Searching For Jupiter

Music Review

28 Apr 2014
Magnus Öström
Searching For Jupiter
ACT

Magnus Öström and his band play rock, but not exactly, funky metal, but not exactly, progressive rock, but not exactly, jazz, but, you guessed it. This album is a wonderful musical romp, as entertaining as it is musical. It has a tangential feel to it, with a repetitive tendency and notes that make you feel as if you’re moving in a series of endless circles. With the exception of one number it’s hard to switch off and invites high volumes and repeat play. It’s very ‘listenable’ material that never challenges but always interests and intrigues the ears and brain.

Searching For Jupiter has a Bela Fleck esque feel to it (especially Dancing at the Dutchtreat), which in my book at least is high praise (I would encourage anyone interested to look up Bela Fleck and the Flecktones playing Blu Bop). The band consists of on time e.s.t. drummer Magnus Öström (also on percussion, voice and additional keyboards), Andreas Hourdakis (electric and acoustic guitars, banjo), and Daniel Karlsson (grand piano, keyboards) Tobias Gabrielson (electric bass, bass synthesizer, keyboards and others). The ACT label uses the moniker ‘In the spirit of jazz’ but as mentioned earlier, the music played is an interesting fusion between rock and many other styles, it will remind many of albums that were made in the 70s by the likes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and conversely Jan Hammer.

It starts with haunting piano and guitar rhythms reminiscent of Andreas Vollenweider (but not exactly) that continue to build volume and rhythmic tension, moving onto a piece that sounds almost like a country dance-fair in the midwest (but not exactly) Then the tempo drops substantially to produce a track that is at odds with the rest of the album, but things immediately improve with the title track. This offers devotees of seventies prog an earful of rhythms, stops and starts that will produce smiles and induce replays. Things move swiftly to a darker, austere track that could be used as a soundtrack to at least one modern day Scandinavian crime series, and on it goes. This is a feast of associations and sounds.  The band works well together, there is no dominant member and there is an ample opportunity for all to shine.

To my ears the title track is the best but this is followed very closely by the opening number The Moon (and the Air it Moves). The recording is open and precise if a wee bit bright in places, it is tempting to listen at high volumes but may fatigue the ears of those who own bright speakers. This is a great album to discover, equally at home on the system as well as in the car, it’s exceedingly highly recommended.

Reuben Klein