Ta Det Lugnt (Subliminal Sounds ’04) Rating: A-
Primarily the work of 24 year old Swedish multi-instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes, this album seamlessly fuses together elements of prog rock, psychedelia, folk, jazz, metal, and pop into one of the best albums of the year (it’s certainly the best non English language album I’ve heard, though that’s admittedly a short list!). There’s nothing earth shatteringly original here other than the fact that it sounds like it should’ve been recorded thirty years ago, but recent bands such as Sigur Ros, The Beta Band, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, and Radiohead come to mind as well, as does Jimi Hendrix as Ejstes’ lets loose with many a Hendrix-influenced guitar explosion. The introductory song, “Panda,” is typical of the album’s strengths, what with its hard-hitting percussion, heavy Hendrixian guitar, and soaring pop melody, which you’ll probably sing along with even if, like I, you don’t know what the heck he’s saying. There are other strong songs with many a sing songy melody, rip roaring guitar solo, and layered, multi-faceted instrumentation (for example, “Lejonet & Kulan” and “Om du Vore en Vakthund ” are boosted by Bitches Brew era keyboards), and there are also several mood enhancing instrumentals that add to the overall experience (the pretty piano piece “Det du Tänker Idag Är du I Morgon" is a perfect fit for a rainy day). But the album peaks in its epic mid-section, as “Du E För Fin För Mig” (8:27) and the title track (7:43) alone feature more creative ideas than most entire albums. The violins on the former add a real air of majesty even before its lovely sing along chorus; a long freakout guitar solo then leads into the also multi-sectioned title track, a difficult to describe masterpiece that has great riffs and fades out with a long jazzy sax-led instrumental section. While we’re at it, “Festival” is also terrific, starting with a sing songy melody that eventually evolves into moody Radiohead-esque atmospherics before winding down with a cute little piano outro. No, this is not top 40 music by any means, and at times the album is perhaps a tad too abstract and studied for its own good, as there are times when Ejstes should’ve kept some of the ingredients out of the blender instead of trying to master such a diverse mishmash of styles. Of course, the album's variety is part of what makes it so consistently interesting and entertaining, so one can easily overlook its flaws since at its best Ta Det Lugnt daringly delivers genuinely exciting and often surprisingly moving music that should be easily enjoyed by all types of adventurous listeners.

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