Dan Berglund is
the former bass player in the highly successful Esbjörn
Svensson Trio, whose career was tragically cut short by the death
of its leader in 2008. Tonbruket is Berglund's debut as a solo recording
artist. It's a strikingly confident and varied set that impresses with
its original approach.
Sister Sad's guitars sound like an eastern Bill
Frisell, all gentle chords, sliding notes and the sense of a
questing spirit. A couple of minutes in, with an extended cymbal splash,
the track comes alive – it’s as though the group has been rudely awoken
from a pleasant dream. Despite the wailing guitar there's still
something pensive and controlled about the music, even as it gets louder
and more emphatic. After four-and-a-half minutes, energy spent, the
listener is left with echoes ringing but feeling becalmed.
Sailor Waltz is a lengthy and strange affair that takes its time in
unfolding an abstract, but engaging narrative. Though musically
different, there are echoes of the leftfield eccentricity of Eivind
Aarset's Spooky Danish Waltz and the Pat
Metheny Group's Are You Going With Me?: all three are compositions
that the listener has to settle into to get the most from.
Gi Hop is a wrench into something more upbeat. Its strange, stamping
rhythm might be a long-lost cousin of a song by the Penguin
Cafe Orchestra; there's a similar folk element too, courtesy of
Martin Hederos' fiddle. The Wind and the Leaves begins in gentle
acoustic guitar territory that might briefly be mistaken for a Nick
Drake introduction, and expires gently.
Tonbruket's rhythms, courtesy of percussionist Andreas Werlin, are
highly original, with an emphasis at odd moments that makes for a very
unjazz-like impression. This is music with its own distinct character:
each of the album's ten compositions is unique and unpredictable, and as
a result highly memorable.