'Lycksalighetens ö', the second album from Hidden Lands, is heavyweight prog and for music lovers whose tastes embrace all extremes of the rock world, as mine do. This has proven to be another wonderful album to embrace, although this one has taken a few more listens to start unravelling its mysteries. Take the cover art, for instance, which is a near century old photograph of the Lycksalighetens ö park in the band’s hometown of Uppsala. Even for a prog album, it's perhaps not the sort of artwork you would expect, looking more like it should be fronting a classical album, but it certainly adds to the music. Thanks to the very informative PR blurb, it transpires that the album title is also the same as a 19th century Swedish novel. It roughly translates to 'The Island of Bliss' and if you are in the right mood, which I have to be when listening to music of this nature, then Hidden Lands have achieved the musical equivalent, albeit in quite a melancholic fashion!
I'm having a difficult task finding musical reference points because I'm certainly no connoisseur of this type of prog, although I can hear 'echoes' of Pink Floyd, IQ in their early days and, oddly, Shawn Phillips' theme tune to an old UK ITV show 'World In Action'. To be fair, though, reference points don't matter as long as the music is good and Hidden Lands have certainly delivered in that department. Six tracks over the course of nearly an hour should give you some indication that several of them are fairly long and 'Hidden Lands' (the song) comes in at just shy of twenty minutes. When vocalist Bruno Edling is used, his voice perfectly suits the style of music but much of 'Lycksalighetens ö' is instrumental with the keyboards of Hannes Ljunghall taking centre stage, although he does play the guitar to good effect as well in places. Hidden Lands are completed by the bass and drums of Phillip Bastin and Gustav Nyberg respectively and their contribution cannot go unnoticed because both treat the listener to a huge variety of off the wall timings and rhythms. From opener 'Corsican Daydream' (I love that title) to the aforementioned 'Hidden Lands' you are transported through a swathe of emotions, but it never veers into self-indulgent twaddle as many prog albums have done in the past.
Due to the amount and style of albums I usually listen to, 'Lycksalighetens ö' won't come out of the box often, but it will come out when the mood grabs me and if intelligent and beautiful prog music floats your boat and you have a bit more time than I do, I dare say you'll be completely captivated by Hidden Lands.
Review by Rick Tilley
30th Sept 2014
1) Corsican Daydream
3) In the Wind
4) Over Again
6) Hidden Lands
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...if intelligent and beautiful prog music floats your boat... you'll be completely captivated by Hidden Lands."