Greg Northrup    21-August-2002 Barndomens Stigar

This album was once described to me as "National Health with Magma bass," and after giving it some weeks of focused listening, I think that description pretty much holds up, though slightly oversimplified. There are a wealth of other influences here, especially hints of Scandinavian folk music and traces of old-school RIO. Still, the enchanting Canterbury sensibility pinned down by a throbbing rhythm section replete with growling, unrelenting basslines is the most striking, and ultimately most attractive, feature of Barndomens Stigar. The music here seems heavily composed, rendering less of an improvisational, solo-based air than you'd find on many of the classic Canterbury albums. The themes here are impossibly dense and complex, with a heavy, thought-out interplay between the superior bass and the barrage of organ, piano and Fender Rhodes.

"Hvga Hdstar" opens the album with a pummeling bass and drums groove that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the CD, kicking the listener squarely in the ass while severe organ and keyboard riffs complement the rhythm. "Vemod" is slightly more toned down, at least at points, and introduces a flute-like instrument that is used often throughout, as well as female vocals that bear more than a passing resemblance to the Northettes from the Hatfield & the North albums. Both of these elements are heavily utilized on the album, and the unique wind instrument textures actually render the title track among the best cuts on the album. Passages of throttling bass and shimmering electric piano are offset by heavily ethnic themes, making for an absolutely beautiful and addictive juxtaposition of influences. "Grottekvarnen" heavily features the wordless female vocals, which chant along over a impossibly catchy, up-tempo instrumental theme, another highlight. The bonus tracks on here were actually recorded for the reissue in 1992, and are surprisingly good considering the circumstances. In fact, they don't sound out of place on the CD at all. "Hdxdans" in particular stands out, once again using the ethnic flute as a melodic basis.

Unfortunately, this is the only album that Kultivator did, yet stands on its own as one of the finest albums to come out of Sweden, or all of Scandinavia for that matter. A killer recording that provides a hearty blend of zeuhl and Canterbury, and should appeal to fans of both those genres.

Sjef Oellers 14-April-2001 Bardomen Stigar

Excellent, inventive progressive with elements of RIO, Magma, Scandivian folk, and the Canterbury scene. The album is largely instrumental, although pleasant female vocals are included as well. The guitar playing is somewhat similar to Fred Frith in Henry Cow's days. Mainly piano and organ are the keyboards of choice, with no digital 80s sounding synths at all. Mostly the mood on the album is relaxed, although there are several intense, almost martial passages that recall Magma (not in sound, but in atmosphere). A minor classic of the Scandinavian scene.

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