The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of Bandjo's debut album

bandjo - swedish prog rock, album coverReview Snapshot: This welcome slice of Swedish prog-rock oozes sophistication, its ominous gems like shining soundscapes. Synth, 70s, flute, oriental notes – is there anything the duo haven’t covered on this album? A mere seven tracks long, this first full-length album from Stockholm’s finest leaves you wanting more.

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

Full Review: Bandjo. The name suggests a cowboy kicking back with his beaten up banjo, tinkling a few chords while chewing on straw.

That’s certainly why I didn’t expect Bandjo to be a prog-rock Swedish band. The name may not fit the bill, but their name fades into meaninglessness when you focus instead on their unique blend of post- and prog-rock.

The duo consists of Stockholm’s Jacob Haage and Fredrik Johansson. They debuted in 2008 on the B-side of label Force Majeure’s compilation: "Force Majeure; Force Vol.1: Tunguska". And now the band has released their first full-length record, with more variety than you could shake a stick at. In just seven tracks the band shows their strength and musical talent with blends of ambience, ominous drones and sleepy guitar.

Having recently fallen in love with Swedes (including the beautiful tones of First Aid Kit), Bandjo was further evidence why Scandinavians have been coming out with more than impressive music. The album begins with a meandering introduction to sound. Instrumental, lonely, and powerful, Sensu II gradually enters our consciousness with oriental notes and one distant voice penetrating the darkness.

Metropolis builds up with the sound of the pan-pipe and flute skipping across drums, synth dancing its way confidently through the melody. Unknown Island shines with a Celtic twang and shamanic drones, while the prominent bass-line in Space Weather is a reminder of French electronic duo Air. You and the Sun is their single that was released back in April. The track acts like a futuristic blend of synth-pop accompanying a shimmering, dark dream. Bandjo work well with contrasts, lending a lack of light to You and the Sun.

Treat yourself to this album. Its elasticity fits every mood and action: from walking home in the rain, to cleaning the house, to falling asleep for a nap.

Bandjo are musical masterminds that have created a gorgeous slice of Swedish rock.

Niamh Madden

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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.