Thursday, September 22, 2016

Music Review - Anekdoten - Until All The Ghosts Are Gone

I haven't felt the need to go back to this one in the last year... it kinds creeps me out.

So there I was, minding my own business, when a knock came upon my chamber door. "Who are you?" I asked. "Anekdoten. We've been around since 1993, though our last album was in 2007," was the reply. "Never heard of ya. Show me what ya got." Ever compliant, the nice Swedes set up their gear and launched into “Shooting Star,” the first track off their new album Until All The Ghosts Are Gone. Ten minutes long, this nearly instrumental track was propelled by hard-edged psychedelic rock organs, at times drawing from the well of King Crimson’s Red album and other times throwing a bone to fellow Swedes Opeth, now and then throwing a loving glance at Machine Head-era Deep Purple. It was some good stuff, feeding the brain and the soul, I tells ya, and I instantly wanted to shop at Ikea. As that was a road trip I couldn’t afford to take, I set up a folding chair to get comfortable and asked them to play me another song.

They obliged. “Get Out Alive” has a stoner rock feel but with a psychedelic twist, kind of like 70s Black Sabbath meets Black Moth Super Rainbow. Maybe there’s a little Super Furry Animals in there also. The combination of gutsy, distorted guitars and clear cinematic strings pulsing through a well-conceived song development cycle was absolutely hypnotic, beautiful even, in a bleak kind of way. “If It All Comes Down To You” cranks up the mellotron flute sound, as much as a flute can be cranked, layering in billows of clean electric guitars and vibraphone, creating an expansive, airy cloud of a song that made me think more than once of the subtle yet epic compositions of Oceansize, lots of tension and very little release. I applauded and this encouraged the band to continue, launching in “Writing on the Wall,” a more aggressive song starting with gritty bass guitar, orchestral strings, very few vocals, and a powerful, insistent finale. Like their other songs, despite there being a lot going on the overall feel was soothing and I had the feeling that if I listened to their music with headphones and a black light there would be no need for any chemical enhancements to achieve a satisfying head trip. As no one in the band had brought their black lights they instead played “Our Days Are Numbered”, starting with vibraphone and flute to set a comforting tone before dropping the floor out via a creepy section that morphed directly into a dense, heavy rock feel with a tumble of drums and a twisty bass line. Five minutes of adventurous, intense rock later the band dips into a dreamy section and before I know it I realize that they’ve snuck saxophones into the mix. This builds to a passage that would please any Syd-era Pink Floyd fans, adding in a twitchy rhythm in the drums that only adds to dark, brooding feel of the piece. As the song ends I sit there, stunned, on my lawn chair, impressed that they were able to suck me in so thoroughly on the very first listen. Therein is their genius as the music of Anekdoten is fully grounded in the psychedelic/English progressive music of very early seventies and yet is modern and fresh, both novel and nostalgic. Kudos, melancholy Swedes! You’ve won me over.

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