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(127:45 CD+DVD, Cuneiform Records)
Prolusion. Swedish composer and musician Lars HOLLMER is a well known name in progressive rock circles. Especially amongst dedicated fans of RIO, a movement Hollmer was a founding member of. Besides that his tenure in Samla Mammas Mamma is perhaps what most people will remember him for, as well as his solo productions and collaborations for some 30 odd years. "With Floury Hands: Sketches" is a posthumous production, released by the US label Cuneiform Records four years following Hollmer passing away due to cancer.
TRACKLIST: 1. Beat Mm 3:16 2. Siska 2:02 3. Crazy Stuff 1:05 4. Tyskromans 3:15 5. Nyfin 2:23 6. Mellan Stol Och Bord 2:30 7. Skrona 1:24 8. Tages 2:01 9. Kanske 1:08 10. Den Arga Kvinnan 1:08 11. Tivolimarsch 3:32 12. Predestinator 2:50 13. Vendelvarianter 2:34 14. Okjak 2:41 15. Ukuleles 2:33 16. Bam ba ra 0:33 17. Antilobo 1:31 18. Innanpop 2:49 19. Proggivergeng 0:12 20. Talrika 4:36 21. Radioyl 2:07 22. Aningar 2:45 23. Go to Africa 3:58 24. Vandelmässa 1:11 25. Franklet 3:01 26. In the RIO 1:37 SOLO PILOT: Lars Hollmer – vocals; all instruments
Analysis. The premise of this collection of songs is described in some detail on the CD itself, but the short version is that this is a selection of recorded material, ideas and recordings in various stages of completion, assembled by Lars' son Gabriel as he listened through hours of recorded material by his father intended to be either used or inspected when he was about to record his new album. The title of the album indicates this, and one might also add that Lars Hollmer had decided to call his next album "With Floury Hands". While Lars never got to work on a new album properly before passing away, one might assume that at the very least some of the contents on this disc might have ended up on this production that never came to be. The defining description of this collection of ideas is that they are, indeed, sketches. Some of them are ideas that give the impression of being finalized, finished compositions, ready to be released; others appear to be impressions set aside for future developments. A few might even be of a kind and character that never were meant to be released. As varied in stages of completion and finish as they are varied in sound and style overall. A piece like Ukuleles, combining what in my mind are fairly cliched perceptions of Hawaiian and Swedish folk music, is more interesting as an idea than the musical result presented here, although the meeting of the ukulele and accordion does provide an interesting contrast. Go to Africa is another idea that might not fascinate all and sundry. The fair music of Tivolimarsch is a jolly and uplifting construction, but whether it was intended for release I don't know. But it will produce many a big smile amongst those who listen to it, and will inspire quite a few good trips down memory lane too presumably. The 12-seconds long Proggovergång will produce laughter due to very different circumstances, especially amongst fans of bands such as ELP, while a composition like Siska will inspire thoughts of the long, Scandinavian summer days and night with its light toned mood and accordion base. From vocal experiments to purebred folk music, brief interludes of nondescript styles to fairly sophisticated compositions in the heartland of progressive rock, this is an album that has it all and then some. Talrika is one of the most amazing creations present for the progressive rock oriented crowd, sporting nervous organ textures supplementing the accordion, sporting a beefy bass sound and careful rhythms for a dark-toned, harmonic and fairly smooth construction that due to clever details has an unnerving feeling of impending danger about it. Like walking through ancient woods in the middle of the night, just knowing that something is watching you. Vendelvarianter is another brilliantly assembled creation, gentle piano and accordion with a brooding, dark undercurrent again creating an unsettling atmosphere in an otherwise gentle and melodic affair. The concluding brief piece In the RIO also documents quite nicely how you can create a stunning short piece of music, a booming bass sound and frail piano supplemented by careful percussion for a glorious 90 seconds or so long composition. All in all this is a disc that showcases the sheer width and expanse of Lars Hollmer as a composer and musician both, and is well worth a visit due to that alone. That we're presented with many fine ideas and some brilliant songs to boot is something of a bonus for this specific kind of production. This isn't a regular studio album as such however, and those whose sole desire is to listen to a ready planned and finished regular creation will find this one less interesting presumably. Open minded and adventurous spirits, on the other hand, should have few problems in appreciating and acknowledging this album for what it really is.
TRACKLIST: 1. Viandra 3:52 2. Simfågeldans 4:48 3. Moro 1:45 4. Dron 4:20 5. Tama-Chan Snoa 3:40 6. Hestvisa 4:09 7. Portaletyde 3:41 8. Net 4:13 9. Utflykt Med Damcykel 6:04 10. Inte Quanta 2:54 11. Talrika 4:59 Extra material: 1. Portaletyde 4:03 2. Franska Valsen 2:47 3. Net 4:27 4. Hestvisa 3:42 5. Boeves Psalm 3:26 6. Dron 4:31 7. Inte Quanta 3:02 8. Interview LINEUP: Lars Hollmer – accordion, melodica; vocals Michel Berckmans – bassoon Fizze – accordion With (Miriodor): Pascal Globensky – keyboards Bernard Falaise – guitars Remi LeClerc – drums Marie-Chantal LeClair – saxophone Nicolas Masino – bass; keyboards Chantale Bergeron – violin
Analysis. Accompanying this production of sketches and ideas we have two live video recordings of Lars Hollmer, and if I have understood matters correctly they are just about the only ones in existence too. The first of these is from the prestigious Gouveia Art Rock festival's 2005 edition, where Hollmer and his accordion were, as Hollmer himself states in a brief interview on this DVD, a strange bird. Accordion music with firm sentiments in traditional folk music isn't regular fare at progressive rock festivals to my knowledge, but Hollmer was a skilled enough musician to get the crowd going still. The manner in which he at one point engages this particular crowd one that will make more people than me laugh heartily. A strong performance as long as you enjoy accordion music, although I suspect many progressive rock fans who watch this DVD may soon skip forward to the last song of the set, when Hollmer is joined by Miriodor to perform the stunning Talrika. Apart from that this is an excellent recording. The audio capture is excellent, the image quality good and sharp and with good color balance too. Not too many angles used in the recording process, but with a solitary performer for most of the concert and the majority of the rest with two performers that aren't really needed either. The second live set has been placed in the extra material section, and for good reason. This is a recording from a pub by way of a handheld device, possibly a cell phone. Grainy images, washed out colors and erratic movements make this a case of video footage for the specially interested, the dual accordion concert presumably also something that will have a limited appeal, at least among progressive rock fans. A nice addition of bonus material, as long as you regard it as just that and don't expect anything more from it. The brief interview with Hollmer at the end of the DVD is one made within a specific context, and as such isn't as interesting as it might have been. Well worth watching by all means, but some of the topics covered aren't really of any substantial interest anymore.
Conclusion. "With Floury Hands" is a production that easily merits a description as something else. A collection of more or less worked through ideas and some songs that appear to have been completed, carefully assembled four years after the death of the creator. The accompanying DVD, while of high quality, feature contents of a somewhat limited overall appeal, I guess. As such there's not much here that will appeal broadly. Existing fans of Hollmer and those with a taste for the unusual and uncommon will find plenty of interesting material however, and as long as you are aware of the context of this production it is a highly recommended one to this select audience.
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