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Pocket Size - 2014 - "Exposed Undercurrents"

(54:29, ‘Pocket Size’)


1.  Portrait of the Artist as a Composer 4:20
2.  Orbits 6:07
3.  En Kamouflerad Onskan 4:34
4.  Evil Lullaby 6:38
5.  Horwood House 1:53
6.  Windmill 4:56
7.  Pickle Guys 6:28
8.  FM 2:34
9.  Chromosome 7:19
10. Berlin 2:47
11. Sagan 6:53


Peter Pedersen – guitars; vocals
Kristian Brink – saxophone, flute
Simon Svard – guitars
Lars Ekman – bass 
Rasmus Svensson-Blixt – drums
Leo Lindberg – Hammond 
Sean Nowell – saxophone
Rolf Arnsen – vibraphone 
Lisa Ekelund – theremin
Tom Hesch – vocals

Prolusion. The Swedish project POCKET SIZE is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Peter Pedersen, a venture that started out back in 2010 and with one single and two full-length albums to its name so far. "Exposed Undercurrents" is the band’s most recent outing, self-released in 2014.

Analysis. Sweden is rather well known as a haven for bands with a desire to explore what might be described as retro rock of various kinds, artists and bands that look back to the ‘70s for inspiration, seeking to emulate or replicate the mood, atmosphere, sound and spirit of what many describe as the golden decade in rock music. Pocket Size fits quite nicely into this general context, although with a certain approach and attitude, not to mention style, that isn't quite as common in this environment. What is crystal clear after having a few runs through this CD is that these guys have a passion for vintage rock. That they use both a vibraphone and a theremin on the album is one detail that emphasizes that, and the extensive use of the Hammond as a key instrument throughout kind of forces the music to take on a specific ‘70s sound in itself, in this case paired off with a rather vintage sounding guitar or two, and with liberal amounts of saxophone thrown in for good measure. Pocket Size does wander around a bit in this landscape, with an almost demented hard jazz-rock affair kicking off the album, followed by a calmer, careful organ and flute-driven affair that, to my mind, has a bit of a Procol Harum feel to it. The following En Kamouflerad Onskan is one of relatively few songs with lead vocals, and this one is closer to the likes of Uriah Heep or Deep Purple in terms of style and general mood. Later on a few shorter interludes dip their toes into more of a vintage jazz-rock landscape, one rather smooth and listener friendly, the other a wilder, distorted affair with more of a free-form aesthetic to it. The greater majority of the material resides elsewhere however. Mainly dark, majestic and powerful arrangements are key elements in those songs, with dark-toned guitars, powerful organ textures and a liberal variety of saxophone bursts, solo runs, shrill bursts and dark-toned textures all assemblimg in different constellations and variations. A kind of music that exists somewhere in between vintage King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator. Dark, powerful and engaging material at the band’s most compelling, pleasantly brooding and subtly dramatic in a compelling manner even at the least interesting of times.

Conclusion. Pocket Size is a project that does cover a lot of ground on this production, and a certain taste for variety will be needed to appreciate the charms of this CD. Rather more important is to find the use of the classic Hammond organ to be of general interest of course, and a certain affection for material with jazz and psychedelic details is probably needed as well. But, at least to my ears, the most important aspect of the album is the King Crimson meets Van Der Graaf Generator feel on the majority of the material here, and I suspect that those who enjoy the earlier exploits by both of these bands should find this album to be a charming general experience.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 16, 2016
The Rating Room

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