What is there left to say about this album? The only reason I am reviewing it is so that Only Angels Have Wings can have their own unique opinion of it. Actually, scratch that. I love this album for the same reason that everyone else does. This is a damn fine nostalgic trip. I was born a good decade or so after psychedelia’s heyday but I still remember discovering Zeppelin, The Who, Zombies et al. in my youth. Maybe it is because I did not grow up when those bands were all over the dial that I can say that Ta Det Lugnt is as exciting a musical journey as any record cut by its psychedelic forbearers. So, if you’ve been avoiding Ta Det Lugnt due to the universal praise that it has been receiving, you need to disengage those powers of hype resistance and check it out. There are other things to avoid nowadays (galang galang galanga).
Yes, the majority of critical praise points towards the magical, aided by time machine production quality of Ta Det Lugnt. Band leader Gustav Ejstes has recaptured perfectly the musty, colourful, sky-searing sound of old psychedelic recordings. The CD sounds as if you had snatched it up after kneeling over aunties old records in the crawl space, finally coming across one that instantly spoke to you in a way that no other music ever had. Album opener “Panda” is a flat out triumph. Those drum fills at the beginning of the song are rendered instantly classic the very first time you hear them. The song takes you on a soaring journey through shades of melancholy, your inner self and all of the years gone by. And it’s sung in Swedish, no less—this is how powerful these compositions are, especially given their aesthetic which is steeped in an oft mythologized genre. “Festival” is another perfect marriage of all things familiar yet reinvigorating. Before I sat down to write this review I debated about whether or not I should avoid using the word ‘psychedelic’ altogether, so as to not scare away those quick to judge by easy descriptors. But shit, I just can’t help it. The central passage of guitar in “Festival” is some of the most psychedelic I’ve ever heard.
For all of this pop-psychedelia though, these are also some genuinely adventurous open spaces of almost jazz. Like other great improvisers, I can’t shake the feeling that these band members share an intuitiveness that is of a holy level. It’s hard, because of all the effects and prog-rock structures, to tell just what, if anything, is actually improvised. Such moments are dispersed throughout the record (mostly on its second half) and they blend seamlessly with the more traditional and linear compositions.
Summer is coming to a close and the golden brown hues of autumn are just around the corner. It was this same time of year, last year, that Ta Det Lungt was unleashed upon our ears. If you have yet to hear it I recommend you do so now, and like Ejstes and his crew, pretend that no time has passed.
- Andrew Iliadis