Isildurs Bane - Sagan Om Den Irl?ndska ?lgen & Sagan Om Ringen

Year of Release: 1992
Label: Svenska Unikum/Isildur Records HB
Catalog Number: SUCD 392
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:21:00

My initial expectations of what Isildurs Bane would sound like were based on their name - neo prog like the many other bands that used Tolkien as a basis for their name. But, later, by expectations changed, based merely on the titles of Mind Vol. 1 and Mind Vol. 2: Live, and the upcoming Screenplay, were of a very arty band not unlike King Crimson. Not necessarily Crimson like stylistically, but in intent. That is - progressive in the strictest sense. This impression remained despite the reviews we've published here of those titles. Now, I realize that Isildurs Bane have been making music for many, many years now, and these titles under review are from early in their career, but it was a surprise to listen to Sagan Om Den Irlänska Älgen (1981) and Sagan Om Ringen (1982) (here on a 2 on 1 version) and hear a symphonic band - though closer to what I originally expected.

I find their strongest material is the instrumental music. That isn't to say that vocalists Mats Johansson and Mats Nilsson are bad vocalists - I actually do like the way they sing. But the whole instrumental interplay is what attracts me to this band.

I find Isildurs Bane's sound, here at least, to have a bit of a UK prog influence as well as an Italian prog influence, which may be more as an inherent part of the style versus any nationalistic characteristic. Whereas UK prog -- and yes, in a way, I'm talking about that which is dubbed "neo-prog" -- is guitar and keyboard oriented, so too is Isildurs Bane. I mean, with the opening notes of "Overtyr" can you help but not think of Marillion or Jadis, for example? And then flutes are thrown in, something I think of as an Italian (and French) prog characteristic (though certainly by no means exclusively). Mats Nilsson has that flowing style that I so love, cascading notes that are emotive. "Overtyr" is bright and upbeat - perhaps surprising for a band from Sweden, excepting The Flower Kings, where the other major musical products are dark metal bands or dark, angular bands. Isildurs Bane then becomes, in a way, an anomaly. Mallets (Jan Severinsson and Kjell Severinsson) give "Saga Eller Verklighet" a quality with relatively few parallels in prog. As an aside, I find parts of "Ove P" strangely reminiscent of the music from the US TV series "LA Law," where the keyboards are concerned (though I'm absolutely certain it's just coincidence).

"Sex Minuter" is a very different piece, being a bit more percussive than what precedes it, drums (Kjell) and mallets in the lead role. "Marlboro Blues" is cool jazz with warm saxophone (Bengt Johansson), the drive of grinding bass (Ingvar "Lingon" Johansson ), drums, and percussion , and a, despite the word "blues" in the title, very upbeat. It has a very modern jazz feel to it and a dozen artists come to mind, both in and out of the jazz genre -- and yet I'm hesitant to pin them down as sounding like anyone in particular. Needless to say, though, given my strong like of jazz and especially the sax, this track is one of the album's highlights for me. I'd say "love jazz" but implies a level of expertise in the genre that I don't have - I know what I like, though, and this is it.

This is followed up by the moody "Fredrik," which is filled with the shadowy shapes of floaty keys, musing bass, sparse percussion, and various other accents. There are some wheezy keyboard accents that seem a little thin and...subpar, but the rest of the track is sparkling.

And then it's on to Sagan Om Ringen - an interpretation of The Lord Of The Rings, not surprising given the bands name, which itself refers to "the ring" in the Tolkien saga. This also opens with an "Overtyr," but unlike that which opened Sagan Om Den Irländska Älgen (The Legend Of The Irish Elk), this is more symphonic and lush, though those beautiful guitar lines of Nilsson are present. There is an overall more folky feel; more open and expansive arrangements, where keys create floaty beds of sound. Birds chirping can be heard throughout "Gamla Skogen," "Tom Bombadill" is a jaunty, upbeat tune with tootling guitar coming in contrast to bouncy bass lines, pulsing drums, shimmering percussion with flute and mallet accents. "Vidstige" has what I think of as Levin-like bass lines from Ingvar -- deep, throaty, and moody. Throbbing drums and percussion are featured on "Moria," coming across as like something from Stomp or from The Blue Man Group.

While there were folks at this year's NEARfest who were unimpressed with Isildurs Bane even before they took the stage -- I don't think those folks even stayed to see the band play -- I think that the band has created some marvelous music here. And I'm sure elsewhere, but that's still ahead for me. This a whole lot of what I like and very little of what I don't, which is a damn good balance in my books.

Sagan Om Den Irländska Älgen: Overtyr (5:10) / Saga Eller Verklighet (4:45) / Ove P (3:55) / Sex Minuter (4:05) / En Vilja Att Leva (5:30) / Evighetens Visdom (5:00) / Marlboro Blues (4:20) / Fredrik (4:10) Sagan Om Ringen Overtyr (2:40) / Vandring (5:00) / Gamla Skogen (3:40) / Tom Bombadill (4:23) / Vidstige (3:03) / De Svarta Ryttarna (3:20) / Vattnadal (1:25) / Moria (1:55) / Sällskapets Upplösning (4:00) / Ringarnas Härskare I (2:35) / Ringarnas Härskare II (1:50)

Fredrik Janacek - bass (11, 14, 19)
Bengt Johansson - sax; percussion (16)
Ingvar Johansson - bass; moog (9)
Mats Johansson - keyboard and vocals
Mats Nilsson - guitar and vocals
Jan Severinsson - keyboard, flute and mallets
Kjell Severinsson - drums, percussion; and vocals (16)
Johan Holmberg - cuckoo (11)

Sagan Om Ringen (cass) (1981)
Sagan Om Den Irländska Älgen (LP) (1984)
Sea Reflections (LP) (1985)
Eight Moment Of Eternity (LP) (1987)
Sagan Om Ringen (LP) (1988)
Cheval - Volontè De Rocher (1989)
Sagan Om Den Irländska Älgen / Sagan Om Ringen (1992)
Sea Reflections / Eight Moments Of Eternity (1992)
The Voyage (2CD in small cardboard carrying case + booklet) (1992)
The Zorn Trio Plays Matts Johansson (1996)
Mind Vol. 1 (1997)
The Voyage - Remastered (1998)
Lost Eggs (1999)
Mind Vol. 2 Live (2001)
Mind Vol. 3 (with Metamorfosi Trio) (2003)
Mind Volume 4: Pass (2003)
Songs From The Observatory (2005) Colours Not Found In Nature (with Steve Hogarth) (2017)
Off The Radar (2017)

Mind Volume 5: The Observatory (DVD) (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: July 16th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 614
Language: english


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