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Music Review: Gosta Berlings Saga – Glue Works

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Gosta Berlings Saga are a quartet that specialize in an eclectic combination of progressive rock and the avant-garde to produce a sound uniquely their own. Their latest release is titled Glue Works, and is another in a long line of challenging releases from the magnificent Cuneiform label.

The disc opens with “354,” a very proggy affair with some cool guitars, and the trippy sounds of the theremin (actually created by a synthesizer). Towards the end, there is a dark element that seeps in, which becomes more pronounced as Glue Works moves forward. The short “Icosahedron” follows, and picks up on the ominous closing tones of “354,” before resolving itself in a much more open, even sweet manner.

“Island” is the first tour de force to appear on Glue Works, and sets the stage for the fireworks to follow. At 12:26, “Islands” allows ample time for Gosta Berlings Saga to indulge their collective musical whims, resulting in a wild ride. The repetitive nature of the tune displays elements of classical compositional structure in tandem with a fleeting minimalist influence. The guitar and synthesizer solo spots are again exemplary.

Next up is “Gliese 581g.” This intriguing piece reminds me of Polygon Window’s (aka Aphex Twin) somewhat obscure, and very beautiful Surfing On Sine Waves. Moving in a completely different direction is Gosta’s own “Waves,” a very rhythmic and keyboard-driven track.

“Geosignal” signals a return to the portentous tones explored earlier on the disc. The cut works as something of an overture, heralding the arrival of the final track, “Sorterargatan 1.” Mysterious, low tones are the initial sounds we hear, and as the piece progresses they transform into a brighter, and rhythmically challenging tableau. The tempos then begin to rapidly change, illustrating the virtuosity of all four musicians. Just as we have become accustomed to the anxious energy, the tune moves into a gentle piano-driven culmination.

The four musicians who make up Gosta Berlings Saga are unmistakably gifted composers and players. Glue Works is a powerful testament to their talents.

 

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