Album Review: In A Brown Study by Soft Power

It may sound a bit pretentious but I feel that I’m on a musical journey. As time passes I can see that my tastes are constantly changing and, I hope, broadening. I only really self-conscuiously got into ‘psych’ music (and if you want to know what I mean by that checkout my recent Cosmic Dead review here) around 2010, although a number of bands I liked previous to this could be classed as such. Since then I have opened my horizons to whole new genre, and writing about them helps me to appreciate them further. So it wasn’t until relatively recently that I got into, let alone heard, bands from the Swedish Progg scene of the 70s. I have to say that as first I wondered what all the fuss was about. However, bands like Träd Gräs Och Stenar, Pårson Sound, Fläsket Brinner and International Harvester have gradually won me over with their complex yet earthy sounds.

So it tells me a lot about my ‘progress’ that I should instantly like this Soft Power album, given how much the Finnish quartet are influenced by such bands. However, there’s more to the band than this too. So while they do combine elements of Scandinavian folk, jazz, and Krautrock this is put together in a softer and more subtle way. This is more Progg than Prog.

One of the key lessons that I think I’ve learned as part of this musical journey is that you should not discount something because of its label. I’ll admit that I’ve not been too enamoured with jazz in the past, but am getting over that and there have been a few heavily ‘jazzed’ albums that have have come to love in recent years (as well as some of the jazz classics), and this album could certainly be categorised as such.

So what’s going on here? An album that is heavily influenced by the sort of music that I have taken a long time to love, and yet I knew from the first listen that this was something that I would come back to again and again. The opening track ‘Aavaa #1/ MF’ makes it easier, with it’s smooth edges and lush instrumentation. Then just as you might be worried that this is going to be something of a particular style second track ‘Mitä On Kätketty Meiltä’ is a far more experimental number with Stockhausen-style vocals that takes you somewhere else completely.

‘Ääntä Wallista’ and ‘Kulma Klubi’ are both freak out jazz tracks but are then followed by ‘Sisämetsä’ which is probably what regular readers here would regard as being more psychedelic in approach It’s here that you really begin to see the Progg influences coming through. There’s a great theme built up throughout the number, with a great interplay between organ and guitar. Give this one a listen below!

This complex style of music is kept up with ‘All In All’, which can also be filed firmly under the psychedelic as the band drive the music into an intense centrepiece track that really sells this album on its own. Were that not enough they follow it up with ‘Afterglow’ which is a brilliant track in which Soft Power bring all their influences together in a wonderful blend that just hits you where you emotionally feel it most…this is going to be one of my tracks of the summer I can tell.

Then we are back almost to where we started with ‘Aavaa #2’, probably more dense and less purely jazzy that it’s namesake opener, perhaps reflecting what we have listened to throughout the album. This is a great come down track for a ride that has been bright but never light, serious but never austere.

This is a great album to just sit and receive, not too stuck on one style of music and just eclectic enough to make you want to put it on repeat. For me it is one of those ‘outliers’ that you get now and again that are utterly indefinable, but are just put together in a way that make a weird sort of sense and just work for all the right reasons.

Soft Power’s first full length album is released on Huuru Osasto Records. Check the Soft Power bandcamp for further details.



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