|Superfjord — All Will Be Golden (Sept. 21, 2018)
Superfjord — All Will Be Golden (Sept. 21, 2018) Location: Gaia, Helsinki, Finland
Genre: Psychedelic/Space Rock
Recorded at: Artlab Studio
Album release: Sept. 21, 2018
Record Label: Svart Records
01. Cut And Paste 8:35
02. Master Architect 10:43
03. Rainbow 5:03
04. No Rest For The Wicked 7:48
05. Parvati Valley 8:45
06. Rainha Da Floresta 7:57
✹ Jussi Ristikaarto: vocals, guitars, electronics, percussion //
✹ Mikko Kapanen: vocals, guitars, percussion //
✹ Juho Ojala: vocals, keyboards, synthesizers //
✹ Teemu Soininen: bass //
✹ Ilari Kivelä: drums, percussion, synthesizers //
✹ Jussi Peevo: drums, percussion //
✹ Tuomas Skopa: Co~producer, Recorded, Mixed
✹ Rami Mursula: Cover
✹ Matti Olavi Töyli: Arranged (tracks: A2, A4)
✹ Jaakko Viitalähde: Mastered
✹ Ville Särmä: Music (tracks: A2)
✹ We shall all be redeemed, one way or another. Shall we pass through the golden gates towards the light, up to which myriad mysterious paths lead? Is the journey more important than the destination? Are we dreaming? Regardless of the questions asked, eventually All Will Be Golden.
✹ Superfjord’s sophomore album is about it all: the journey, the destination, and the vehicles. All Will Be Golden is an ambitious musical trip formed of long arcs, mesmerizing mandalas, harmony vocals, and a multitude of aural colors. Have you heard the ayahuasca~inspired collaboration album from Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, and Spiritualized? Neither have we, but All Will Be Golden could possibly exist in such a parallel dimension. Whether you’re looking for a cure, a way of escape, a catalyst for spiritual expeditions, something to groove to, or just some chakra~opening psychedelic rock ’n’ roll with a 21st century cosmic twist, this might just be it.
✹ A given listener will finds their own sonic touchpoints in the colorful melange that is Superfjord‘s second album and Svart Records debut, All Will be Golden. My ears turned immediately to the line from opener “Cut and Paste” that asks, “Don’t you know happiness is a gun?” in a winking nod to The Beatles, but certainly there’s plenty of Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, and many others in there as well, including the Helsinki outfit’s likewise shimmer~minded labelmates in Death Hawks. Still, in their harmonies, in their blend of classic progressive rock and modern psychedelia, in the subcontinental Asian delve of “Parvati Valley” and the sax~laced fuzzy astrojazz of closer “Rainha da Floresta,” Superfjord‘s six~track/48~minute offering lacks nothing for personality of its own. Rather, it is a wash of sprawling coherence, engaging in its concept and execution alike and not so much blissed beyond consciousness as resolute in its joy.
✹ As its future~looking title hints, it’s a hopeful sound conjured by guitarist/vocalists Jussi Ristikaarto and Mikko Kapanen (the former also electronics, the latter also percussion), bassist Teemu Soininen, drummer/percussionists Jussi Peevo and Ilari Kivelä and keyboardist Juho Ojala, sweet in its melodies and of consuming swirl. In what are so often seen and portrayed as dark times, it is brightly hued and hiding nothing in that. With a deep mix that finds enough space for all six players and the variety of elements they bring, songs like the 10~minute “Master Architect” are headphone-~eady if not headphone~demanding, and make for the kind of listens in which one might continue to hear something new upon repeat visits.
✹ They’re not blind. “Cut and Paste” seems in no small way to be a comment on the age in which we live, but both “Master Architect” and “Rainbow,” which follow in succession, underscore the notion of powers beyond our control, and in that, encourage not fearfulness or resignation, but taking the opportunity to rejoice at what might be, now and tomorrow. It’s no coincidence that as “Master Architect” winds down, the line “A dream” is repeated on a loop.
✹ Come to think of it, “no coincidence” can basically apply to the whole record. All Will be Golden is meticulous. The harmonized repetitions of lines in “Rainbow” — “Bow down to the rainbow/Enter now the temple,” etc. — arrive with an easy flow in their rhythm preceded by the percussion in both “Cut and Paste” and “Master Architect” and the melodic range there as well, vocally and instrumentally. A fervent prog~boogie emerges near the midway point of the opener, with guitars scorching out a solo backed by basslines so fluid they’ll induce an eye roll and drums and percussion, and at just over five minutes long (the shortest inclusion here), “Rainbow” echoes some of that rhythmic urgency, but its push is more space~chorus than in~room~jam, and the voices of Ristikaarto and Kapenen — and potentially a host of others or other layers, going by the sound of it — give a decidedly celebratory vibe leading into more impressive lead guitar trading off with classically prog keyboard, also arriving in multiple layers.
✹ The affect there, as with so much of All Will be Golden, is gorgeous and lush, but not void of humanity thanks again to the vocals, which return to the initial lines noted above to close out a side A that’s already shown Superfjord — who made their debut in 2014 with the also~gorgeous It is Dark, but I Have This Jewel, boasting a cover of John Coltrane‘s “A Love Supreme” in the process, and also covered Frank Zappa on a split with Sendelica last year — to be mindful of songwriting and atmosphere alike, and while there are certainly exploratory aspects to the briefest of cuts, that underlying consciousness gives their approach even more scope.
✹ Again, it is no coincidence. I’d be willing to believe in “happy accidents” in the studio as happen in the process of making most records, but it’s so clear Superfjord know where they want their songs to go, and their sure~handed guidance only makes following along even more of a pleasure.
✹ There’s a telling moment about 35 seconds into aptly~titled side B launcher “No Rest for the Wicked.” The band is grooving smoothly on a jazzy rhythm with the keys out front in a kind of jabbing semi~staccato vibe. They just seem to be settling into the song’s course, percussion is on fire and it looks like the verse is about to start, when all of a sudden there’s this quick entry of a dream~toned lead guitar that takes hold for a few measures before the first whispered lyrics of the title line. It’s a quick thing, but it’s the kind of subtlety that abounds throughout All Will be Golden; exactly what the song needed, exactly when it needed it.
✹ To some it might sound like an indulgence, but I’d argue that in craft and aesthetic alike, Superfjord aren’t so much serving their own whims as the overarching purposes of their creation. “No Rest for the Wicked” dances into a harmonized, tom~backed, sax~inclusive fadeout, leading to the aforementioned closing pair of “Parvati Valley” and “Rainha da Floresta,” the Portuguese title of which translates to “Queen of the Forest.” “Parvati Valley” digs itself into a classically Western psychedelic fascination with Indian traditions, the lyrics becoming a mantra repeated for the first few minutes as instruments build up behind and an acoustic~centered midsection leads to the sharper keys and the introduction of the next movement’s chanting, more outward~directed and festive. Before a long fadeout, Superfjord seem to take “Parvati Valley” to a new echelon of psychedelia, which is fair enough leading into “Rainha da Floresta,” with its sampled birdsong and engrossing melodic peacefulness.
✹ More choice bass work from Soininen anchors a winding progression of keys, cymbal taps and the rounding~up of guitars, and as it moves toward the 2:30 mark into its total 7:57, the finale enters its next stage, setting a bed of keys and bass for sax and heavier~weighted groove in the guitars and bass. They don’t paint any darker of a picture there than on anything preceding — miraculously — but there’s a feeling of reprise to “Rainha da Floresta” that lets the listener know it’s the ending. Shortly before five minutes in, they turn again to tense percussion, keys, chanting and, finally, a burst of spacious guitar and keyboard and drums and percussion and everything else that serves as a fitting apex for everything that’s come before it, and they close with waves as though they and their audience alike have come out of the forest and arrived at the ocean.
✹ So be it. The journey from front to back of All Will be Golden is masterfully navigated, and whatever one’s feelings on the general state of the world in which we live — that is, however much hope you may or may not have — Superfjord portray a bright vision of things to come. As regards their sound, style, breadth and the focus they manage to keep where so many others would simply get lost, the future may indeed shine like gold. The present does as well. ✹ http://theobelisk.net/
|Superfjord — All Will Be Golden (Sept. 21, 2018)