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Atlas - Blå Vardag

Blå Vardag
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 06 October 2022, 7:33 AM

From Bandcamp, “The 1979 album "Blå Vardag" by ATLAS is in every way indispensable when looking at the progressive music history of Sweden. Their sole debut album is combining the almost Zamla -esque playfulness while infusing heavy organs, carefully refined guitar riffs and fantastic synthesized soundscapes. If you have any interest in instrumental 70's Prog (and even the RIO scene), you're in for a real treat - this album is not to be overlooked!” This album is being reissued, some 40+ years later. The album contains eight songs.

“Elisabiten” is the first. It sounds like 70’s Prog…from the RUSH-like keyboard and bass sounds to the smooth and simple riffs. It sounds like a gentle breeze pushing your way, but it lacks that punch that many Progressive bands of that era had. “På Gata” is twice as long. The drummer and bassist are pretty solid. When you think about a lot of Progressive bands of that era, you have to remember that the use of keyboards was relatively new. So, the simple melodies can be expected, and common. Still, again, it lacks that big punch that sister bands like RUSH were capable of. The song meanders for much of its length. This is also the second song without vocals.

“Blå Vardag” is a few minutes in before there is much sonority. Aside from the keyboard experimentation, there isn’t a lot going on. I appreciate the dancing bass notes, but the rhythms are quite simple. “Gånglåt” is a shorter song with a bit more linear sound. Following three experimental offerings, the band finally puts together more of a song, complete with some meter shifting and instrumental prowess. “Den Vita Tranans Väg” is another dreamy and trippy experimental song, with dark edges. We get some more guitar presence here as well, in the form of both rhythms and leads. Still, it is a fairly thin sound.

“Björnstorp” features some soft flute notes. I don’t think we need more strangeness from an already strange album. At times, it seems like the band is onto a riff or a sound that will take them somewhere, but other times, they just seem to be a bit lost. “Hemifrån” is much more put together song. The band seems to finally lock in on groove and ran with it. Towards the end, the tones turn bright, and the song has a nice crescendo. “Sebastian” closes the album. Piano notes mark this song, and they are quite positive and catchy. Where was this song over the length of the album? They finally put together a cohesive song with catchy and feel-good melodies. Too little, too late? I’m afraid so, but I do like this song.

In 1979, I was 11, and listening to KISS and RUSH exclusively. These are two bands that are about as far apart on the spectrum that Rock ‘N Roll could be. KISS wrote very simple songs with very catchy hooks, while RUSH created masterpieces decades ahead of themselves and features a trio unmatched (even today) by their instrumental prowess. Had I come across this album then, I would have been dumbfounded. Fortunately, today, through decades of listening experience, I can appreciate this album, but it is still not something I would look on the shelf for, nor waste more than a few spins trying to find something really unique, but just scratching my head in the end.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 1
Production: 7

2 Star Rating

1. Elisabiten
2. På Gata
3. Blå Vardag
4.  Gånglåt
5. Den Vita Tranans Väg
6. Björnstorp
7. Hemifrån
8. Sebastian
Record Label: Record Heaven/Transubstans Records


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