MOON SAFARI
Blomljud
(Blomljud)

 

Scandinavia has a pretty impeccable record when it comes to progressive rock and pop as it was a key country during the genesis of prog-rock back on the continent back in the early ‘70s. Now in 2010, 30 years after the end of the ‘70s now, prog continues to grow in Sweden with a whole new generation of musicians, over the past ten or fifteen years. One band carrying on the tradition of the ‘70s with a vital infusion of post-prog rock in 2010 is Moon Safari. In the spirit of Swedish guitarist Roine Stolt and The Flower Kings, and looking back from great European bands of the ‘70s like Dutch prog-rockers Kayak, the second Moon Safari album, a double CD set entitled Blomljud is just the ticket to take the band’s sound far and wide. Prog mavens at The Laser’s Edge in New Jersey rightly described the Moon Safari sound as a cross between recent Swedish proggers like The Flower Kings with a touch of late ‘90s Yes and a penchant for Brian Wilson’s wall of sound vocal harmonies. The first Moon Safari album, A Doorway To Summer was recorded in wake of the band’s formation in 2003 but their 2008 double CD set, Blomljud is really something to behold. With all the music written by the group, the group’s four part harmony sound truly sets them apart from many other prog-rock groups and in the spirit of prog icon Jon Anderson of Yes, the Moon Safari sound is really upbeat. With long extended tracks, with some that run over twenty minutes, much of the Moon Safari music is written by the group’s lead vocalists Simon Åkesson (keyboards) and Petter Sandström yet there’s plenty of key contributions from Pontus Åkesson(guitars), Johan Westerlund (bass) and Tobias Lungdren (drums). Clearly a growing band with much talent, Moon Safari continues to hone in on their song writing skills and let’s hope they develop even stronger melodies for their big breakthrough release which is coming in 2010 with the planned title Lover's End. myspace.com/wespintheworld


MUSIC WEB EXPRESS 3000 presents
JOHAN WESTERLUND of the group MOON
SAFARI


Guitars Center Stage
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Musical Background

Our musical background as a group is very much fragmented. Simon, who plays all keyboards and is one of our lead vocalists and his brother Pontus, our lead guitarist, both grew up with choir music as their first form of musical expression. Their father being a world renowned choir leader and all, it was the natural place for them to start. For both of them, a lot of the bands that we end up playing alongside at festivals are as foreign as the actual concept of what is traditionally called progressive rock. I think those ingredients in our music are very important. Ignorance is actually bliss in that aspect, as they can look at what we are making without the frame and the mental restrictions that comes from having an idea of what the truth of a particular type of music is. It frees us when we create songs.

The other side of our background that certainly influences our sound is Petter's upbringing in a home that praised The Beatles, The Byrds and Bruce Springsteen alike. He was the one shaping the message from the start. Even though at the the time of us getting together both me and him probably considered progressive acts like Shadow Gallery, Marillion, Genesis and Yes as the highest forms of music, his early influences certainly shines through in Moon Safari and it will do so even more so on this our third album, Lover's End, which will be released summer 2010. The love of The Beatles and other inventive pop bands like CSN, Jellyfish and The Beach Boys is actually something that unites us all, and pop music is probably our common ground from where everything spreads. If you listen to our music it's quite obvious that what we are making is essentially pop songs, with pop-song structures, but set in a musical context that allows us excess of 18th century proportions.

What I'm getting at is that we are not traditional instrumentalists; we are all really just singers, songwriters, and musical lovers. Pontus and Simon and Tobias did start playing their instruments at an early age, and me and Petter quite a bit later, but we came together as a group because we had a common idea of how songs should be written, and so the playing was secondary. Although, we truly enjoy each others company playing both in the studio, in the rehearsal room and on stage.

Another thing about our background that has shaped us is that, except from our eminent drummer Tobias, we all grew up in the same small village in the north of Sweden, called Bergsbyn. We like to believe that our mindset comes from that place, those people and the atmosphere that we grew up in. It's our holy ground, our mental home, and even though we don't live there anymore the place unites us in a strange way and makes us one when we create. There must have been something in the water.


New CD

The new CD as I mentioned that we are releasing in 2010, is going to be called Lover's End, but the way we recorded Blomljud and how we do it now is quite similar. First we lay down the drums. Tobias plays to a background which often is just one or two keyboards recorded as a frame for his playing. We use Cubase 4 to record. Then the Hammond B3, which we borrowed from Black Bonzo, the other progressive act in our town, is added. Then the bass gets in there and then Anders Pettersson’s pedal steel guitar. Anders’ playing is something that sets us apart from normal bands in the genre; we use the pedal steel guitar to create a certain atmosphere, and it really works out, he creates a flow in the music and is often just improvising everything. He had never heard the songs on Blomljud before the actual recording and it's almost disturbing how well he handles the 100 minutes music in his head, he's kind of like our 6th member. The acoustic guitars then were recorded with two Neumann U47 mics; both close to the guitar, one around the 12th fret and another one further up the neck. The Ibanez 12 string sounds especially good using this technique, it actually always sound good even though it is relatively cheap.

After that we move and work on the guitar parts and the keyboards in Petter's home studio. The electric guitar is recorded through our recently acquired PodFarm by Line6. That is a great easy way to save a lot of money on studio costs, and as this pre amp is very diverse and has really authentic sounds, it’s a great alternative to the 1969 Fender Twin reverb which Pontus plays on live. Blomljud was actually Pontus first album with the band, as he joined right before we started recording. His guitar-playing has since become an important part of our music and I dare say that on Lover's End his position in the sound is going to be even more prominent. For the vocals we've used a Neumann U47 for all our recordings, which has worked really well for us. It has very subtle, very genuine qualities and basically leaves the sound emanating from the singer untouched and unaltered. That's our basic set up equipment wise when we record.


Favorite Guitars

Pontus used a Gibson Les Paul to record his electric parts and a Simon & Patrick 6 string for his acoustic additions. He uses Elixir strings.

Petter, besides using his 12 string Ibanez for the acoustic parts also uses a Fender Stratocaster when he adds some touches of electric guitar.

I play both a Ric and a Thunderbird, and also on Blomljud I used a Gibson Ripper for the most part. My amp is the Fender Bassman 100+ 4x12 cab which I've used on everything we've done. To me Fender beats Ampeg every day of the week even when it comes to bass amplification.

The keys that Simon uses live are all from Clavia—Nord Wave and Nord electro 2; this way we get the entire spectra of progressive keyboard sounds with only two actual keyboards. On Blomljud we used the different mellotrons from the Nord Wave and the rest; moog, piano, pads were all software. Tobias plays Pearl custom drums with mainly Sabian cymbals.


Musical Influences

Pontus, when asked at an American festival who his influences were, he said, off the top of his head, Mike Holmes from IQ. Actually, both him and Petter are great fans of his sound. His earlier inspiration comes more from players like Ola Andersson from A.C.T, Pat Metheny or John Petrucci.

Petter greatly enjoys the work of Francis Dunnery, George Harrison, Roger McGuinn, but also guys like Piff Williams.

For me it's Chris Squire that remains the top choice. His sound is unmistakable and far more charming than that of any other bass player.

For Simon it’s his affection for vocal groups that stand out; The Hi-Lo’s, Singers Unlimited, Take 6 and so on. His favorite composer is the legendary Gene Puerling; who founded and led the two first of the aforementioned groups.

Tobias’ favorite drummers are Jaime Salazar from the Flower Kings and Paul Cook from IQ; both chosen for their subtle and tasteful yet surprisingly advanced playing, he says. But he also told me not to leave out Phil Collins.

Upcoming Plans

We will perform for the first time in England in March. That will be a great experience. Besides that we are working on the third album right now and following that we hope to be able to make the trip across the pond again at some point. During 2010 or maybe 2011.


Web Site


If anyone wants to check us out our most communicative forum is on Facebook; so you can look us up there. Otherwise it's myspace.com/wespintheworld if you wanna listen as well. And if you're interested in buying the music our CD's can be found on American soil at www.kinesiscd.com or www.lasercd.com. If anyone has more questions about the band or the music the email is: info@moonsafari.se

A big thank you from the band! Hope to see you guys in the future! Cheers!

 

 
   
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