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Monday, Aug. 29, 2011

Gösta Berlings Saga

Glue Works (Cuneiform Records)

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As more bands eschew lyrics for increasingly adventurous instrumental albums, Sweden's Gösta Berlings Saga has figured out how to create compelling music without succumbing to unlikable self-indulgence. Glue Works bonds the individual influences of each of this progressive-rock band's four members—plus wacky instrumentation with French horn, vibraphone, musical saw, Minimoog and bass harmonica—to create a compelling whole.

The Ventures, Gong, Mogwai and Yes have all been mentioned when referring to Gösta Berlings Saga's retro spirit, which can be heard from the outset on opener “354,” a melodic and straightforward but mesmerizing piece that evokes the drama and majesty that will play out over the album's six other tracks. The unexpected diversity allows for Middle Eastern pacing on “Waves,” sublime, exhausting guitar work on “Island” and a low-key breather on the two-minute “Geosignal.” Through it all, Glue Works sticks to its multifaceted musical mission while managing to remain cohesive.