Glassville Records [Release date: 16.03.15]
Remember your adolescence when you walked everywhere with an LP tucked under your arm to show anyone who was interested just how cool and hip you were?
Back then it was ‘The Yes Album’, ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’, ‘Meddle’ or any suchlike that displayed your ‘prog’ credentials.
Alas, in the age of the CD, this is a pleasure denied – but if such halcyon days were ever to return, then Hasse Froberg And Musical Companion would, without a shadow of a doubt, be on full display: it’s just one of those retro, feel-good albums that give nostalgia a good name.
For those not in the know, Hasse Froberg is singer/guitarist with Sweden’s fabulous The Flower Kings – a position he has held since 1997.
When in 2008 the ‘Kings decided to take a few years off, Froberg formed his own band releasing two albums – ‘FuturePast’ in 2010 and ‘Powerplay’ in 2012.
Both had their merits but lacked a certain consistency with ‘wow’ moments often dogged by ‘whoah’ moments.
Safe to say that inconsistency has been blown away by this third album.
There is no doubt that keeping the same band together for five years has resulted in a more ‘together’ sound and, concurrently, that Froberg’s compositional skills have developed immensely outside the confines of his day-job band.
The album is bookended by an old ticking clock on the tracks ‘Seconds’ and ‘Minutes’ which, with the exception of a few soaring keys on the opener are, if you’ll forgive this, a waste of time…
However, it’s what’s in between that counts and Froberg has put together, as mentioned earlier, a retro progressive rock album that has an exemplary contemporary sheen, yet ticks all the boxes from days of yore – guaranteed to whet the appetites of even the fiercest naysayer who believes no decent prog has been recorded since 1974.
What’s more, the sheer diversity of what’s on offer on HFMC is, at times, overwhelming – with heavy riffing, chiming arpeggios and delicate piano figures rubbing up alongside some tasty jazz guitar, classic Hammond swells and even a pinch of Supertramp and Queen to keep you on your toes.
The overwhelming influence however – mostly due to Froberg’s voice being in the same register as Jon Anderson – is Yes, circa. ‘Yes Album/Close To The Edge/Fragile’.
This is no bad thing for progressive rock purists of course who will also be delighted to hear that three tracks clock in at over ten minutes apiece with one fifteen minute ‘epic’.
This ‘epic’, ‘Pages’ is the highpoint of the album, with its lovely guitar arpeggios and flute sounding like a cut from Steve Hackett’s ‘Please Don’t Touch’ and progressing via some great Hammond work to a piece of incendiary fretwork from Froberg and/or fellow plank spanker Anton Lindsjo – absolute progressive nirvana.
Hasse Froberg has come up with an absolute gem of an album with ‘HFMC’.
It is everything a good progressive rock album should be – derivative perhaps, retro definitely but there’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia, especially when, paradoxically, it sounds completely of its time.
I’m just going out for a walk with it under my arm.
Review by Alan Jones
Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix” on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, third Sunday of the month at 16:00. Expect some prog.
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