Following up their aptly titled second album, 'Agusa 2', released just over two years ago, Malmö-based Swedish band Agusa have eschewed obvious sequential numbering to name their third full-length studio effort as simply 'Agusa'. An instrumental affair once again, it sees bassist Tobias Petterson, guitarist Mikael Ödesjö, drummer Tim Wallander, organist Jeppe Juul and Jenny Puertas on flute, combine their musical talents to create five tracks of thoroughly retro psych/folk/prog rock.
I said of this album's predecessor, which was comprised of just two lengthy compositions, that "it's more an album to feed your mood than create your mood, so listen to this in the right emotional state and it's rather magnificent." Such an observation is true of 'Agusa', too. Slow-burning builds tread the thin line between music and muzak where, if you're not in the mood to digest its inherent charms, it'd be in danger of washing over you. At least, that's the affect I've sporadically experienced while listening to this; while, at other times, it's been a sheer joy. This is certainly not an "anytime" album... for me, anyway.
This album also showcases the talents of newly recruited organ player Juul, after the departure of Jonas Berge, who left the fold at the start of the year (although, apparently, Berge has since returned for a few live shows, to double-up the band's organ attack). The organ playing here is great (his previous credits include an eclectic mix of work, including the Royal Danish Ballet!), as are all the performances. Progressions feel natural through their jamming vibe. Although, mixing up both wistful and buoyant melodies, the music can, at times, come across as a little too whimsical for its own good. A little too quaint, if you will, where it all seems to wallow in its own retro aesthetic. The final third of 'Sagor från Saaris' is a more than welcome additions to proceedings, where the track takes a darker, discordant turn. But this is a rare dissonant rupture in Agusa's music. It can, otherwise, feel a little too plodding in places... maybe even directionless... albeit the latter is part of the music's essence and improv feel.
Overall, I cannot declare this as any kind of majestic work of psychedelic prog brilliance, but it is a great little album when the mood suits. I suspect it'd make far more sense live. I can declare the cover as a majestic piece of art, though... quite beautiful, courtesy of Danilo Stankovic. Musically, though, I have to say that I do prefer 'Agusa 2', so this new one is a slight step backwards in terms of quality and numbering.
Review by Mark Holmes
27th Oct 2017
1) Landet Längesen
3) Den förtrollade skogen
4) Sagor från Saaris
5) Bortom hemom
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Progressions feel natural through their jamming vibe. Although, mixing up both wistful and buoyant melodies, the music can, at times, come across as a little too whimsical for its own good."