Anekdoten—Gravity (Virta 004)
Anekdoten produce a beautiful but suffocating din. Their sound is defined by Jan Erik Liljestrom’s throaty Rickenbacker bass and by the mellotron, played primarily by Anna Sofi Dahlberg. Between those two extremes sits the alternately chiming and grinding guitar work of Nicklas Barker and Peter Nordins’ loose, relaxed drumming. According to their bio, the band started out playing King Crimson covers, and this influence remains, mainly in the dark mood that they conjure with that bass and mellotron churning away. However, Anekdoten’s style is much less angular and more propulsive than Crimson's. Once they get up a head of steam (usually in 3/8), they’re unstoppable. Gravity is their latest album, and it’s really doing it for me. If certain discussion group posts are to be believed, Anekdoten are getting more commercial with each release. This is laughable. They’re not exactly Nickelback. “Ricochet” is probably the most user-friendly song on here. I can’t pin down who it reminds me of—maybe early Simple Minds. It’s got an unapologetically big, sweeping chorus, but just when you think the song’s edging closer to the mainstream they blow their cover with a crazy Farfisa organ solo before the final verse. Brilliant. The next song, “The War is Over” is obscured by the same psychedelic haze as Sabbath's “Planet Caravan,” though it's a more fully fleshed-out composition. (There’s a strange little video for this song on the official Web site.) The remaining tracks all produce varying degrees of menace; “SW4” being particularly malevolent, featuring a bass line for the ages and a male/female vocal approach. About the vocals: many feel they’re Anekdoten’s weak point, and I’d agree that they are an acquired taste. They’re not exactly typical of the genre—instead of cloning Gabriel, Anderson or Hammill, Barker’s voice is more akin to David Byrne attempting to channel Bryan Ferry. I appreciate its individuality, though, and the occasional Swedish accent intrusion (“A blue whippoorwill sings/on the udder side of the rain”) adds a bit of charm. Anekdoten are playing down in Baja this weekend with IQ and Deus Ex Machina, and the fact that I’m not going has me a bit depressed.