Bror Forsgren - 'Narcissus'
I try not to read Album reviews before I review them myself, because I don’t want to have my opinion swayed – especially if the reviewer is from a national publication with far more knowledge and a better grasp of the English language than myself. But in the case of Bror Forsgren (The Lionheart Brothers, Jaga Jazzist) and his album ‘Narcissus’, I couldn’t really help it, because I actually found out about the album a few weeks back through a National newspaper review, and my eyes lit up when I read more about the artist and the album – regular readers of Nordic Music Review know that we love huge projects like this that throw together so many different genres and musical styles.
This certainly would win the prize for the most ambitious album of the year, it’s a hugely complex album that utilises an entire orchestra (not just a string quartet, we’re talking the full ensemble), and throws in a band and a massive number of influences - at various times I thought of Sufjan Stevens, Mew, Scott Walker, jamiroquai, Anton Bruckner and even the Cocteau Twins. But of course to name 6 other artists is missing the point, because Bror Forsgren is probably pulling together 1000 different influences from his life to create one huge, if very personal, musical ‘extravaganza’.
It is impossible to succinctly write a few words to describe the tracks in detail, you just have to go listen for yourself. But my favourite tracks include ‘In a Time Where God Was One’ opening with Brass and driving strings, and lyrics that demonstrate early the personal nature of the project. ‘Still in the Wind’ is beautifully arranged, with strings portraying those winds perfectly, whilst ‘Any Day Now’ is a great upbeat and positive track – this is not an album steeped too much in melancholy. But the centrepiece of the album is the grandiose ‘Tired of the Sun’, a monstrous 10 minutes where every instrument is thrown in, with Mahler style strings, a ‘Rachmaninovesque’ pianist, acoustic guitars and dreamy vocals, and I really love it. But the final track 'Try Try Again' is great too, with a simpler opening, falsetto vocals before the strings are introduced with a glitzy accompaniment and a ‘Jellyfish' style melody – its all immensely likable.
‘Narcissus’ is a spectacular achievement, and a hugely enjoyable listen. It's also true to say that there’s enough layers and depth of arrangements to keep you listening for years. Occasionally I’ve struggled with the complexities and size of those arrangements, but mostly it still feels personal enough to engage with and it leaves with me a really positive feeling. I have no idea if Bror Forsgren is planning a follow up, I certainly hope so, but an album of this size and depth seems such an enormous undertaking that I guess we might have to be patient. In the meantime please give 'Narcissus' the chance that it deserves.
Nordic Music Review 8.5/10
Don't forget to check out our World Premiere of the the new Nana Jacobi video 'Into My Arms'.... it has an extraordinary story behind it...