Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: Fredrik - Trilogi (* * * 1/2)

Swedish collective Fredrik impressed me a couple years ago with the release of their debut, Na Na Ni, so I was obviously quite excited when word reached me that their second LP was on it's way. Then came a release delay that put it nearly out of mind for a couple months until recently when I finally got a chance to hear the new record, much later than I had anticipated. Though it doesn't perhaps reach the high standard set by its predecessor, Trilogi was worth the wait, a strong sophomore record which makes some improvements and shows a band willing and able to progress beyond their initial boundaries. This sophomore effort is named for the way in which it was conceived, starting as a series of three EPs that the group eventually combined to form the 13 tracks of a full-length album that works very cohesively despite its scattered origin and should help to establish Fredrik as yet another noteworthy Swedish musical export.

The most important improvement Trilogi makes upon Fredrik's debut has more to do with its presentation as a whole than with the individual tunes. Na Na Ni was entertainingly inventive and successfully so, but its variation also caused the album to feel pieced together and occasionally slight - at least on first listen. The group's latest is considerably more substantial and purposeful, with a darker musical and lyrical theme. The band still experiments with a wide array of organic and electronic elements, switching between seemingly nonsensical lyrics and moody instrumental pieces, but the record flows convincingly in one direction where before it never felt settled. Perhaps as a result of the album's focus on unity, the songs on Trilogi don't impress as immediately and the music is slightly more predictable in its execution, but the way in which it all comes together is gorgeous.

Various and unique instruments ( including harp, bells, xylophone and plenty which I couldn't accurately identify) comprise the music of Trilogi, and when composed in such a beguiling way, Fredrik truly sounds like nobody else. Highlights from the album include the delicate, spare "Milo," the edgier "Ner" and the constantly shifting "Locked in the Basement," with each tune revealing more upon the repeated listens that the album seems to demand. And though the pace occasionally drags over a weak track or two, the whole of this immaculately composed and impressively detailed record is an experience worth having and the second consecutive example of Fredrik's considerable talent and inspiration.

Locked in the Basement