Various - Nordic Progressive Sampler

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Record Heaven
Catalog Number: n/a; sampler incl with is
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:36:00

Yes, Progression Magazine subscribers, this is the free disk that came with issue #31. I just got my copy (of both, long story) and was so immediately impressed by what I heard that I wanted to highlight some of the bands on here. My hope is to later review the albums concerned in full at some point.

This is not a paid advertisement, not really even an unpaid advertisement, but for those non-subscribers, this is one of the perks. We've had five perks so far. But, the reason to subscribe, of course, is because Progression is an informative quarterly. All the albums are on the Record Heaven label (or at least distributed by).

That said, let's dive in.

The first track on this promo disk is "White Lines On The Freeway" by Five Fifteen. This begins with acoustic guitar and some mixed male/female harmonies (I thought of Belgium's Now, actually) ... there is this slow build and the guitar come up, the drums kick in ... subsides ... then builds again ... and explodes. Add trumpets and other brass instruments (keyboards) ... the tension breaks and chaos ensues. Loopy... swoopy... swirly... keyboards, heavy percussion ... this is really interesting stuff. There is a great dynamic here, a contrast between the calm, ultracalm vocals and the chaotic music. The album is called Six Dimensions Of The Electric Camembert. If there's a quibble ... well, it adds to the dynamic, but ... I think the mix needed to better balanced, as the vocals do get lost...

While I won't reiterate the details from Progression, here are the particulars on Five Fifteen: Finnish band, consisting of Mika Jorvinen on vocals and guitars, Marika Liuski on vocals and percussion, Pekka Laine on guitars, Pate Kivinen on keyboards, Repe Lumikumpu on bass and Jan-Erik Suni on drums. Six is their fourth release.

Qoph is next with "�n Lyser Månen (Nadir 1)", [a piece] sung in Swedish that has a heavy 70s psych/prog feel to it, and is somewhat quirky to me ... well, when you open with vocal wah-wah's mimicing ... trumpets being muted and unmuted is what I thought of ... Interesting, well played. Full of energy. The album is Kaleidoskopiska Aktiviteter.

The band are: Filip Norman on guitar, Federico de Costa on drums, Patrik Persson bass, Jimmy Wahlsteen guitar and mandolin, and Robin Kvist on vocals.

Valinors Tree is up next with a familiar sound ... not a cloned sound, but more in line with progressive rock ... guitar led, though there's the usual accompaniment of bass, drums, keys. In the same spectrum as, say, Tristan Park, Grey Lady Down, etc. Not the strongest of vocalists, tolerable, but a bit off key at times. Has a delivery like Hogarth at times without matching him sonically. I find nothing in particular to latch on to ... it's average. The album and track is Kingdom of Sadness ... the pace and tonal qualities match the theme, as there is a tinge (or so) of mournfulness in the vocals. This does better an an instrumental, as it is for much of its 8 minutes.

The band, who were founded in 1995 as Toy Chest, currently consist of: Ola Sivefoldt on guitar and vocals, Mattias Jarlhed on drums, John Mannmyr on keyboards, and Anders Lindgren on bass ... oh, and it won't really be surprising that their moniker is yet another influenced by Tolkien, even if you haven't read Tolkien.

Track four is "Anagrams Part 1" by Etcetera ... this begins as a very atmopheric, dark, and moody piece - keyboards only. Which then swoops up into the light, joined by drums, guitar and bass. The production is a little muddy, the drums a little tinny ... but the music itself is interesting. There are hints, stylistically, of White Willow when the lyrics begin. There are beautiful, chiming guitar notes here, but the harmonized vocals on the chorus are a bit off ... there are also moments were the music seems to momentarily veer of course (like a warp on an LP ... you remember those, don't you?).

Denmark based Etcetera are comprised of Johnnie McCoy on drums; Anders Kjaerulff on bass; Frank Carvalho on guitars, bass, keyboards, and vocals; and Michael Munch-Hansen on piano and vocals ... the album is entitled Fin De Siecle.

Book Of Hours will appeal to some of the progressive metal persuasion ... although the production again is a little lackluster. The guitars are heavy, and fortunately they avoid the oh so typical now jackhammer drums/guitar thing that I've been taking digs at this week. I wish the mix were better, actually. Because this has a more progressive bent than a metal bent ... no screaming histronics from the vocalist. In that respect, it's more like heavy 70s rock. Some great guitar noises here ... production aside, I like this.

The album's called Art Of The Blind, the track "Infinite" and the band members are Henrik Johansson on drums, Mattias Reinholdsson on bass, Stefan Zell on vocals, and Per Broddesson on guitar.

Zello is/are next ... begining with a violin and somewhat basic drum beat ... there's Celtic feel to it ... great sounding keys, clear, crisp ... and then we have a vocals/violin harmonizing ... the vocals aren't great, but servicable, better than most. Memorable chorus ... I like this. The violin has grabbed me. A little Kansas here ... I'll be investigating this further. See also our "mirrored from DPRP" review of Zello's debut Zello. According to the Progression article, Zello has eschewed guitars in favor of Hammond and electric violin.

The track here is entitled "I Will Be The Wind" and the album, Quodlibet. The band are: P O Saether on vocals; Lennart Glenberg on violi; Anders Altzarfeldt organ, keyboards, and mellotron; Mats Olsson on piano, keyboards, moog, and mellotron, Dan Lindell on bass and Svetlan Raket on drums and percussion. (... how fitting that the drummer's name is Raket [presuming it's pronounced like racket -ed.]...)

"Fall Of Spring" by Galleon follows. Marillioneque musically at the beginning, ... towards the beginning, actually, because there's a guitar thing that starts the track that isn't Marillioneque ... this is really more characteristic of Arena. There's that heaviness to the instruments here that Arena have ... not heavy like prog metal, ... by heavy I mean ... thick, dark. This does have, however, some progressive metal tendencies, too. Not quite as crunchy as Dream Theater, say ... I guess Arena if they took a metal bent. It would be just a bit too mellow for progressive metal fans and a little too heavy for typical neo-progressive fans. Falling into the middle as I do, I think I'll try checking out the rest of the disk, King Of Aragon.

Galleon are: Micke Varn (guitars and flute), Goran Fors (vocals, bass, bass pedals, and keyboards), Dan Fors (drums and percussion), and Ulf Pettersson (keyboards).

Think Yes around the 90125 period and the intro to "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" specifically; think Jethro Tull circa "Aqualung" ... mix 'em together, heavier on the Tull and you'll have Lucifer Was. Yes, it's the flute thing mostly, but the bite of the guitars, the whole rhythm is so very classic Tullish. There's also an almost Celtic feel like Tempest here, too ... though the vocalist doesn't have the voice that Leif Sorbye does. But I like this, and will add it to the growing list. By the way, according to the blurb here ... well, there ... in the magazine ... this was recorded (released?) in the mid 70s ... but there's another album in the works called In Anadis Bower.

The name of the sampled track is "Teddy's Sorrow", the album Underground And Beyond and the band were: Thore Engen on guitars and vocals, Einar Bruu on bass, Kai Frilseth on drums, Dag Stenseng on flute and vocals, and Anders Sevaldson handling flute as well, and background vocals.

With its somewhat whimsical beginning, Grovjobb's "Lokomotiv" made me think of late 60s/early 70s rock with mid-70s bass line thrown in. Um ... think "Shake Your Groove Thing" here folks for the bass, and then add a spritely flute, dark guitars and almost absent percussion and this is what this mishmash sounds like. Likeable, but not loveable. You'll dig it, man, as it's got that psych groove. I can almost see the image we all have of the 60s - the summer of love, Woodstock ... it's all in there, man. This is where prog started, one branch ... interesting stuff ... but maybe too nostalgic.

Grovjobb are Jerry Johansson on guitar, Jesper Jarold on bass, Simon Krarup Jensen on flute and Ola W Jensen on drums.

Violins must a big Nordic thing, as this is the second or third track here to employ them (competing with flutes and blokes named Anders). This being Ensemble Nimbus with "Trial Of Error." I like this ... makes me think of a darker ... maybe darker ... Minimum Vital ... the earlier days. Maybe of other French progressives ... if Musea released this, I wouldn't be surprised. I'll be adding this, as this is great! All instrumental ... at least this track is ... I'm thinking of Gryphon here, too ... clarinets feature, too. I thought I heard a bassoon, but maybe that was keyboard generated ... or it's the bass clarinet.

Ensemble Nimbus are: Hakan Almkvist (guitar, bass, keyboards, tapes, loops, effects, and voice), Hasse Bruniusson (drums, percussion, and computers), Kirk Chilton (violin), Stefan Karlsson (keyboards), and Lars Bjork (clarinet, bass clarinet, altered clarinet, and loops).

Hmm ... a little softshoe ... (that is hushed, brushed drums), a little banjo, and a little ... bassoon? Again? No, ... keys this time ... This is more experimental music ... some found sounds ... you know, having fun with your electronics, playing with the output ... that kind of thing. All to an overall beat that Laurence Welk might have enjoyed ... (um ... I had grandparents) ... This comes courtesy of Mats & Morgan and their track "Sockeplast" from Trends And Other Diseases

Mats & Morgan are Mats Oberg on keyboards, vocals, and harmonica and Morgan Agren on drums, Jimmy Agren on guitar, mandolin, and vocals, Erik Carlsson on keyboards and accordian), and Tommy Thorsdsson on bass and melodica.

And then with a big sound, swirly keys, driving drums we get a neo-prog sound from Grand Stand ... think Styx, think maybe Marillion, ... Pendragon ... all rolled into one. Early Genesis, maybe ... no vocals here .... interesting sonics, mainly keyboard led. This is great stuff, really, even if it is familiar. The album's called In The Middle, On The Edge ... no Yes, but I might just hear a little Wakeman in there. The track is called "Condor"

Filling the Grand Stand are Tomas Hurtig on drums, Olav Andersson on keyboards, Michael Rank Jensen playing guitar and providing backing vocals and Clarence Thunborg on bass and vocals, though neither of the latter two are on this track or the album.

Björn Johansson is next ... starting off a bit new agey with substance, there's more heft here than a lot of new age music ... keys have a full sound ... this is rich ... lots of sonic elements to get your ears into ... washes, arpeggios ... think, actually, some of the intrumental parts of both early Genesis, but more specificially early Marillion - the Script year. Tull influences creep in with a bit of flute ... Hammond pops in ... Floyd like bass ... it fades out far too soon. Yup ... gotta get the disk.

Just Björn here ... but he's played with Par Lindh, according to Progression, and plans to continue doing so. "The Last Minstrel Of Marble" is the track from his debut album Discus Ursis.

And finally Cross, who start off with a big sound like Grand Stand ... but it quickly becomes heavy ... verging on metal ... and just when you think you're gonna get Dream Theater like dual guitar crunch, it downshifts to ... interesting but not exactly listenable vocals ... why is that that almost always kills it for me? Don't know that I could listen to it often. Accent has nothing to do with it, as there seems to be very little. Musically, I like this ... vocally, I don't.

Cross are Hansi Cross (guitar and vocals), Lollo Andersson (bass), Robert Iverson (drums), and Olle Siljeholm (keyboards). The track is called "Take Off", the album Visionary Fools.

Five Fifteen - 'White Lines Of The Freeway' (5:43) / Qoph - 'N Lyser Mnen (Nadir 1)' (5:43) / Valinors Tree - 'Kingdom of Sadness' (8:00) / Etcetera - 'Anagrams Part 1' (5:30) / Book of Hours - 'Infinite' (5:36) / Zello - 'I Will Be the Wind' (4:45) / Galleon - 'Fall of Spring' (5:39) / Lucifer Was - 'Teddy's Sorrow' (3:09) / Grovjobb - 'Lokomotiv' (3:56) / Ensemble Nimbus - 'Trial of Error' (4:42) / Mats & Morgan - 'Sockeplast' (3:21) / Grand Stand - 'Condor' (4:39) / Bjorn Johansson - 'The Last Minstrel of Marble' (3:43) / Cross - 'Take Off' (6:36) /

Five Fifteen
Valinors Tree
Book Of Hours
Lucifer Was
Ensemble Nimbus
Mats & Morgan
Grand Stand
Bj?rn Johansson


Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: August 23rd 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1235
Language: english


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