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(35:22; Norske Albumklassikere [2021 Edition] )
TRACK LIST: 1. Green Grass (4:58) 2. Not Going Bald (2:37) 3. See Me (6:07) 4. Take Off (0:55) 5. Help, I'm in the Middle of the World (3:38) 6. Rubber Boots (0:37) 7. People in Motion (3:09) 8. Sky Hy (3:05) 9. You Can Always Have a Go (3:06) 10. Omaka Si Pi (7:10) LINEUP: Ove Thue - vocals, guitars, idiophone Trygve Thue - vocals, guitars Rolf Skogstrand - vocals, bass Tom H. Halvorsen - vocals, piano, organ with: Gunnar Aas - drums, congas Magne Lunde - drums
Prolusion. Norwegian band SAFT started out back in 1969, and from that year and until they folded in 1974 they released three studio albums. "Horn" is the second of these, and was originally issued through the label Polydor back in 1971. A reissue on CD saw the light of day in 2021 through the project Norske Albumklassikere.
Analysis. Saft is among the very first progressive rock bands in Norway, and while I haven't explored any part of their legacy until now it is easy to hear why they made an impact back in the day. This is an album made long before genre conventions such as progressive rock were used in any extensive manner, and the music itself isn't one that can easily be categorized into any of the more detailed subgenre descriptions we have gotten so many of in later years either. From my point of view however, psychedelic progressive rock is probably the best general description to give this album. As the above description obviously indicates, this is very much an album of its time and its era, and the liberal use of psychedelic details is the most prominent aspect of this. That, and the inclusion of a number of shorter songs and interludes that are more firmly based on roots and Americana traditions, including the hit song 'People in Motion', a creation that wouldn't have been too much out of place on a Rolling Stones album from that particular era. The remaining parts of this album explores landscapes of a different nature altogether, and while the psychedelic details obviously are striking, elements from jazz are perhaps just as prominent too. Most of all by way of the rhythm department in general and the drums in particular, but many songs also feature nice, loose and wandering expressive electric piano details that have something of a jazz spirit to them. Some funky details appear here and there too, and very occasionally the vocals will be delivered in a manner that will at least have jazz as a point of reference in terms of the origins of the vocal style - cue the song 'Omaka Si Pi' as an example. Otherwise I do note references to 50's rock and roll, 60's era artists such as The Beatles and early 70's rock similar to Deep Purple spread throughout this production. Which, presumably, wasn't all that unusual for a band of this time period. The album as a whole has something of a laid back feel to it. There are energetic moments as well as spirited songs to be found, but for me at least it is the more relaxed yet expressive sections with a more laid back feel to them that makes the greatest impressions. When jazz, psychedelia and rock meet and blend in a happy threesome union.
Conclusion. A band like Saft and the music they explore on an album such as "Horn" is probably impossible to enjoy without having an affection for retro music, as so many details in the songs as well as how the album have been assembled, mixed and produced all come across as traits from a specific time and era. Those who do enjoy such productions, and generally enjoy bands blending elements from rock and jazz with liberal amounts of careful psychedelia, should find plenty to enjoy on this production.
Progmessor: September 2021
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