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John Lönnmyr — Aftonland
(Red Round Records, 2023, CD / DL / LP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-11-04

Aftonland Cover art

A rock keyboardist and composer based in Gothenburg, Sweden, Lönnmyr got his start back in the mid-90s as a founding member of Valinor’s Tree, playing keyboards and singing, and later joined Simon Says in 2009. Since those times he has composed music for theater and dance, arranged music for choirs and orchestras, and played with jazz, psychedelic, and improvising groups. He currently plays Hammond Organ in his blues trio Aunt Nancy, and since 2019 has been the keyboard player for the Swedish hard rock band Night Flight Orchestra. Lönnmyr released his first solo album, Ristor, in 2020, and Aftonland is his second, a (mostly) instrumental rock album with an ear toward vintage keyboard sounds of Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes, Mellotron, and analog synths; he also plays bass and guitars, but has guest players for those as well as trumpet, saxophone, and various drummers, track depending. Only the somewhat laid-back closer “Nostalghia” features the mostly spoken voice of Maria Palmqvist, though she does carry an unforgettable melody in the song’s closing section. It’s the mind-blowing opener “Ekipaget” that really sets the stage for everything that follows, set on top of a powerful bass and rhythm groove that’s completely drenched in Mellotron, with synths, guitars, and shimmering Hammond making regular appearances throughout its five minute duration. The title cut follows with a strong synth-driven melody that changes intensity and shifts around with regularity until a beautiful sax solo comes in and steals the show. A solo trumpet opens the calm and gentle “Vargtimmen” hinting at a jazzier groove with a bright synth solo as its centerpiece, with Rhodes and ‘tron supporting. Other standouts include the classically influenced “Traktatet” that offers multiple distinct sections and seems to portray a magnificent story line, and the intense and powerful groove and grandeur of “Gycklaren” makes it one of the most memorable of the album’s eight excellent tracks. Comparisons with Anekdoten around the time of their first or second album (sans cello) are inevitable, and folks who love that heavy vintage keyboard-centric progressive rock sound would do well to check out Aftonland.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): John Lönnmyr

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