Instrumental-rock can be a difficult terrain for some music lovers. Yet, when you discover a group like Gösta Berlings Saga, who put together genre-smashing, stylistically intricate tracks, capable of offering a feast of instrumentation for the ears, you might find it hard not to love.
The Swedish quartet recently released their new album ‘ET EX’, a record that strives to push the boundaries of what their brand of tricky instrumental rock can offer, with adventurous experimentation of complex melodies, synths, and structures, across a tantalisingly tasty 47-minute listen.
The four-piece hail from the Swedish city of Stockholm, a place that’s well versed in bringing through one or two metal bands. Be it the doom-metal of Opeth or Candlemass, glam-metal of Crashdiet, or the relentless thrash-metal of Bathory – the city has a track record of producing solid heavy acts. Elsewhere, many will likely regard the Swedish capital as the origin of pop-wonders ABBA, as well as also being known as the ‘World’s Smallest Big City’.
We spoke to all four of Gösta Berlings Saga to get the lowdown on all things Stockholm.
We’re from Stockholm, Sweden. It’s pretty far up North and a fairly small city, as far as capitals go, but it still manages to house a pretty wide variety of scenery and culture with more being added as we learn more about the world around us. A lot of the suburban areas are completely surrounded by forest and littered with islets and beautiful places to sit down for an evening. Great for outdoors shenanigans and getting inspiration.
Its People and Culture:
We’ve heard the people here are a bit shy and reclusive compared to people from other cities and cultures. Whenever you’ve been out of town for a while and come back, you realise that people seem to be really anxious as well about almost doing what’s considered hip at the moment and compulsively avoiding what’s not.
Speaking of Swedes in general, we believe one invented the computer mouse. Also dynamite, Bathory, Spotify, Battlefield, the wrench, the pacemaker, ball bearings and ABBA. Combined, that would make a pretty awesome junkyard-esque sci-fi movie character robot.
The Music It Inspires:
According to recent reports, as many as 16% of all bands from Stockholm have at least one member being dependent on a pacemaker, but there are of course many bands that operate under the radar, so it’s hard to tell what the actual numbers are. Because of this, many bands have been forced to insert mid-time breaks in their live shows in order to cope, and thanks to this, the jazz scene is thriving.
The Local Music Scene:
There’s a bunch of genres actually, ranging from EDM such as Swedish House Mafia and Avicii, all the way to traditional Swedish death-metal such as Entombed and Dismember.
Its Most Famous Musical Sons and Daughters:
Europe is an old favourite, of course, bob hund, with their mesmerizing and unexpected melodies have been inspiring in many ways, and that bands’ live performances completely blows you away. Opeth is from Stockholm as well, and then there’s always Yngwie fucking Malmsteen.
Its Unsung Heroes:
It’s really on preference and hard to give a collective answer, but to name a few, there’s Spaltmeter, Musette, Agent Side Grinder, Dungen, The Knife, Viagra Boys, Tonbruket, Kungens Män, and Switchblade. Not all unsung heroes, but very good bands indeed.
The Bands To Watch Out For:
We had the honour of featuring Henrik Palm on our latest album. He’s been around and a part of great sounds for some time, but he just recently released his first album under his own name. It’s definitely worth a listen for anyone who is into music with a bit of heft and feel.
The Venues We Played:
Back in 2005, when we started doing live shows, we regularly played at Debaser Slussen, which used to be one of four Debaser venues to date in Stockholm. Although it reeked of sewer and last week’s sushi (although they didn’t even serve sushi), we had a lot of fun playing there together with local and international bands and artists. It was more or less always packed when playing on weekends, so we really got an opportunity to get some attention early on, as well as a feeling that there were organisers who believed in what we did. That meant a lot.
If I Wrote A Song About My Hometown:
We’ve actually named a few songs after places in Stockholm that have been special to us. The most prominent is probably ‘Sorterargatan 3’, where we, up until this September, had our rehearsal space for almost twenty years and spent countless hours rehearsing and recording music for all of our releases so far.‘Sorterargatan 3’ is a rhythmic, mechanical and monotonous tune with a beautiful ending that sort of embodies the harsh surroundings of that suburban and run-down rehearsal space, but with a glimpse of hope of something better.
‘Et Ex’ by Gösta Berlings Saga is out now on InsideOut Music/Sony Music.