I first cam across Kungens Män late last year when I was discussing favourite releases of 2016 with friends on Facebook. Up to that point I had neither heard of the band not the label, Adansonia Records, who released their totally ace album ‘Stockholm Maraton’. In fact so quickly did that album take hold in my consciousness that it made my ‘Essential‘ list for last year. Since then I’ve also been listening to previous album ‘Förnekaren’ a great deal, both become near the top of the list when I want to listen to something that I can chill to without having to turn off the brain…easy-going without being easy-listening.
So when I heard that the band were putting out a new CDr on New Year’s Day, ‘Bränna Tid’, I was both excited and intrigued, and immediately contacted the band to see if I could cover it. Mikael Tuominen (vocals and guitar) got back to me straight away and was also kind enough to send me something on each track too.
Although there are only three tracks on the album, they are all between twelve and fifteen minutes in length and sound to me like that are mostly improvised, as Kungens Män’s music tends to be. But they do not sound like outtakes, being of the same high standard as most of their output. According to Mikael, the first song ‘K-rauta’ was “recorded while our drummer Indy was in Japan, which is why we’re playing with a drum machine. We’re also three guitar players on this track since it includes Tomas Bergstrand who occasionally plays with us.” This explains what there is a slightly different feel to the track, with Pettersson’s characteristically deep drumming absent. Nevertheless, this is a great track that finds a great tempo and slowly builds up a head of steam that allows the three guitars to soar on it. Like all of Kungens Män’s music it seems to just hit you at the right angle to appreciate the heady mix of progg, jazz and rock.
The second song ‘Ring så spelar vi’ is one that was apparently left over from the Stockholm Maraton LP. Mikael again: “We always have a bunch of songs to choose from when we compile our releases and this one didn’t fit the sequencing of the LP. It’s a nice, quite mellow song though with a bit of a connection to the Swedish tradition of Träd, Gräs och Stenar and bands like that (at least that is what I hear in it).” Oh yes indeed it is. This is such a beautiful piece that has a fantastic space too it. It’s a really minimal piece that just works so well, zone out to it and you may never come back!
Finally the circumstances surrounding the recording of third number, ‘Third War Three’, have me reaching for the ‘OMG that’s so Swedish cliches (I restrained myself). According to Mikael it ‘was recorded in my croft in the woods in the summer of 2015. We packed the car with some equipment and rigged it all in front of the fireplace and spent a weekend jamming away. This particular song was a late night discharge…’ And what an outpouring it is. Another wonderful slow-building/ burning number, this just grabs me in a way that I find hard to describe. It relaxes me, that late night feel really comes through, yet also stimulates me
Realistically this is probably a release ‘between albums’, but I am really pleased that Kungens Män decided to bring these tracks out; because I would have hated to think about them sitting on some hard disc somewhere never seeing the light of day. If you are new to Kungens Män this CDr with give you a good sense of what the band are about and, if you’re like me, will make you want to find out more.
Sales of the CDr (limited to 60 copies) have apparently, and unsurprisingly, been brisk. I’ve just noticed that a further twelve with be available on the Ultima Thule website, and the band may have some copies to sell directly. If not there’s certainly plenty of other stuff to have a go at on the Kungens Män bandcamp.