Exposé Online banner

Simon Steensland — The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble
(Musea MP3013.AR, 1994, CD)

by Henry Schneider, 1994-12-31:

The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble Cover art

This new release on Musea’s Parallele series is essentially a solo effort by Simon Steensland with a little help on guitar and keyboards from his friends Johan Boberg, Pelle Halvarsson, Joakim March, Herman Muntzing, Morgan Ågren, and Mats Öberg. Steensland plays drums, percussion, keyboards, bass, accordion, synths, berimbau, and flute to forge an intelligent blend of King Crimson, Heldon, and Magma with a dash of Frohmader. This is rich music full of complex chord and rhythm changes, dissonance, and virtuoso playing from the opening percussive fusion of "Mandrill" to the closing chamber music of "Could You... If I...?" Steensland’s compositional skills and musicianship are exemplary achieving a highly listenable yet intellectual suite of music. With a release of this caliber I find it difficult to name favorite passages, all are deserving of praise. The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble is a new high water mark in Post-Classical music, enriching a genre not explored enough today. If you have even a passing interest in the above mentioned musicians, I strongly recommend you buy this CD.


by Peter Thelen, 1994-05-01:

Cutting-edge, unpretentious and imaginative are three adjectives that describe this offering by Swedish multi-instrumentalist and composer Simon Steensland. Mixing elements of rock, neo-classical, jazz, some folk, and sensible sonic experimentation, Steensland has created a purely instrumental album of great depth and emotion, yet it maintains a sensibility of variety throughout - an album that would seem more at home on the Cuneiform label. Any general comparisons are not easy, as the music keeps taking different turns in many directions: on most tracks, Steensland plays percussion and keyboards, and mallets (or samples thereof), plus occasional cello, fuzzbass, accordion, berimbau, and other exotics. He is joined by a rotating guest list providing additional keyboards, guitar, bass, violin, cello and accordion. The album opens with "Mandrill," a high-tension track dominated by drums, synth and mallets, one that may recall the recent work of Daniel Denis. Then on to "Antischnurvewicklungsperre" — imagine Art Zoyd with a drummer, then throw a searing guitar solo on top of it all. Other standout tracks include "Nightingirl," where hard hitting fuzzbass and synth-bells paint a menacing zeuhl styled backdrop for a powerful and intense melodic buildup, leading to Morgan Ågren's 'electric chainsaw' solo, and "Doctor Locton," a mechanized orgy for offbeat percussion, electric bass, and synths. "Only in France" features a lonely Frippian guitar lead over dissonant accordion chords; "Alexandra," a solo piece for keyboards and marimba may remind of Kit Watkins' "Spring 1980." Some of the tracks here have a more programmed feel, akin to Thierry Zaboitzeff's Dr. Zab — two tracks in this category, "The Shadow of a Dog" and "The Hunchback's Dance," stand out with a dark, foreboding starkness that makes for some fairly challenging listening. Wisely, the more abstract material has been pushed out towards the last half of the disc. In all, this is excellent music that will appeal to the discriminating listener. If you are looking for the next Marillion, then Steensland's ensemble may not be for you.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 3 , 1994 releases

Related artist(s): Morgan Ågren, Simon Steensland

More info

Latest news

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Bill Bruford with Ralph Towner and Eddie Gomez - If Summer Had Its Ghosts – When Bill Bruford is on break from his drum duties with King Crimson, what would you expect him to do? Should he go on vacation or work in another less hectic, but rewarding mode? If Summer Had Its...  (1998) » Read more

Sonus Umbra - Snapshots from Limbo – I was a little worried when I saw the names Luis Nasser and Jeff Laramee in the credits for this disc. They are both in the band Kurgan’s Bane, along with singer Lisa Francis (who provides guest...  (2002) » Read more

Piano Circus featuring Bill Bruford - Skin and Wire – Bill Bruford’s last new studio recording before his announced retirement is seamlessly intertwined with the improvisational two man, two woman unit Pianocircus. Performing the compositions of...  (2010) » Read more

Opus Avantra - Lyrics – Opus Avantra (see overview in issue #7) were quite a unique combo. Led by Alfredo Tisocco and vocalist Donella del Monaco, Opus Avantra have been around since the mid 70s when they released two highly...  (1996) » Read more

Pangée - Hymnemonde – There's been a buzz about this album since early this spring, indeed it was highly touted by all who had heard it, which made this writer both curious and a little suspicious — knowing how...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues