells again with a beautiful orchestral sound, then it calms to the original pensiveness of the pianos. "Litmer (The Colours)" (4:25) carries the piano motif forward, becoming softer as the distant cries of a violin sound off. The sound is lonely and expansive, thoughtful and sparse, and the harmonies are all traditional and the music is melodic. Later, hesitant percussion joins in, but not in any rhythmic way. "Himnakropparnir (Celestial Bodies)" (3:41) begins as the music continues to flow into this track and the percussion finds its soft and constant rhythm, the pianos come together melodically, and a steel guitar sounds off. Vocals begin again with layered lines that break off into supporting melodic counterpoint. The strings build up the intensity bringing in the brass and strengthening the drums. Everything quickly backs off in the final seconds leaving only pianos again, and the constant flowing of the last three tracks comes to an end.

"Ivin (The Doubt)" (5:46) begins with constant, busy percussion playing along quietly with keys and piano, evoking a slightly tribal feeling, but not in any overpowering way as the music remains pensive and soft. The piano still carries the melodic side of the music as rolling drums, synths and strings slowly increase the intensity, level off, and float along peacefully. There is a sudden swell and the music moves into "Vitin (The Lighthouse)" (6:25). The strings now carry the music forward, the cello provides a smooth bass, and single, heavy notes from the bass guitar make this sound almost like an old western. The percussion disappears and the strings keep the music flowing as the bass thumps out single notes. Close your eyes and drift along. Halfway through, the only instruments playing are the strings as even the bass fades away. A sudden crash of cymbal and drums marks the beginning of "Skapanin (The Creation)" (4:39) as the strings continue bringing in sparse percussion and allowing the pianos to take over again. The music has a more rhythmic sense to it which is made more apparent as the percussion becomes louder and chords mark the beat. The pedal steel guitar returns with soft cries, the brass makes itself heard in sublte tones, but suddenly the drums become louder and louder, and the music swells to a sudden heaviness, and then backs off leaving single notes from the piano.

"Tokkin (The Thanking)" (3:55) starts off immediately with the vocals finally returning, at first with no accompaniment, and then joined by soft piano and strings. The violin and piano take over when the vocals allow for a short break, then they return later becoming more emotional towards the end. "Eftirskjáltvin (The Aftershock)" (7:14) carry on with the simple piano motif, the music very sparse amd pensive again. Soft cries from the pedal steel guitar sound off in the distance, and soon the strings start to build. Vocals come in again before the 3 minute mark. A sudden swell from the percussion brings in the fullness of the band in a beautiful orchestral build as the vocals continue. The sound becomes more cinematic and somewhat dramatic. A sudden hit from the percussion stops the instruments except for a few more remaining vocals and then a distant, lone piano takes it quietly to the end.

The music on this album is very orchestral, yet mostly sparse and soft. It is very relaxing for the most part, but also has enough dynamic sections that will bring you temporarily out of your reverie with emotion, and then quickly returns to the more sparse sounds. It is all very melodic, with the dual pianos providing most of the melodic touches, the constant force that drives the soft music forward. Harmonies use traditional chord structures so that the music never becomes dissonant, thus there are few distractions to its overall beauty. The music is well composed and arranged, the only drawback being just a personal taste issue on my part, wishing for more powerful sections at times, but still finding it quite enjoyable and meditative overall. Music like this sometimes runs the risk of becoming too "new age" sounding, but this is not the case here as it sounds more classically inclined more than in a jazz style. It's probably similar to Debussy's style, reflective and flowing, but instead sounding more sparse and linear than the classical composer. It's quite a lovely album, mostly relaxing and calm, yet still dynamic enough to throw in some surprises. Easily 4 stars.

 OPUS by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.68 | 10 ratings

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OPUS
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by madcap68

5 stars Well, not really a prog rock masterpiece, but a masterpiece, nonetheless! This wonderful Danish band started out with quite another kind of music, but mind you, that wasn't prog rock, neither ;-) On their first (3 or 4) records, they offered a wild mix of klezmer, Balkan and/or gypsy music, polka (humppa anyone) and what not. On Lux and on this, indeed, Opus the mix might still be wild, but the music really isn't. There are still many folk traces left, but the classical or neo-classical influences are much more dominant.

The opus is divided into 4 parts (or two CDs or four LP halves), which are nominally split into smaller pieces, but these tend to flow seamlessly into each other. Thus, it takes quite some listening sessions to really get into the music, but that's well worth the effort. Melodies and rhythmical finesse abound, and Afenginn main man Kim Rafael Nyberg is a master of arrangements. Very colorful, very idiosyncratic, very, very good!

 Akrobakkus by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.18 | 23 ratings

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Akrobakkus
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by raigor

5 stars Released in 2006 via independent record-label Tutl, "Akrobakkus" is the sophomore album by the Danish Avant-Prog-Rock group AFENGINN. The music is all instrumental, except of very few fragments featuring voices in Danish, and has very strong Klezmer, Gypsy, Balkan, Norse Folk, and Jazz-Fusion. There is no rock-guitarist in the line-up ? the major soloing instruments in arrangements are mandolin (performed by Kim Nyberg who is also the main composer for the band), violin (by Niels Skovmand), and clarinet (by Rasmus Krøyer). While these instruments create amazingly colorful, intense, and often humorous melodic ornaments, the rhythm-section (drums by Rune Kofoed, bass by Andrzej Krejniuk) tends to be more Prog-Rock oriented. The ensemble creates originally imaginative pieces and sometimes takes more challenging avant-garde approach to traditional musical structures, yet never loosing rhythmic and melodic finesse. The musicianship and sound production are wonderful, and this 62-minute album featuring 11 tunes is good fun-art from front to back. Highly recommended!
 Lux by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.06 | 16 ratings

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Lux
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars When I went over onto their Bandcamp site to see how they described their music themselves, I see that Danish group Afenginn call themselves 'world', 'ambient', 'contemporary', 'classical', 'folk' and 'Nordic' while PA list them as RIO/avant-prog. I actually think that there is a great deal of jazz in what they are doing and if I had to force them into a musical pigeonhole that is where I would put them. But, as you can see there is a lot going on and they don't really fit anywhere. The band themselves comprise Rasmus Kr'yer (clarinet, bass clarinet, contra bass clarinet), Niels Skovmand (violin), Kim Rafael Nyberg (mandolin), Erik Olevik (contrabass) and Rune Kofoed (drums, percussion) while they also have guests in Bent Clausen (marimba, vibraphone, waterphone, percussion), Mads Hyhne (trombone) and Nikolaj Busk who provides grand piano on 'Autumnus Elegia'. Kim Rafael Nyberg composed all of the music, which to my ears is somewhat strange as the mandolin rarely takes centre stage. I am also a little surprised that Bent is just a guest, as his marimba playing is key to the overall sound.

In many ways these guys come across as a highly orchestrated jazz group, with everyone knowing their part and playing it to the full. It is an album that is incredibly hard to describe as in many ways it is quite different to anything I have heard before, although Robin Taylor and possibly Frank Zappa did come to mind as potential influences (and give that Robin is also Danish and has been prolific over quite a long period I would think that this could be quite possible). Certainly, if you enjoy the more structured Robin Taylor's Universe then this could well be for you. This is something that one should definitely hear before listening, but luckily it is possible to do just that at their bandcamp site, so why not visit afenginn.bandcamp.com/album/lux and see if this is for you. I found it polished and intriguing and am certainly pleased that it came my way.

 Akrobakkus by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.18 | 23 ratings

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Akrobakkus
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The second album from Afenginn really establishes their sound.

Afenginn is listed in PA as avant-garde/RIO. Which they truly are. Their sound and music is a mix of Balkan, Finnish, Faroe Islands and Scandinavian folk music + jazz. That and a great deal of cheerful insanity. This is music to laugh and party at. The soundtrack for a night out in the midnight sun at a campfire while eaten by midges and drinking too much locally produced 80 % proof moonshine. So yes, this is party music and Afenginn has toured Scandinavia with this music. Let me add; with great success.

There are some interesting details in the music too which means it can be enjoyed in peace and quiet too. Played live, I may appreciate the music more though. Any chance for a live album, guys ?

The music here is good throughout without really firing me up to the great joys. My gripe with this album is the lack of some really signature, killer tracks. It kinds of get to the point when I find the music too familiar and not exciting enough. But this is still a good album, well worth checking out.

3 stars

 Bastard Etno by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.19 | 8 ratings

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Bastard Etno
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Bastard Etno" is the 4th full-length studio album by Danish avant garde/ethnic folk music act Afenginn. The album was released through the TUTL label in Denmark in November 2009 and in january 2010 through Westpark Music in the rest of the world. The album features both new tracks and re-recorded tracks from the bandīs first three studio albums.

The title of the album pretty much says everything about the musical content. The style of music on the album is a mix of several ethnic traditional styles, classical chamber music and a touch of avant garde. Traditional styles of the Balkan and the melancholy of Scandinavian folk are represented here. The instrumentation on the album include Klarinettes, Violin, Mandolin, Mandocello, bass, drums and percussion. This means that the sound on the album is very organic and warm. A very pleasant sound, which suits the music perfectly. The band vary their style and there are both fast played parts and more subtle melancholic parts on the album. The music is fully instrumental save for a few shouts here and there.

Compared to the bandīs last album "Reptilica Polaris (2008)" which featured a grand choir as one of the dominant musical elements, this album is a much more down to earth experience, but that also means that itīs not as original as itīs predecessor. To my ears thatīs a bit of a shame. With all the re-recorded versions of older tracks "Bastard Etno" works a bit like a "best of" compilation and less like an original studio album, and while the re-recorded versions certainly are enjoyable I would have preferred to hear completely new tracks. Still "Bastard Etno" is undeniably a quality release and while Iīm not as excited about the album as I was about the two direct predecessors a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.

 Reptilica Polaris by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 12 ratings

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Reptilica Polaris
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars An album from Afenginn........ what can I say ?

This band is operating on the weirdo side of the Avant-Garde genre. Weird in the form of their sound and music. The cover art-work really says it all. A frog taking a ride on the top of a whale. I cannot stop smiling.

The music......

Afenginn has a morbid fascination for the 1970s and the male Russian choirs from that time. The ones we in Scandinavia was force fed on by our TV/Radio companies during that time by some broadcasters with dubious political orientations. This whole album reeks 1975, in my opinion. Take the Russian male choirs and add some chamber orchestra to it. Then make them perform a blend of folk music from Balkan and Scandinavia with some country & western, gypsy music, jazz, chamber music and normal choir music too. In other words; a contradiction tapped onto a record.

The strange thing is that Reptilica Polaris actually works well on all levels. It has an x-factor which makes me listen to this album over and over again for reasons I do not know. Maybe it is the zeuhl like rhythms. Maybe it is the woodwinds. Maybe it is the male choir. Maybe it is the songs. But I really like this album a lot and I recognize it for what it is; a great musical experience. Hence my four stars.

4 stars

 Retrograd by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.16 | 16 ratings

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Retrograd
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

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

 Reptilica Polaris by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 12 ratings

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Reptilica Polaris
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Reptilica Polaris is the third full length studio album from Danish avant garde act Afenginn. From the first notes itīs unmistakably Afenginn youīre listening to, but keep listening and youīll soon be surprised, because Afenginn has incorporated a new and very different element into their sound on Reptilica Polaris which means that it stands out from their first two albums Retrograd from 2004 and Akrobakkus from 2006.

Retrograd was a crazy bastard of an album. Strange and mostly uptempo avant garde songs with both ethnic Scandinavian and Balkan folk elements. Youīll also find jazz and classical chamber music elements on that album. Itīs almost fully intrumental. Akrobakkus holds the same elements but adds a melancholic and beautiful touch to Afenginnīs music. Iīm very fond of both of those albums. The intrumentation is very organic. Intruments like clarinet, Violin, mandolin, mandocello and various sort of percussion are very prominant in the soundscape.

The new element Afenginn adds to their sound on Reptilica Polaris is a big choir. Itīs a significant change to their sound but what a powerful and sometimes symphonic element. Reptilica Polaris is a concept album and all songs seque into each other and form a long suite. The choir also means that there are actual lyrics on the album. The lyrics are a hilarious mix of latin and Danish ( maybe a bit of English too) and showcase Afenginnīs great humour. The music is mostly melancholic ( which is a strange contrast to the hilarious lyrics), but the uptempo folky balkan parts still appear in songs like Iguana Segregatis and Massacre Gnu allthough they are not as dominant a part of Afenginnīs music as they used to be. Another new feature in Afenginnīs music appears in Hosianna Reinkarnator which for the first time as far as I can remember has ordinary drums.

Thereīs a change to the lineup compared to the lineup on Akrobakkus from 2006 as bassist Andrzej Krejniuk has left Afenginn. He is replaced by Aske Jacoby on Reptilica Polaris. Aske Jacoby is one of the most prolific session musicians in Denmark. He has played with bands like News, C.V. Jørgensen, Sanne Salomonsen, Thomas Helmig, Kasper Winding and Danseorkesteret ( all famous Danish artists). According to his wiki page he has participated on more than two houndred albums since 1979. He usually plays guitar but he plays bass on Reptilica Polaris. The rest of the musicians are outstanding too. Composer Kim Nyberg needs to be given a special mention for his excellent compositional skills.

The production is beautiful and organic. One of the better productions Iīve heard in a while.

I have to mention the beautiful cover artwork on Reptilica Polaris too. A strange picture of a reptile riding a whale says a lot about the humour on this album, but the deep blue colours also tell you about the melancholic side of the music. Seldom has a cover been more suiting IMO.

Reptilica Polaris is an excellent album. This is not hard to access avant garde with strange dissonant sounds and weird time signatures. Reptilica Polaris is actually a pretty melodic album and even though itīs very challenging I think itīs fairly easy to access. This is a well deserved BIG 4 star rating. Challenge yourself with something unusual and give Reptilica Polaris a chance. It certainly deserves the attention. We can expect even greater things from Afenginn in the future.

 Akrobakkus by AFENGINN album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.18 | 23 ratings

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Akrobakkus
Afenginn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Akrobakkus is the second studio album from Danish act Afenginn. Afenginn is a weird bunch and their music is a mix of genres like avant garde rock, ethnic balkan and Scandinavian folk, jazz ( the kind thatīs played in old silent movies) and chamber music. Add lots of humour and you have yourself a pretty unique cocktail. I reviewed Afenginnīs debut album Retrograd a couple of weeks ago and I was pretty impressed and thought it was a great album but I wasnīt really sure if I found it excellent. It lacked some variation IMO. Akrobakkus has just that and itīs a very dynamic album with both crazy up-tempo tracks and more calm beautiful chamber music influenced songs.

Songs like Ralli I D-Mol and Terror Humppa are really up-tempo and fun songs while my favorite the beautiful and moving Fotonen and Valse Melankolika shows the softer side of Akrobakkus to great effect. This is not your average avant garde rock band with strange time signatures and dissonant sounds. The music is very melodic and memorable. Itīs still very challenging though and it took my a couple of listens to appreciate. The music is mostly instrumental but there are a few choir parts where various members of the band shout and make noises.

The musicianship is excellent. The five musicians play instruments like mandolin, mandocello, harmonium, clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, violin, viola, bass and drums and most sing choir too. The music has a very organic sound as a result of the choice of instruments.

The production is wonderful. The emphasis is on an organic sound and every instrument is right in the mix.

Akrobakkus has really captured my attention and Iīll definitely give Retrograd another spin to see if itīs grown on me since the last time I listened to it. If you like music with a happy mood but with time for more serious moments as well Akrobakkus could be your thing. I think itīs highly recommendable and unique. It certainly deserves all the 4 stars Iīll rate it.

Thanks to James for the artist addition.

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