Dag & Natt (2CD)
Dag & Natt is Swedish for "day and night". Its also the name of the latest 2CD set from this Swedish psychedelic ensemble. All instrumental, the band's music has a 70s krautrock vibe. Loooong jams spiral out into all different directions but remain cohesive throughout. The correctly also cites Träd, Gräs Och Stenar as a musical reference. Yes influences from the Swedish underground are here as well. This is one of those albums where you are best suited to listen to it under the influence of your favorite semi-legal substance with the lights turned down low. Highly recommended.
"I'm taking it as read that we all agree that Kungens Män are the heirs apparent to Träd, Gräs & Stenar's mantle as Sweden's foremost purveyors of tripped out psychedelia. Both bands appear to share a common purpose that is to draw the listener in and envelop them in music that simultaneously cocoons them in blissful vibes but also excites them on a visceral level. I'll admit I was a latecomer to the Kungen's party...it was only on the release of 'Stockholm Maraton' that I fully appreciated their modus operandi but I am now a committed convert! All this being said, I did feel a small frisson of fear when I read that the new album, 'Dag & Natt' was a concept album....I have mixed feelings about those (exhibit 1 m'lud - Rick Wakeman!). However, this album is more of a suite of music in the classical sense - an ordered collection of tracks with a common purpose to convey an idea. In this case "10 improvised pieces accompanies you through the course of a whole day". As to whether it works...well, I think that is a personal decision made by each individual listener, but i do know is that it sees the band at it's best - weaving magical, musical spells that bewitch and beguile.
It is a double album split into the 'Dag' (day) side and the 'Natt' (night) side. We begin the day with ‘Morgonrodnad' waking us from a restful slumber in the best possible way (well, short of a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich). It eases us into the day with sublime flourishes of sax amidst some blissful guitar. It is a sedate and yet emotionally powerful piece that holds the listener enrapt and gives them plenty of time and space to gird their loins for the coming day...if my day always started this luxuriously then I would be a happy man. 'Dag' would seem to equate with the morning commute...it is more hectic and the repetition akin to a train plodding its way to the terminus. It has a claustrophobic feel about it thanks in part to that repetition but also the mournful vocals that flit in and out. It is in direct contrast to the opener but is just as powerful. 'Samtidigt' again sees the tempo drop, like some postprandial stupor. There is also a sense of melancholia to be heard, a vaguely audible sense of loss that pervades proceedings. Musically it another spell-binding tour de force - more rich, ringing guitar providing some circular riffs that sit over a motorik rhythm. These guys are capable of producing such a range of emotions via their music if the listener immerses themselves fully....magical stuff! The 'Dag' album is brought to a close by 'Aftonstjärnan, the longest track on the album coming in at just shy of 14 minutes. It is a slow building opus with a dark edge, thanks in part to a barely discernible drone underlying everything. It stuck me as being a welcome to the night rather than a lament to another day gone - there is a gelidity that beckons in the cold of the night - the guitar is glacial over another solid motorik rhythm. It is time to draw the curtains and sit and wait for the darkness of night to descend.
The second, 'Natt', album is opened by the title track. I'm not going to mince words and get all verbose about this one.....it is beautiful! The sax is cool and smooth and the track holds the listener in a state of tranquil bliss. 'Mänen Tur och Retur' has more of a tangible presence than the filigree beauty of 'Natt' - it has a rumbling bass undercurrent that almost demands respect and the signature circular guitar licks retain the sense of wonder but in a more strident manner. 'Ett Tappat Perspektiv' sees some groove added to the Kungen's recipe. It is inescapably funky and one can only assume that this is the part of the night in Sweden in which the denizens 'have it large'. The tempo grows and grows throughout the track, building to a climax before coming down in a haze of feedback and static...it is breathless and exhilarating. 'Mara' builds on this come down and plays on the listener's fears. A slow programmed beat provides the background for plaintive guitar and a dark, cavernous drone that positively seeps through the track and into your soul......it is the soundtrack that place we've been to and never want to revisit. 'Vargtimmen' sees the band doing what they do oh so well....a metronomic beat plays host to some more superlative guitar work that veers between straight up psych and something more intangible...Kungens Män manage to imbue everything with an air of mystery that keeps their music always exciting and always intoxicating. The album is brought to a close by 'Cirkeln är Slut' and we are back where we started - glorious, chilled guitar creating a space for dreams and the planning of exotic adventures for the day ahead.
I've heard and reviewed many fantastic albums this year - some have been challenging and some have been viscerally sharp but with 'Dag & Natt' Kungens Män have brought us possibly the most luxurious and 'feel good' album of the year. From start to finish the listener is immersed in a suite of music that is akin to falling into bed after a hard day of graft...that same feeling of being able to finally unwind and let your mind wander onto the infinite possibilities the next day may bring. Musically the band are on point with their signature blending of psychedelia and krautrock and when you consider that album was improvised you come away with a genuine respect for the guys. It is a majestic and sublime album." Dayz Of Purple And Orange