2. Vinsta Guldklocka
3. Basement Traps
4. Close To Home
5. Konkret Musik
6. Closing Borders
7. To Never Return
8. Instrument VI
9. The Pugilist
10. A Fucking Good Man
11. Förbifart Stockholm
12. A Question of Currency
Konkret Musik is the sixth studio album by the Swedish prog rockers of Gösta Berlings Saga.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus chaos, the band have completed work on their astonishing new album, Konkret Musik. Buoyed by the effusive response to their big label debut, they have marched stoically forward along their own unique path, discovering a brand new way to blow minds in the process
“I think the response to Et Ex made us feel rightfully bold and adventurous,” says drummer Alexander Skepp. “If there was any sense of us being a bit nervous or concerned before, I think we’ve managed to let go of that now. This new album has 12 tracks on it, which is by far the most we’ve ever had on an album. We just tried to explore in every possible direction that we could, so we had a range of ideas, instead of trying to find a common thread and picking seven songs in that vein. What we started out with was just skeletons of songs, basically, and it could’ve ended up with us saying ‘Fuck this! This is too much hard work!’ but somehow we pulled it all apart and made it ours. That’s when the fun part of creativity happens, I think.”
If their previous records were defined by sprawling, multi-genre epics that hinged on spiralling intricacy and muscular crescendos, Konkret Musik represents a wholesale refinement, as the GBS sound is reborn in succinct and vital three or four-minute bursts, with each song kicking open the musical door to another exhilarating, alien world.
“I think we’ve started to drift into liking shorter songs in general,” says guitarist Rasmus Booberg. “The idea of the epic is a little overplayed. It’s like a compulsion for many progressive or instrumental bands. In a way it’s more progressive to do a three-minute instrumental and fuck the stereotypes! I think that’s why we recorded almost this entire album live. That’s so much harder with ten-minute epics! This way, you get way more different flavours over an album.”
“This is like a good reduction, when you make a sauce,” grins Alexander. “It’s our band, but very condensed. The songs are shorter and more punchy. They still have the trademarks, such as the strong melody lines and very powerful, unexpected chord progressions, but it’s still much more condensed and much grittier, too. It’s fragments of things that could inspire you as you get on with your everyday life. It’s like the soundtrack to whatever you’re up to, whether it’s renegotiating your mortgage or shoplifting beer or whatever! (laughs) It’s powerful, I think.”
Although long-time fans of this band will inevitably recognise certain tics, tropes and characteristics from previous Gösta Berlings Saga outings, Konkret Musik is plainly a very different beast from its predecessors, not least due to the extensive and expansive use of synthesisers. Always an integral part of the Swedes’ sound, these modular sonic wonders have been fully exploited this time round, leading to a curiously timeless and emotionally powerful listening experience. From the propulsive grooves of opener Släpad to the dreamy ambience of Close To Home and on to the Kraut-punk thunder of the title track and To Never Return’s film noir clatter, it’s a celebration of arcane and unheard electronic sounds colliding with the human touch.
“It’s way more electronic, with more synthesizers,” nods Alexander. “That’s something we’ve wanted to explore for many years, but for many reasons we haven’t been able to align on how we wanted to sound. But this time we got on with doing what we liked, finding the right synth sounds, programming for ages to find the right feel for it.”
“We worked with Daniel Fagerström who did our last album,” Rasmus continues. “He produced this album with another friend, Anton Sundell. A lot of the synth stuff was supervised by Fagerström – he has a lot of old, weird synthesisers, not just the classic ‘70s and ‘80s stuff, but also some really weird sounds! The album is, of course, inspired by a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s synth music, but this is also something really different. He’s a very experimental producer!”