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Afenginn
Klingra

Tutl/Cargo
Review by Chris Nickson

Itís been interesting to hear the way Afenginn have grown over the course of the seven albums since their 2004 debut. With each outing, the reach of leader/composer Kim Rafael Nyberg has grown by leaps and bounds, but with Klingra heís gone far beyond anything heís attempted before, capturing the great sweep that extends beyond the Denmark/Sweden/Finland axis and far out into the North Atlantic to the Faroe Isles.

But itís not solely the composition, which has long been edging towards something like this; the band itself has morphed, too. Four of the musicians from the last album are here (including Nyberg, who plays nothing this time around; heís become purely the composer and arranger), along with the Danish String Quartet and several Faroese musicians. Afenginn has always had a pan-Nordic vision, but this time itís taken on a different identity. At times itís epic, but the grandeur can be bleak and grey, a reflection of the land and seascapes, and a reliance on piano as the main instrument, with pedal steel in there for touches of colour while the two drummers use contrasting rhythms to lighten and syncopate the beat in very subtle ways.

Although it has several tracks listed on the sleeve, they effectively run quite naturally from one to the next, with the music itself made up of interlocking cycles of different lengths (true, too, for the lyrics, in Faroese, rather than an imagined language this time). Yet thereís never a sense of it being academic or mathematical. Quite the opposite; itís an album that feels weighted with beautiful longing and sorrow, the most emotional work Nyberg has written. There might be occasional similarities in mood and tone with Icelandís Sigur Růs (leaving the listener curious as to whether there is a kind of North ~Atlantic sensibility that moves Westward across the water in the path of the Viking ancestors), but this feels very much like a masterwork for Nybergís composition. Itís not rock, itís not folk, itís probably not classical. It simply is. Itís Afenginn music, and astonishingly good. For those who buy the vinyl, there are two apparently different run-on grooves, which offer varied ďlistening experiencesĒ as well as a closed loop at the end of the second side. Ė Chris Nickson

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