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 Agren, and Mats Oberg. 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

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Richard Barbieri - Stranger Inside – Richard Barbieri’s second solo album is an altogether different beast than 2006’s insightful textural melee Things Buried. Again pairing with veteran band mate from Japan (the band) Steve...  (2009) » Read more

Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart - Earth Born – Some may remember Wishart from her brief tenure as a member of Hawkwind in the early 90s (she was featured on the Space Bandits studio album, and the live Palace Springs and Live at Nottingham 1990...  (2008) » Read more

Atlantide - Atlantide – Jean-Pierre Massiera had somewhat of a reputation for putting together one-shot bands that record and promptly die. Another one of his 'projects' was Visitors, which we reviewed back in #6....  (1996) » Read more

The Mistakes - The Mistakes – A collaboration between four diverse and experienced musicians, The Mistakes turns in as fun and challenging a listen as its lineup promises it to be. Virtuoso guitarists Mike Keneally and Henry...  (1996) » Read more

Porcupine Tree - Signify – On their latest release, Signify, Porcupine Tree continues to consolidate and refine the approach used on their previous release, The Sky Moves Sideways. While Sky was essentially a one-man show by...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues