Description: Hailing from Sweden, Nomads of Hope is a project at whose core are two former members of late 70s outfit Kultivator, multi-instrumentalists Johan Hedrén and Ingemo Rylander, whose lovely vocals provide one of the album’s undisputed highlights. Their debut album, Breaking the Circles for a While, combines medieval and world music influences with haunting trip-hop suggestions in a unique mix of darkness and light, minimalism and complexity. Highly recommended to those who are constantly on the lookout for creative approaches to progressive music.
Every once in a while an album comes along for review that is difficult to categorise, or to describe adequately. Breaking the Circles for a While is one such release. This unique and elegant album is saturated with a distinctive style that permeates its 12 tracks. It has many disparate and charming elements. In short it is great.
Nomads of Hope is a duo, comprising of ex-Kultivator members Ingemo Rylander and Johan Hedren. The music is complex, stylistically bold and laden with emotion. The duo never falters in their quest to innovate or experiment, or in their attempt to create a challengingly different, song-based album.
I had the pleasure of reviewing former Kultivator member Stefan Carlsson's enjoyable Lost Kite Two release in 2014. It is terrific to see, in the form of Nomads of Hope, yet more past members of this eclectic, but now defunct Swedish band still producing good quality music, that stretches across musical boundaries.
In essence though, Breaking the Circles for a While mines the same rich vein of primeval rhythms and the same range of feelings that Gazelle Twin managed to do so successfully, in her Unflesh album. Whilst GT's work was deliciously bleak and industrial, this release is warmer and much less reliant on creating, or imposing, a disturbing futuristic soundscape upon the listener.
Both releases have at times a minimalist approach in terms of instrumentation, but each is able to create a bewitchingly expansive sound. The use of guitar, whistles and harp alongside more usual instruments, gives this album a more traditional canvas on which its artistic vision is placed and created. The shockingly disconcerting final product of Unflesh, was generated by GT's reliance on electronics and voice. Like Unflesh, Breaking the Circles for a While is essentially a collection of unique and well-crafted songs that do not rely heavily upon conventional song structures.
On tracks such as The Day, Every Day Break, Hear My Voice, and I Use to Forget there are certainly analogous points of reference with Unflesh, in terms of style and ambience. The music contained in Unflesh though, is perhaps even more radical and challenging than the stimulating and interesting approach to song-writing taken here.
Whilst GT's work is overwhelming, as it compellingly draws the listener in, Nomads of Hope does not demand that sort of response being much less intense, and as a consequence, equally, if not more appealing.
Nevertheless there are many similarities. Both have a bewitching rhythmic quality that penetrates the consciousness. Both use synthesisers as a coiling backdrop for the vocalist's rich range. Both GT and Rylander utilise an impressive array of vocal dynamics to surprise and hold attention. Power and frailty are equally conveyed, and are at the heart of their respective performances. Both albums are never lyrically trite or inane, and each has a thoughtful message to convey.
In tracks such as, Connections, Politics and Dreams and All Nights, Kate Bush rather than Gazelle Twin might be considered to be a more useful point of reference. Much of Nomads of Hope's music is attractively refined. In this respect, the beautiful and superbly fashioned Kindly Words stands out. In Gloomy Silvernight a spaciously-open and joyous Celtic feel is created by the use of whistles. This track is rhythmically infectious and instrumentally rich. The instruments chosen and ambience created, emphasise the point, that despite its title, this is a tune not in any way shrouded in grey. My favourite track is Every Day Break.
In the Shadows is somewhat less alluring, but is appealingly awash with cascades of Mellotron. This has the desired effect of gently lapping the listener, as vintage sounds help to coax and lull the tune gently into life.
In keeping with the overall, enjoyably minimalistic nature of the album, I will conclude by jotting down some aspects of the release that I found particularly attractive. I could have noted down an almost inexhaustible number of things, but in the end I restricted myself to seven gilt-edged words: Courageous, Quirky, Innovative, Atmospheric, Engaging, Frenzied and Unpredictable.
I strongly suggest that you check out this refreshingly different album, and who knows, you may even be moved to create your own list of gold-plated words to describe its many qualities.
Owen Davis at DPRP
Nomads of Hope is the Swedish duo of Ingemo Rylander and Johan Hedrén, both formerly of the progressive rock band Kultivator. They met in the '70s and through the years have been involved in other musical projects and over this time have collected snippets of musical ideas that have led to their debut album Breaking The Circles For A While.
Rylander (vocals, recorder, tin whistle, bass, saz, harp) and Hedrén (digital and analog synthesizers, pianos, Mellotron, guitar, drums, wavedrum, darbouka, percussion) play an ethereal brand of rock that has elements of prog, trance, world music and folk. This isn't an album that will hit you hard with heavy rhythms and in your face musicianship as the band prefers a more subtle and laid back approach.
The title track begins the album with gentle guitar arpeggios, lush female vocals and processed electric guitar giving the music an added electronic element. Ingemo has a nice voice, with a very soft delivery. "In The Shadows" features layered guitar and lush Mellotron strings while "Every Daybreak" is very ethereal with placid cascades of guitar, layered vocals and an overall trippy vibe. "The Day" reminded me Security-era Peter Gabriel with its thick bass and interesting percussion. "All Nights" is a shorter tune with gentle guitar rhythms and spacey background textures, quite trippy and otherworldly, while the album ending "Water Flowing" has a mellow hip hop electronic sound, with Ingemo's haunting lead vocals.
The CD comes in a tasteful digipack and the artwork, done by Ingemo, is quite nice. It is refreshing to see an independent production exuding so much quality.
Breaking The Circles For A While is a nice debut from a band doing something a bit different than your average pop/rock production. Hopefully, there will be another disc soon as this duo has tremendous potential.
A refreshing album of gorgeous, often hypnotic music that mixes sounds that are at times reminiscent of LUSH, ROBIN GUTHRIE, KATE BUSH, PETER GABRIEL, and even JON HASSELL. Highly recommended.
1. "Breaking the Circles" (3:00) Opens with some heavily treated guitar familiar to me from years ago via Jan Akkerman and The Edge. There is a little PINGVINORKESTERN in Ingemo's vocal's melodic sense. though her soprano floats and lilts over the top of the music sounding a lot like Lush's Miki Berenyi. (9/10)
2. "In The Shadows" (3:21) opens with some heavily treated, layered electric guitars very much like ROBIN GUTHRIE. The vocal enters like a beautiful LUSH song from their first album (Robin Guthrie produced), "Sweetness and Light." Beautiful guitar chord progressions. Some nice Mellotron, too! (9/10)
3. "Every Daybreak" (6:13) opens like a set up on a classic PETER GABRIEL soundtrack song, like from Passion: Soundtrack from The Last Temptation of Christ or Rabbit-Proof Fence or even "Signal to Noise." When Ingemo's gorgeous voice enters it is like none other than KATE BUSH. Awesome layered guitar work. Three songs into it and still not a drum, snap or click to be heard! (9/10)
4. "The Day" (4:26) is, for me, the weakest song on the album. Some abrasive slapped guitar and dirty percussives make an incongruous background to Ingemo's whispery voice. (6/10)
5. "Kindly Winds" (4:17) involves Ingemo's lilting voice floating ethereally over heavily treated piano and guitars and some drums. The song has trouble deciding whether it's going to kick in or hold back. (It holds back.) Some nice guitar lead in the final minute. (7/10)
6. "Politics and Dreams" (5:01) begins very much like an old PETER GABRIEL song with dated electric piano (midied with organ?) Ingemo's vocals are quite strikingly reminiscent of quintessential KATE BUSH. The Celtic-like flutes and hand drums make it even more so. Nice song. (8/10)
7. "Connections" (4:13) opens with a heavily treated guitar strumming with a second less-muddied guitar and bass playing along. Ingemo adds background ghost voices before coming in with an echoed lead vocal. I like the construction of this song--chord progressions and vocal melody. It's quite unusual and alluring. Ingemo's voice styling here is quite a bit like that of KATE BUSH on the "Man with the Child in his Eyes." Quite nice. (9/10)
8. "I Used to Forget" (3:52) opens with an old sounding electric piano before drums, bass and voice join in. Rolling toms like a gently rolling sea accompany Ingemo's layered singing--which sound like KATE BUSH singing with the Mediæval Bæbes. The keyboard interludes sound like a live, over-amped keyboard--"Bob Mayo! Bob Mayo!" (they yelled on Frampton Comes Alive!) Nice flute solo. Awesome song! One of my favorites. (10/10)
9. Hear My Voice" (6:18) opens with some dirty, grungy bass, drums and guitar. Ingemo's voice sounds like she's trying to provide the interpretive glue for the song like Kate Bush, Elisabeth from FUNIN, BJÖRK, or one of the BRAINTICKET chanteuses. Nice chunky bass à la Tony Levin or Bill Laswell. The guitar interplay in the fourth and fifth minutes is awesome and is followed by an equally intriguing weave of voices. Another favorite. (10/10)
10. "Gloomy Silvernight" (5:12) opens kind of Canterbury jazzy with some mediæval folk instruments woven into the mix. A wooden flute pulls the song even more into medieval folk realm, but then it feels equally Indian in its pulsing, snaky, hypnotic weave. The vocal doesn't begin until the 1:46 mark. Once again feels like KATE BUSH--a very breathy, Sensual World-era Kate--in both style and melodic sense. Another awesome favorite. (10/10)
11. "All Nights" (2:56) opens with almost a Rolling Stones guitar sound--a little more treated--and then a very Miki Berenyi (LUSH)-like lead vocal. (8/10)
12. "Water Flowing" (7:32) returns to the familiar PETER GABRIEL/BRIAN ENO/JON HASSELL foundational rhythms and sounds. Singing about the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ingemo's stylistic approach is again very similar to that of KATE BUSH--again, Sensual World era. A Very powerful vocal to go over another beautiful blend of hypnotic music. This is the best song on the album both in terms of content and feeling fully formed and polished. (10/10)
Overall a very pleasant listen--one that draws me in and entices me to push "replay" or "continuous play." I have favorites but it all flows and fits together nicely. And I love the album artwork!
A Solid four star album--excellent addition to any prog lover's album collection.
Nomads of Hope is the new project from progressive music veterans Ingemo Rylander and Johan Hedren, who hail from bands Kultivator and Ur Kaos in their past. Together since the 1970s, the pair have over the years "collected more or less fragmentary ideas of songs, which eventually gave birth to Nomads of Hope. This history explains the mixture of progressive rock, world music, folk music, ancient music and grunge."
This is a very interesting recording that sounds like few others I've heard. At first play I didn't like it but I'm glad I returned to try again later. The album is very intimate sounding with a somewhat eerie, haunting production. Difficult to describe but it is an unusual sound they mine here. The music covers different styles but the base is an avant folk mixture with a wide variety of unusual instruments being employed. Certain moments can remind me of Peter Gabriel at the beginning of "Don't Give Up" before the vocals begin. Vashti Bunyan. Laura Nyro. Happy Rhodes. Joni Mitchell. Pererin. Ragnarok. Samla Mammas Manna. Those are all very complimentary comparisons whose main theme would be complete freedom and an eclectic spirit. Traditional song structure is not employed here but rather a willingness to experiment and a seeming affinity for trance friendly sounds. Often the two musicians seem connected in vision and the mood of the track but are willing to drift in to their own improvisational spaces from time to time, it makes for fascinating repeated play as one hears new things each time. At times it can seem quite sparse and minimalist with two people using acoustic instruments but at other times it can be just opposite, with so many sounds happening all around, it borders on chaotic frenzy. A wide variance of energy levels. The mood of the music is another pleasure in that the material is for the most part relaxing, uplifting, and quite ethereal. While I think the music itself is every bit as interesting as everyone's favorite underground band Comus, it is hugely different in that this is a positive vibe rather than dark one.
This is rather poor review writing on my part because I can't figure out how to articulate this band properly--it drives me nuts when I can't find the right words to describe a sound. But if you enjoy a very unique prog-folk that is not dark, and has some world music flavor, this is really one to check out. Another highlight of 2014 for me. Thank you Nomads for releasing such a beautiful album.
Over the last few decades (I started noticing it in the mid-80s or thereabouts), a new musical configuration has developed, as exemplified by many trip-hop groups. This prototype consists of a man who plays a lot of instruments and a woman who sings, usually in a breathy ("ethereal") voice, sometimes in a more jazzy or powerful way. Often, but not always, it's the man who writes the material — there's less consistency in this area. Sometimes the woman plays some instruments as well; nearly always, the man is the producer/engineer, and keyboards are his main instruments. This pattern has been repeated so often I don't have to name names for readers to think of examples. But that's the prototype, and in art there are no absolute rules, so there's actually a fair amount of sonic variety even within this field. Sweden's Nomads of Hope represent one variation on the pattern. Johan Hedrén plays a variety of instruments; Ingemo Rylander sings and also plays several instruments (and did the cover art as well); there are a few guest appearances. Both are alumni of the respected prog band Kultivator, but Nomads takes them pretty far from the Canterbury sound of that band. Influences (and instruments) from around the world come into play, and there are similarities to the world/space/folk style inhabited by such groups as Sky Cries Mary and Azigza. But this is also somewhat of a "bedroom project," setting an intimate scale rather than going for big sonic impact. Percussion is present on several tracks, though it never dominates. Instead, we get gentle grooves set up on guitar or keyboards (often vintage sounds like Rhodes or Mellotron) by Hedrén, while Rylander provides ornamentation on her harps, recorders, and whistles. On top of this gentle base, Rylander sings lovely melodies, occasionally reminding me of Anneli Drecker (Bel Canto). Sometimes I wish they'd just let loose and go for a big percussion-heavy groove, but this band is more about subtle moods than jumping up and dancing. It's a beautiful recording, and I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.
Har du lp:n eller cd:n ”Barndomens stigar” med Kultivator? Då är du på rätt spår. Har du inte den, dags att leta på Discogs eller närslutna sajter. Det är en pärla i svensk progutgivning (särskilt återutgivningen på en dubbel-cd bjuder på bonusgodis) och när Johan Hedrén och Ingemo Rylander under namnet Nomads Of Hope släpper skivan “Breaking The Circles For A While” (egen utgivning) var det en angenäm överraskning. Överraskningar ska vara av det här slaget, helt oväntade och med ett innehåll som får mungiporna att dras uppåt, mer och mer. Bland inhoppen märks också Lars Lach'n Jonsson, bördig från Ur Kaos och Zut Un Feu Rouge, bl.a., men Zeuhl handlar det inte om här, mer en sorts vindlande världsmusik (nåja), påminnande om mycket, skapande nya synapser i en frisinnad hjärna, sväng och psykedelia, ibland ren Canterbury-pop med flöjt och mellotron, egentligen en intelligent popskiva från en helt annan tid, efterhängsen, med sådant som låter både Sinkadus och Necromonkey. Som sagt, en överraskning, och du, den växer för varje lyssning. Lyssna på The Day …