Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar (1981) + Waiting Paths (2006) (Sweden 2008) [ProgRock] @320

We're always on about '70s prog. Well what about prog in the '80s? Here's a nice example, though it's from the very early in the decade (recorded 1980, released 1981) so it's practically '70s anyway. A rather obscure Swedish outfit called Kultivator, whose sole album Barndomens Stigar (which boasts a b&w engraving on the cover by none other than conceptual artist & experimental musician Leif Elggren) blends the quirky herky jerky of prog complexity with blissful melody, tilting at times towards the twee whilst menacingly muscle-flexing at others. There's sizzling instrumental solo sections, and also much in the way of delightful female vocals (mostly wordless ba-ba-ba's).

Kultivator were a quartet, with lots of Fender Rhodes electric piano, as well as other organ and synth keyboards. Also recorder and/or flute. And on occasional backing vocals, a boy's choir. Yup, very proggy indeed. Armchair prog percussionists are provided with their fair share of air-drumming opportunities, percolating energetically as the drumming here does!
All those keyboards create a moody, slightly jazzistic sound which reminds us a bit of the brilliant Bo Hansson, '70s Swedish prog royalty. There's also a definite Magma influence at work (the thick bass riffing and martial drumming in the middle of "Kara Jord" for instance, leading some to go so far as to label Kultivator a genuine "zeuhl" band), and you'll hear hints of traditional Scandinavian folk music as well. Further reference points: fellow Swedes Samla Mammas Manna and Kebnekajse, also '70s UK prog like Genesis and Gentle Giant, RIO a la Henry Cow, and specifically Canterbury groups like National Health, among others. Guess that's what happens when you make prog in 1980, with a whole previous decade of genius from which to draw inspiration! Although Kultivator, um, certainly cultivated their own unique spin on what came before. We'd also say this is a good one for folks who enjoyed the modern day Swedish prog of Gosta Berlings Saga, reviewed here last year.
This brand-new reissue on the Mellotronen label features three bonus tracks added to the original LP's eight cuts, plus a whole extra bonus disc, called Waiting Paths, featuring four songs recorded by the now-reunited band in 2006. Since they already seemed a bit "out of time" (& we don't mean rhythmically!) even back in '81, it's no surprise that this more recent material sounds like a more modern Kultivator... but not that much more modern. Also included in this nice digipacked reissue, a big booklet with vintage photos and lengthy liner notes.

Barndomens Stigar (1981):
Mellotronen (MELLOCD 024) 2008
01. Hoga Hastar (03:37)
02. Vemod (02:38)
03. Smafolket (05:12)
04. Kara Jord (07:05)
05. Barndomens Stigar (05:13)
06. Grottekvarnen (07:01)
07. Varfol (02:53)
08. Novarest (06:16)
Bonus Tracks:
09. Haxdans (06:36)
10. Tunnelbanan Medley (02:19)
11. Novarest Live (12:23)

Waiting Paths (2006 / bonus CD):
Mellotronen (MELLOCD 025) 2008
01. In The Darkness' Plait (04:39)
02. Bringing Water (05:11)
03. Another Day In Life (03:45)
04. Waiting Paths (07:33)

Stefan Carlsson: bass, bass-pedals
Johan Hedrén: Rhodes, organ, synthesizers
Jonas Linge: guitars, vocals
Ingemo Rylander: vocals, recorders, Rhodes
Johan Svärd: drums, percussion
Hädan sväv boys' choir


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