Intro: Petros Papadogiannis
Translation: Niki Nikolakaki
03 / 03 / 2016
It turns out that as prepared as one may be for the surprises the underground scene gives us, there will always be something that appears out of nowhere and causes surprise, even to a small portion of listeners. In this particular case, we are dealing with an album released only through digital form for the time being. The physical form of the album follows, or at least we hope that some record company will claim to release it in the form it is worth.
Sufficient information for that release has not been released on the internet. The song titles are in Swedish, the line-up of the band is omitted until a random survey with which we found out that the band comes from Sweden. The mystery has nothing to do with the marketing gimmicks, but with the true underground character of the Swedes.
The future with a recipe from the past
Skog Under Jord, which means “Underworld Forest”, as depicted in the excellent and peculiar cover, is the debut for this Swedish band consisting of members aged up to 30 years old. It is shocking that so young musicians are involved in this prog / psych masterpiece “yelling” their Scandinavian origin, not only because of the song titles but also because of the nature of their music. These musicians are engaged academically and professionally with jazz in various projects which is apparent in the special style encountered by technically flawless musicians.
The orchestration includes drums, two guitars, bass and hammond. Yes, this is an instrumental album which consists of two compositions, Snö och Mossa (En stig Kantrad Av Faror) meaning “Snow and moss (a path bordered by risk)” and Under Låga Moln (En Vindlande Väg Genom Hemliga riken), which translates into “Under low clouds (a windy road among secret areas).” Lengthy compositions, both lasting longer than 17 and 19 minutes respectively, where rhythms and speeds alternate, and each part hides a nice acoustic surprise.
References of sound should be made to Fläsket Brinner and Kvartetten Som Sprängde, while contemporary influences by Øresund Space Collective, Änglagård and Agusa should be added as well, all of them coming from Sweden. However, I believe that these bands are not a straight influence of Skog Under Jord. The second composition is shining and outweighs the first (also great) one, and is definitely one of the best in recent years, regardless of any music genre.
On the two supposed sides of the vinyl progressive music is deified, as it had been presented in the twilight of the ’70s. Only the production of the album witnesses that this is the work of our days. If the album had actually been released in that time from a known band it would be commemorated to this day, while if it had been released from an unrecognized one, the vinyl would be sold at exorbitant prices and would adorn every record collection of the followers of obscure prog sound. Imperative to listen, among the best releases of this year at least.
9 / 10
The debut of Skog Under Jord is a hidden gem in the contemporary underground rock scene. The prog / psych of the Swedes is based on pure jamming character, with amazing flow and development and fiery changes. The typical dark melodiousness of the Nordic prog of the 70s reigns in both epics that make up this amazing album, while the lovely folk tint on “Under Låga Moln (En Vindlande Väg Genom Hemliga riken)” is the element that brings stardust to a great achievement. The atmosphere is mildly evocative and the development of the piece simply masterful, managing with great ease to travel every listener on a ‘windy trip to secret areas’ as described by the title. I’m trying to remember the last time everything was so perfect in an album with two one-side songs. I honestly don’t remember.
9 / 10