Now a fully paid-up member of the mighty progressive force that is Big Big Train, Rikard Sjöblom and his Gungfly project get Alone Together to challenge the prog expectancies.
Release Date: 4th September 2020
Label: InsideOut Music
Formats: CD digipak / DL / vinyl
Although he has fingers in several pies, there plenty in the Sjöblom tank. The Gungfly trio (Sjöblom with a rhythm section of Rasmus and Petter Diamant) get their teeth into a set that sees them aiming to hit their marks with a power trio that put the rock into prog.
It’s another album that takes the theme of relationships, a regular visitor dipping its head over the lyrical inspiration horizon. There’s a reflection on social media, the parent/child dynamic and even how the musicians themselves relate and interact with the environment in which they operate. There’s probably an album or a book on the latter which continues to provide ongoing challenges.
The shortest piece, From Afar. a brief acoustic ditty that’s essentially a Sjöblom solo piece, From Afar, provides the key line and inspiration for the album art. “A million eyes watching glimpses of each other’s lives.” Alone Together is a reminder of the days of Fragile and Nursery Cryme where longer epic pieces are punctuated with shorter tracks and minor vignettes. Feeling a little shoe-horned into the Prog sector, Sjöblom is keen to broaden his palette into ‘eclectic prog’ and check in with nods to a variety of genres.
So the opening thirteen minutes of Traveler, despite flourishes of keys that might be a close cousin to the Procul Harum sound, and funky Floyd snippet and guitar soloing that’s undeniably of a certain style, does its best to climb out of the box.
Happy Somewhere Inbetween is all pacey and bright. Keyboard licks flit in and out to add colour and texture on a guitar led piece before a bass and fizzing jazzy organ passage instrumental brings things to a close.
Clean As A Whistle has its more pastoral moments, some jazzy piano eventually building into a synth and guitar-led rock out. The two latter tracks are a perfect model of the interaction between the trio whilst avoiding the temptation to go overboard with layering different parts. The grander side of the band comes with the extended and grander arrangement On The Shoulders Of Giants. Again, resisting the urge to flex their instrumental muscles for the bulk of the piece until the extended ballad part passes into that power trio mode. It’s almost Yes territory at one point (does anyone else hear shades of Relayer?).
It’s time to acknowledge that Gungfly is a fabulous outlet for a skilled musician. The disappointment that Rikard Sjöblom is no longer doing Beardfish has passed.
Listen to the title track from the album here: