Kebnekajse Kebnekajse

[Subliminal Sounds; 2009]

Styles: old-man prog
Others:  Pendragon

While the innately subjective nature of music makes certain descriptors swing two ways — describing death metal as “brutal, nihilistic gut-pummeling” might make one person cringe and another beam — the “dad-rock” tag is uniformly pejorative, taken as a synonym for “boring,” “safe,” and “worthy-of-Paste Magazine.” Sadly, Swedish progressive rock band Kebnekajse are decidedly treading water in this lukewarm, currentless “dad-rock” sea.

This self-titled effort covers eight mostly traditional Scandinavian folk tunes, electrified by the Swedish sextet’s prog-rock arrangements. But, really, this is an embodiment of why 'prog' is so often seen as a denigrating term itself. Outdated guitar-tones (what does one call overdrive that doesn’t?) and incessant drum-circle polyrhythm become distracting once their Velveeta-cheesy novelty wears off.

The European folk songs upon which these mostly instrumental arrangements are based do offer engaging melodies that glide and frolic in the hands of guitarist Kenny Håkansson. And when his lines mingle with Mats Glengård’s violin, there is an appeal beyond the unfortunate tones that Håkansson employs. But the general timbre of the band winds up driving these graceful melodies into prog-rock stereotype: rock that doesn’t rock, jazz with no swing, and folk with no personality. The band parades their awkwardly assembled sound like socks-and-sandals, oblivious to the embarrassment that it ought to bring.

It’s not impossible to imagine this album appealing to leftover fans with long-gone hairlines, but one would expect they’d be much more satisfied with a reissue from the catalogs of King Crimson, Genesis, or Yes than a largely obscure band whose creative peak resulted in this, a thoroughly mediocre album.

1. Leksands skänklåt
2. “Bua Moras” brudpolska
3. Vallåt
4. Polska från Alfta
5. Brudmarsch till Per & Anna
6. Polska från Enviken
7. Farmors brudpolska
8. Brudmarsch efter E Eriksson

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