Harmony pervades Once There Was A Time When Time And Space Were One. Not in the strictly musical sense, but in its idyllic unity between typically opposed characteristics. Time and space, old and new, science and nature. Sweden’s My Brother The Wind returns on this, their third record, to peacefully entrance and impart their wholly-improvised instrumental Space Rock on the rushed and pressured masses. Similar to former releases, but at times even more tranquil, it draws on Swedish prog-forerunners, Träd Gräs och Stenar, and other visionary progressive, psychedelic and space music bands such as Pink Floyd, Popol Vuh and Amon Düül. Fluctuating and progressing, Once There Was A Time… will transport you to another world where the sun, wind and rain all inter-weave overhead, and it is truly memorable for the way it will draw you out of your everyday life.
The greatest success of the record is the way in which it reconciles 60s and 70s rock and psychedelia with modernity in its production and retrospective outlook. The benefit of producing a 70s psychedelic rock record forty years later is the ability to incorporate a number of sounds and influences into one cohesive whole, and realize the project with superior recording and production techniques. When the improvised electric guitar noodling kicks in on “Into The Cosmic Halo” you think Pink Floyd. “Thomas Mera Gartz” is a slow, ambient ode to the Träd Gräs och Stenar drummer of the same name. “Prologue” and the title track recall the space music synthesizers and mellotron of Popol Vuh. The complex layering and progression of “Garden Of Delights” elicits Amon Düül. Despite drawing on many influences, assimilation is subtle, leaving a record like a intricate tapestry which has to be completely consumed, rather than a collection of vaguely-related songs.
More, the outstanding production contributes to the fusion of the old and new: though clearly influenced by former bands, newer technology ensures their textures are very organic and the mixing brilliantly balances these many textures and instruments used. Love Tholin deserves credit here, ensuring one can hear all aspects of the music and the nuances in tone. The layering on the title track of acoustic and electric guitars with other electronic instruments is noteworthy, each carrying equal weight and creating a beautiful soundscape. The bass is not just audible, but strong (particularly on the groovy “Epilogue”) and carries prominent melody on the title track.
The complaints I have are relatively minor. Acting as a sort of centrepiece in its length and delivery of My Brother The Wind‘s ‘core’ style (by which I refer to their progressiveness and layering of multiple instruments), “Garden Of Delights” does drag over its opening six minutes. It repeats and meanders a little aimlessly, unlike the the rest of the record which feels focused and intentional despite its very nature of being an improvised studio jam. That said, it does pick up again – it could just do with a few minutes cut out towards the start. Additionally, “Epilogue,” while boasting a super groovy rhythm and bass-line, feels tacked on to the record which preceded it, and is especially anomalous since it is supposed to to be the conclusion of a great journey.
Nevertheless, Once There Was A Time… is a fantastic and mesmerizing record, successfully bringing a range of 60s and 70s influences to the modern day. Considering its improvised character, it is thankfully unpretentious and largely feels as if it’s positively progressing rather than pointlessly wandering. A fan of any genre can appreciate being transported away from this meaningless mortal coil, and I strongly recommend you let My Brother The Wind take you.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Free Electric Sound
Release dates: EU: 2014.10.06 | NA: 10.14.2014