Svanfríður

What's Hidden There?

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This Icelandic boogie band never had much success outside their homeland, but that doesn't diminish their achievement. Opening track "The Woman of Our Day" is a slippery blues-rock track that recalls early Blue Öyster Cult (think "Before the Kiss, A Redcap" or "Stairway to the Stars") with clean, non-accented English-language vocals. The second track, "The Mug," is a progressive rock exploration reminiscent of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis (albeit slightly less musically complex), dominated by acoustic instruments like piano, acoustic guitar, and gentle, jazzy drums. The rhythm section is remarkably supple throughout, making the music swing as much as it rocks, and the vocalist sounds like a cross between Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson and Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. On the next song, "Please Bend," they undergo yet another metamorphosis, pairing fuzz guitar with sawing violin for a hillbilly blues-rock stomp. By the fourth track, which imitates a Jethro Tull ballad flute and all, the relentless shifting begins to grow slightly tiresome. The album's second half settles into a more conventional proggy, hard rock groove, with plenty of distorted guitar solos and a piano-led rhythm section, allowing the listener to finally get a sense of what the band was really about, rather than who they were influenced by. Overall, What's Hidden There? is a very good record by a band that seems to have found its path halfway through the sessions.

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