Review Summary: A great effort by this Swedish act. It has interesting, creative and subtle complex songs.
“Detta Har Hant” is the second studio album of Gösta Berlings Saga and was released in 2009. The line up on the album is Einar Baldursson, David Lundberg, Gabriel Hermansson and Alexander Skepp. The album has also the colaboration of Mattias Olsson and Daniel Fagerstrom as guest musicians.
Gosta Berlings Saga is a Swedish progressive rock band from Stockholm. The foundations for this Swedish band were established back in 2000, as a studio venture for keyboardist David Lundberg and drummer Alexander Skepp. In 2004 they decided to expand their scope and added two more members to become a full fledged band, the guitarist Matthias Danielsson and the bassist Gabriel Hermansson. They issued their debut effort, “Tid Ar Ljud”, in 2006. Three years after their first heralded release, the sophomore production “Detta Har Hant”, was issued. However, between both releases a change occurred in their line up. Guitarist Matthias Danielsson has left the band and was replaced by Einar Baldursson.
Gosta Berlings Saga was named after a Swedish silent film of the same name from 1924, directed by Mauritz Stiller starring Greta Garbo. The film was based on the debut novel written by the Swedish writer Selma Lagerlof. The main character on the novel “Gosta Berlings Saga” is a former pastor, whose further career is told in the novel. She was the first women that received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1909. Since 1991 her picture is on the 20 Swedish Crown bank note. Originally, the band was formed in 2004 with the name Pelikaan but changed their name to Gosta Berlings Saga.
Gosta Berlings Saga makes a unique mix of instrumental progressive rock with some Avant Garde influences. Their music is heavy, dark, hypnotic, melodic and beautiful, all at the same time. It sounds vibrant, self assured, urgent and adventurous with its special Scandinavian touch. Music from bands like King Crimson, Landberk and Anekdoten come to my mind. The song has a dark atmosphere that is present on the most tracks. Their debut album “Tid Ar Ljud” is an instrumental conceptual album that deals with the multi interrelations between the city and the nature, and with the “creatures” that could emerge from them. The hint of the bizarre suggestion in this idea seems to be an “intentional intention”. The band calls itself as “that band your unmarried, childless uncle with that beard and the weird smell likes”.
“Detta Har Hant” is an entirely instrumental album. Whereas their former album had moments that seemed a little more pastoral and symphonic, this latest release seems have a slightly harsher sounding, more angular, more streamlined, and more muscular. Here, the band plays instrumental prog rock in a rather challenging, quirky and innovative variety. The rhythm section provides drive and energy throughout. There are slower passages with a more laid-back approach from time to time. The album sounds vibrant, self assured, urgent and adventurous. Challenging and quirky in nature, ever shifting and evolving themes and passages are served readily and steadily. There is a distinct 70’s feeling present here, but the band combines this with an attitude that is firmly rooted in the here and now, not unlike other new bands which their music it’s more rooted in the past. It also sounds as if the band recorded the album live. So, sounding if it was recorded “live in the studio” with some overdubs added afterwards (most of the keyboard instruments), “Detta Har Hant” delivers eight tracks that range from full blown epic soundscapes via dissonant darkness to minimalistic powerful grooves without compromising when it comes to the strong melodies the band is known for. Indeed, right from the opening “Kontrast” to the stellar closer “Vasterbron 05:30”, incendiary guitar passages and playful RIO inspired melodies, by way of Zeuhl inspired repetitiveness, collide. Although not as symphonic or “keyboard heavy” as their previous album, “Detta Har Hant” still has its moments of pomp, albeit less prevalent than in the past. This album seems more the vehicle for Baldursson’s guitar. His superb guitar leads permeate this recording, most notably during the middle section of the album’s closer, where his fuzzed out guitar leads scorch their way into listener’s own brain.
Conclusion: “Detta Har Hant” is a modern prog rock album with varied influences that goes from dark symphonic rock to jazz, from RIO fragments to space rock harmonies. They can be challenging, but they usually layer simple and repetitive structures that build the way the post rock does. It also comes to my mind the traditional Scandinavian music that reminds me a bit of Anglagard. Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence, the appearance on the album of Mattias Olsson of Anglagard. The album has a raw sounding and it’s centered on a dissonant guitar and melodious keyboards. No vocals required, the music speaks for itself. This is a well balanced album with some intricate sound and very adventurous. So, as a final result we are in presence of a very good album of interesting, creative, and subtlely complex songs. This is an excellent release that deserves a lot of attention, especially from those who enjoy of adventurous instrumental music.
Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)