Tuesday, October 3, 2017

NEBULOSA – Nebulosa (Park Studio, 1977)

International relevance: ***
Swedish vocals

This album will surely come as a surprise to those only familiar with Roger Pontare, née Johansson, as a multiple ESC contestant, in 2000 even securing the seventh place in the main Eurovision Song Contest with ”Sångerna viskar mitt namn”. He's well known in Sweden, not only for his powerful voice but also for his flamboyant dressing style, heavily inspired by his Sami ancestry. His intents may be sincere, but his over the top vocal and visual appearance often make it hard for a lot of people to take him seriously – most of the time, he wastes his talent on histrionics, but the fact remains that he's a remarkable singer, as he proved already being the singer of symphonic rock act Nebulosa.

The group's only outing was their eponymous 1977 album, self-released in an edition of 1,000 copies (reissues with sleeve variations exist). Despite Johansson/Pontare's vocal potential, ”Nebulosa” relies a fair bit on the band's instrumental abilities. However, the limited production values aren't always on par with the their ambitions, for instance, the synthetic strings do oftentimes sound like a cheap solution to the denser arrangements I'm sure the band envisioned or at least would have preferred. While some of Nebulosa's intricate ideas at times make them sound a bit lost – like a kid dressing up in his/her parents' clothes – the album's actually pretty well executed. In fact, the limitations work in their favour, preventing them from becoming just another overblown symphonic band with a Genesis complex, determined to spend every single penny of a much too large budget. It's not an essential album by any stretch, but in the end, I'd much rather listen to ”Nebulosa” than say, Kaipa's second and third albums, or Trettioåriga Kriget's stiff intellectual workouts.

After Nebulosa's break-up in 1979, keyboard player Thomas Kacso moved back to his native Hungary; guitarist Thomas Fransén ended up working for electronics company JVC; drummer Bengt Skarin became a music teacher, and bassist Lennart Usterud turned to religion and joined the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or, if you will, the Mormons).

11. Ödestrand
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