Personnel: Rikard Sjöblom (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion); David Zackrisson (vocals, guitar, percussion); Magnus Ostgren (vocals, drums, percussion); Robert Hansen (vocals).
Audio Mixer: Rikard Sjöblom.
Recording information: Beardfish Studios (01/2012); Overlook Studios, Gävle (01/2012); Beardfish Studios (01/2012-02/2012); Overlook Studios, Gävle (01/2012-02/2012).
Photographers: David Zackrisson; Rikard Sjöblom; Thomas Van Der Kaaij.
The career of Swedish progressive rockers Beardfish has been steadily gaining in momentum throughout the 2000s, and, notwithstanding small inconveniences like record label bankruptcies, widespread recognition could finally be at hand via 2012's consistently daring and ever unpredictable The Void. An unreserved mind-f**k in the best possible sense, the band's seventh album sculpts its genre- and time-bending material with no care for conventional compositional rules nor even chronological synchronicity (as usual), which makes it that much more remarkable that songs should prove so immediately appealing throughout, arguably like never before. On "Turn to Gravel," it's a melancholy descending arpeggio reminiscent of King's X grounding all of the other heady twists and turns; on "They Whisper," it's Steely Dan's springy pop-jazz sensibility trimming those wilder proggy nose hairs; on "Seventeen Again," "He Already Lives in You," and the epic title cut (note dazzling piano section), it's forceful, straightforward power chords reining in prog's best classical-meets-jazz excesses (Kansas, Marillion, etc.); and on "This Matter of Mine," it's simply the schizophrenic genius of Faith No More and the Mike Patton-like vocal elasticity of Beardfish leader Rikard Sjöblom. In tandem with his masterful organ improvisations and imaginative guitar creations, you'll often hear him crooning warmly or snarling soulfully on any of the above, before leaping unexpectedly into emphatic higher registers, croaked death growls, and even sardonic Frank Zappa baritones (see "Voluntary Slavery" for both of the latter) to give Beardfish's sound even more dimensions of expression. In fact, perhaps no artist informs Beardfish's anything-goes (so long as it's well thought-out) musical ethos as much as Mr. Zappa, as his acolytes will surely surmise upon first exposure to these songs. However, this observation is not meant to discredit Sjöblom and his band's achievement for harnessing that considerably complex and broad influence into their own creations, but rather underscore the possible and very deserving commercial breakthrough made possible by The Void. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia