Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lars Hollmer - Andetag (Sweden 1997) [AvantProg] @320K

All the depth, beauty, charm, and wonder of Lars Hollmer's music can be found in 1997's Andetag, recipient of a well-deserved award from the Swedish equivalent of the Grammys. Although one can hear many musical elements throughout the CD, it is a disservice to Hollmer to describe him merely as a synthesist of diverse genres and styles into some form of pastiche. His compositional sense is too strong for that, matched by his ability to tug at the emotions with the dramatic buildup, the warm textures, and of course the lovely melodies.
Listeners unacquainted with the Swedish composer/ keyboardist might conceivably be put off by the initial moments of the first track, "Stråk", with its dirgelike tempo and orchestral keyboard overlays, which, if dragged out too long, could indeed have been quite a dose of prog-minded heaviosity. But even here, the touches of accordion, bells, and violin leaven any tendencies toward majestic overload and, like so much of Hollmer's music, impart a light touch. And this is merely an opening vignette for a long and varied journey, ranging from the floating multi-tracked vocal piece "Kvar Om Igen", with an intimate flavor and melody reminiscent of Robert Wyatt (on a tune like Shleep's "Maryan", for example) and "Asianet" (which, as you might guess from the title, melds Hollmer's keyboard drone, pulsing accordion, and a clip-clopping rhythm to a strong Asian folk-flavored melody — perhaps foreshadowing his future work with SOLA in Japan) to "Cirkus I," sort of a demented speedy fanfare-polka on steroids.
Yet the longer multi-sectioned pieces that smoothly shift gears following their initial thematic statements into new areas of melody, harmony, and rhythm are the true standouts, and make the case that Hollmer should be considered a composer in the league of Piazzolla (or at least what might've happened if the Argentinean tango master had somehow wandered into Univers Zero's Ceux du Dehors session at Etienne Conod's studio in Switzerland and begun ordering the group to lighten up just a tad).
There is a compositional integrity to pieces like "Now", "Aska", and the moody closing "Videpiano", with the listener brought to unexpected yet somehow familiar territory. And to top it all off, there are those melodies that nag at the memory — you've heard them before, but where? Certainly never in music quite like this, with the drive of rock and the evocativeness of European folk, along with a seasoning of classical music's sophistication (but not its seriousness).
Andetag is somewhat less quirky than some of Hollmer's previous solo works — there is a richly consistent sound throughout the album (which includes instrumental contributions from bassist Wolfgang Salomon, violinist Santiago Jimenez, Samlas drummer Hans Bruniusson, and UZ/Von Zamla bassoonist/oboist Michel Berkmanns) and the whimsy is kept in check, and it doesn't sound as if he reached for the closest kitchen implement within reach to use as a percussive device.
One might argue, then, that Andetag is somewhat less "fun" than Tonöga, for example, but this also represents what Hollmer can achieve when his vision is at its most cohesive: music that is truly unified from start to finish despite 16 individual pieces (from one to no longer than seven minutes in length) and the composer's globetrotting sense of genre and style. With the typically paradoxical mix of power and understatement, Andetag is pure Lars Hollmer, and an indispensable part of his catalog.

-by Dave Lynch-

01. Stråk
02. Kvar Om Igen
03. Now
04. Asianet
05. Tot Brass
06. Cirkus I
07. Cirkus II
08. Försök
09. Flyg O Forget
10. Aska
11. Nya Tag
12. Zwei Kneipe
13. Ovnuserg I+II
14. Samma Dag
15. Teknoloo
16. Videpiano

Lars Hollmer: Arcordion,Percussion, Keyboards, Vocals
Wolfgang Salomon: Bass, Bass Kalimba, Cymbal
Santiago Jiminez: Violin
Hans Bruniusson: Drums
Michel Berkmanns: Oboe
Alba and Rinda Strand Hollmer: Choir


Solo albums:
XII Sibiriska Cyklar (1981)
Vill Du Höra Mer (1982)
Från Natt Idag (1983)
Joggingcharleston Singel (1984)
Tonöga (1985)
Vendeltid (1987)

The Siberian Circus (compilation, 1992)
Vandelmässa (1993)
Andetag (1998)
Utsikter (2000)
Autokomp A(nd)more (2001)
SOLA: Lars Hollmer's Global Home Project (2002)
Viandra (2007)

With Samla Mammas Manna:
Samla Mammas Manna (1971)
Måltid (1973)
Klossa Knapitatet (1974)
Snorungarnas Symfoni (1975)
Kaka (1999)
Dear Mamma (2002)

With Zamla Mammaz Manna:
Schlagerns Mystik / För Äldre Nybegynnare (1978)
Familjesprickor (1980)

With von Zamla:
Zamlaranamma (1982)
No Make Up (1983)
1983 (1999, rec. live 1983)  

With Ramlösa Kvällar:
Ramlösa Kvällar (Nights Without Frames) (1977)

With Fem Söker En Skatt:
Fem Söker En Skatt (1995)

With Looping Home Orchestra:
Vendeltid (1987)
Door Floor Something Window (live, 1993)

With Accordion Tribe:
Accordion Tribe (live, 1998)
Sea of Reeds (2002)
Lunghorn Twist (2006)

With Fanfare Pourpour:
Karusell musik (2007)


Ratings by outbrain