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Swedish progressive rock quartet ANEKDOTEN has been around for almost two decades and released five albums, so it’s time to take stock with a two-disk compilation – especially useful for us Americans, since this is the first Anekdoten record to get a U.S. release. Disk one of Chapters covers the band’s three most recent albums From Within, Gravity and A Time of Day, all of which seem to be of a piece. Guitarist/keyboardist/singer NICKLAS BARKER, keyboardist/cellist ANNA SOFI DAHLBERG, bassist/singer JAN ERIK LILJESTRÖM and drummer/vibist PETER NORDIN conjure sweeping tracks like “The War is Over,” “A Sky About to Rain” and “The Great Unknown” that ride crashing tidal waves of Mellotron. Though deliberately reminiscent of the 70s prog sound, the band favors emotional truth over technical opulence, so it’s easy to be carried along by its deep feeling and melodic gifts.
Disk two reaches farther back, sampling Vemod, the group’s debut album, and offering demos from Nucleus, its second, as well as other demos. The group’s early songs were, in general, knottier, more guitar driven and more revealing of Anekdoten’s roots as a KING CRIMSON tribute act. Tunes like “Wheel” and “Nucleus” may be derivative of mid-70s Crimson, but being swayed by one’s influences is hardly a crime in a young band, especially one with as much talent as this one has. Play these disks in reverse order and you can feel Anekdoten’s evolution from a band reveling in a certain breed of nostalgia to one that uses the tools of the past to stay relevant in the present – including “When I Turn,” a new song. Anekdoten is a remarkable band, one of the best in the current progressive rock scene, and Chapters is an excellent introduction to its charms.
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