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AGUSA - Agusa

Agusa have a special place in my heart.

Ever since I happened to see the instrumental band from Sweden live two and a half years ago, I can't help but to be unconditionally in love with what they are doing.

Ok, not really unconditionally. If they released some really horrible garbage I would reconsider my stance, but at the moment I seriously don't see that coming. At least not at all with this new self-titled album.

AGUSA - Agusa (green vinyl) (2017)

The special thing about this band is almost impossible to grasp with words.

There are many instrumental psychedelic bands. There are also many groups worshipping classic prog rock from the seventies. What's different about Agusa?
One feature standing out immediately is the flute, which mostly either provides harmonies to guitar or organ or fills a substitute role for the absent vocals. But given that there is this certain band called Jethro Tull, this also isn't exactly uncharted land.

In fact, everything Agusa does has been done before, but it never sounds copied or cheap. On their first album there were some parts which reminded me too heavily of some role models, but since "Två" their sound has found the perfect balance between being self-contained and sounding familiar.

This is sophisticated music, but it speaks a naive language, where everything feels primal and natural. This leads to the effect that whenever I put on Agusa, it just gives me instant childlike joy. It just makes me feel like a toddler discovering the magic of music.

That being said, the band has shifted in tone and scope on this record.  Other than "Två" and the live recording "Katarsis" this isn't a two-track-record. Instead we hear five compositions between five and ten and a half minutes, showing slightly different facettes of the group in each one.

They have dialed back the freaky krautrock influences from the last studio album and are back to a more classic prog approach with lots of folky tunes in there.

It's also noteworthy that several parts and melodies are quite dark compared to their previous work. This doesn't diminish my instant-joy reaction though, because they don't throw the gloomier moods over their sound as something alienating, but stay within their established vocabulary.  So it's still Old Nan telling us little Brans some lore from magical times long ago, but this time her story isn't all about the Children of the Forest, but also includes some grim stuff about the Long Night and such.

All in all this album delivers everything the name Agusa promises, honouring but not repeating their former work. If I had to find something to whine about... Well, I prefer a creative title (even if it's swedish and I have no idea what it means) to none, especially since the band had just released a box of their former albums which was also just called "Agusa".

Other than that there is the cover artwork, which is totally marvelous and much more detailed than the first look reveals. Just try to find all those lurking faces! But it would have been even more beautiful presented in its full glory as an upright format gatefold.
But on the other hand I'm totally ok with not gatefolding single records, so umm...

[nitpicker mode off]

This is a great album from my favorite psychedelic retroprog band right now.

The following "highlights" are pretty random. I really can't choose any song over the other here. 

Highlights: Bortom Hemom, Landet Längesen, Den Förtrollade Skogen

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