Finnish Prog Rock merchants Superfjord have the kind of name that should cement immediate status as cult legends. Somewhat marvelously, they also sound as if the last forty-five years have never happened. The powerful resonance of the music they produce has, incredibly, seen the band embraced by BBC Music, and second album All Will Be Golden (Svart) could leave the average rocker wondering if this is finally an avenue into awards that have previously excluded our genres.
Opener ‘Cut and Paste’ exudes an Indie jangle that invites the eardrums, yet progresses to a lightness that indicates a base in Prog-Folk, a little Psych irreverence and a heavy dose of Scandinavian Pop that makes foot-tapping irresistible. The track’s centrepiece is pure Yes, the guitar solo and keys reminiscent of Howe and Wakeman in their melodious, pulsating pomp. ‘Master Architect’ begins with bass and electronic reverb belonging purely and joyously to the 70s, and an intermittent percussion leading to a Marillion-esque jam: a gentle, instrumental ‘how-we-are’, pulsing with a mild Rock injection. The dry throat of a saxophone marries Gerry Rafferty into the increasingly swelling yet ever mature template, and for those of us of a certain age it’s wonderful to think that this kind of stuff can still be relevant.
‘Rainbow’ is a hypnotic chant, the vocals almost atonal but the music arousing memories of Jethro Tull, further dragging the listener back in time. The bongo rips are wicked, involving and fast become an essential feature of this retrospective journey. The organ work on ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, meanwhile, is full of horns, parps, and God knows what other wonders: this is brilliantly accompanied by lead guitars which create the structure as much as the subtle yet decisive rhythm section, with a pulsating middle segment reminiscent of ‘…Wardrobe’-era Genesis.
‘Parvati Valley’ is another marvel, the increasing bass dictation becoming more apparent under Kula:Shaker-like, Buddhist chants and delicately howling strings: while ‘Takeaways’ takes us further into the mystical subcontinent, Crispian Mills’ Indian obsessions waxed lyrically over a depth of melody and growing intensity, rhythm and power. Closer ‘Rainha de Forestia’ is a heavenly presence, accompanied by touching piano chords, a steady swell of Electronica and a cosmic phosphorescence weighed down by the aromatic scents of patchouli.
It’s an album we’ve all heard before in various guises, but that is too far in the dim and distant past to recall, and displays stunning arrangement and songwriting craft. Combing light and shade in glorious synchronicity, All Will Be Golden is a truly magnificent experience. If you feel albums such as Aqualung (Chrysallis) and Going For The One (Atlantic) are boring relics, then you certainly won’t get this: but if you know the age they came from and would delight in its rebirth, this could well be your favourite album of recent years.