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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Änglagård: Epilog


1) Prolog; 2) Höstsejd; 3) Rosten; 4) Skogsranden; 5) Sista Somrar; 6) Saknadens Fullhet.

Perhaps if Änglagård continued to carry on well unto the 21st century, even their biggest fans would eventually get bored, leaving them to preserve the purity of their progressive spirit in local progressive strip bars. But they were smart enough to go their own ways upon recording their second LP, which they unambiguously titled Epilog — and thus, ensure at least minor legendary status. «Remember those mysterious Swedish guys going against the grain in the early Nineties? They're, like, so cult, you just got to know them! Prog Annals sacrifice to their memory on a re­gular basis! Sure the music is derivative and crappy, but just listen to that name — Änglagård! Any idea on how to read that funny circle above the third a? Funny chaps, those Swedes!»

Strictly speaking, the music is good, though. In fact, Epilog is objectively better than Hybris at leas in one respect: nobody sings — which is a major advantage, since nobody in the band can sing (guitarist Tord Lindman's several attempts at mimicking the trade almost killed off the po­ten­tial of at least two of Hybris' best numbers). The three lengthy suites that comprise the bulk of the record (the rest are just brief minimalistic links) are completely instrumental and focus exclu­sively on band interplay, which is this band's major — and only — claim to fame.

This and a few other factors contribute to Epilog's slightly more somber mood, although «som­ber» by no means implies «heavy»: the electric guitar is here more than ever subdued to the im­pact of keyboards (Hammonds and Mellotrons, mostly) and especially Anna Holmgren's flute playing, very prominent on all three compositions (those at least as perceptive as myself will easi­ly spot the variation on Peter Gabriel's 'Firth Of Fifth' flute solo in 'Sista Somrar', and those who are more perceptive will probably name several other variations that I have not been able to de­tect). With a few notably aggressive passages cut out, the whole record would form the perfect soundtrack for a funeral service — solemn and sad, but never depressing and desperate.

The bad news is that, just like Hybris, this is all too manneristic. The three suites are located as three separate tracks under three separate titles, but they do not correspond to three different indi­vidualities or purposes — you can easily cut a large chunk out of 'Sista Somrar' and paste it into the middle of 'Höstsejd' and nobody will give a damn, since each of the three is a bunch of copy-pastes in the first place. Build-ups, fade-outs, tender interludes, stormy jams are interspersed with each other almost at random; perhaps a dedicated fan could find perfect Apollonic harmony in all this stuff, but most, I fear, will lack this capacity. Professionalism, intelligence, and sincere dedi­cation combine to make it all perfectly listenable and respectable, but there is no high purpose to Epilog, whatever such a purpose might have surmised.

As a «low-purpose» record, though, it deserves its thumbs up: I mean, it is named Epilog, after all, and it certainly sounds like an epilog — what more can one ask for? Curiously, it is probably the only record in the world named Epilog whose first track is named 'Prolog'. So if you hate its guts, you might still want to own it as a cult and curio piece.

Check "Epilog" (CD) on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. Good point on getting a cult status while quitting right after just two (great) albums. Speaking of prog bands, it was the same case with "UK" and "Asia Minor" - going out of the game at the top, after two great albums each (1978-79 and 1979-1981 respectively).