Sonet 1969-1974 / Esoteric 2013
An irregular observation of Danish progressive bluesmen’s initial crooked path.
Scandinavian prog is yet to receive its official history – if that’s possible, given the peninsula’s rock line being as straight as a fjord. And there’s no better example of that than this Danish band whose legend crossed the regional borders and who might have been the first people in the world to use the “W.W.W.” abbreviation as the title of their 1971’s album, one of the five represented here. Perfectly capturing the ensemble’s musical sprawl – the quartet’s 1969 debut “M 144” was a double LP – and discarding about half of tracks from each of the LPs, the 2CD compilation only sharpens the eclecticism factor inherent to most of the pieces.
Undoubtedly blues-based but extremely adventurous, COLOSSEUM-way, as enticingly effusive “Bareback Rider” or “Gong Gong The Elephant Song” illustrate, the group’s psychedelic buzz is introduced with “Ivanhoe i Brøndbyerne” via organ washes, acid-kissed jangly guitar and flute-singing that links to the hypnotic, if progressively urgent, “Tingle Tanglemanden” and the repetitive swirl of “Ksilioy.” Yet when Karsten Vogel picks up his sax, to meander through the title track and beyond, jazz rears its unruly head to paradoxically render the deceptively dirgy likes of elegiac-cum-energetic “Secret Oyster Service,” harmonica-oiled “Ida Verlaine” and swaying “Antique Peppermint” elegant and let Bo Thrige Andersen’s drums, rather simple for the most part, shine.
Simpler songs such as “Purple Hearts” or delicate “When I Look Into Your Eyes” fare not so well, though, reflecting their era – as does, in the wonderful fashion, the innocent vibe of “Across The Windowsill” from 1970’s self-titled album, produced by Tony Reeves and John Peel – and leading into nowhere which seems endless in the 12-minute funky “Rockin’ Rambler,” whereas “Ivanhoe In The Woods” relies too heavily on the “Satisfaction” riff to enjoy its dagger swagger. But there’s a fantastic cosmic vibe in the instrumental “W.W.W.” that sees Vogel’s synthesizers waves punched through with Ole Fick’s wah-wah’s and Jess Stæhr’s bass, and the record’s concept is revealed in the way it flows into the thrilling ripples of “Avez vous Kaskelainen?” and “Kaske-vous Karsemose” – trilling yet less arresting than the scintillating guitar on the “Rotating Irons” blues.
Laid down after the collective’s short break-up and with most of the erstwhile jazz tropes delegated to BRI offshoot SECRET OYSTER, 1974’s “Right On” shifted their paradigm towards heavy rock, as suggests the “August Suicidal” rumble. The autumnal “Accident, After The Carcrash” serves as a warm valediction to both the band’s boldness and this uneven reflection of their knightly quest, but it takes a great deal defragmentation to make sense of it all.