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Tardigrade

4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 1, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Stockholm in the early 90's was throbbing with prog. Numerous bands played small clubs and pubs in Sweden's capital. Most attention was paid to Anekdoten, Änglagaard and Landberk.

On the fringes of this underground movement there was a less known band called Egg. An unorthodox band: while sounding as harsh and brutal as both VdGG and Crimson, they still struggled to make their melodies as catchy as those of pop tune.

Bass player of Egg at the time was Stefan Renström, who upon joining them immediately had sensed the band's potential. But when Stefan wanted to lead the band in a certain direction, a lot of friction surfaced. Furthermore, his personal life collapsed and Stefan, unhappily, left both the band and Stockholm to form a new outfit.

Around Christmas '93 he made contact with a then very young Daniel Fäldt, singer of experimental band Leifs Hyvel. Things were settled: Simon Says was to be a project with the two of them as the nucleus.

In March '94 Stefan and producer Kenneth Magnusson started planning Simon Says' first album. In August 1995 Ceinwen was released, to mostly positive reviews. A live act was put together and Simon Says looked like they were growing into a band. After a few gigs, however, the project was put on ice Stefan wasn't happy with the way Simon Says sounded and when both he and Daniel moved they suddenly were too far away from each other to be able to continue anyhow. Daniel started studying philosophy, then drifted off to India and the Middle East for two long periods. Meanwhile, Stefan focused on his role as bass player in his other band, Wagnerian space rockers The Moor, with whom he cut Flux in 1996.

So, while Daniel was studying sitar in India, Stefan and The Moor toured Europe with legendary singer/flute and sax player Nik Turner of Hawkwind. Then, in 2001, Stefan felt he had somehow written a new Simon Says album. Guitarist Jonas Hallberg, Stefan's stand-in on bass in The Moor, was recruited, as well as Mattias Jarlhed (from Valinor's Tree) who recorded the drum parts only four days after having been invited to join.

After four weeks Paradise Square was finished and a deal with Galileo records was struck. The album was released in July 2002 and was met by everything between very good and rave reviews. But after eight months of sporadic rehearsals the band was shelved. Again.

Stefan refused to give Simon Says up, though. In spite of a series of domestic problems culminating in a tragic divorce he dedicated every spare second to write and record new music. And so, the band has in the last years contributed to a series of Musea samplers while all the time working on the main project: the one about survival. Tardigrade.

Review

Tardigrade is the third album by Simon Says. This progressive rock has a very dated or traditional sound which could be compared to other bands like The Flower Kings, Neal Morse (and his projects), Glass Hammer, and even going as far as to say bands like Camel, Yes, The Who, etc... The musical movements are astounding, especially moments like the intense space overtones in "Suddenly the Rain." Also traditionally, there are a couple of extremely long songs, and a bunch of shorter ones thrown in for good measure.

The keyboards are supremely thick in this recording, as seems common with most neo-prog. It seems like most of what you hear is built upon these keyboard elements, as they take up most of the musical space. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the synthesizer sounds and the organs are particularly good. They fit the music in a way that you would expect from prog rock. The clarity of the mix is spot on, and even the bass with its jaunty, fingered dance has a great tone and provides plenty of foundation for an intriguing jam, or as mentioned earlier, a giant stack of keyboard elements.

In a world dominated by "rhythm guitars," it is fantastic to listen to some music that is more free. At times you will hear funk-inspired percussion with a poppy bassline, dual guitar harmonies, and deep space key synth. The direction of each song is always evolving into something new or moving in other directions as soon as you settle into an idea, so there's no lack of exploration with Tardigrade and the adventure flows smoothly.

About the only complaint you could make is that vocalist Daniel Fäldt's voice seems too plain for this style of music. Still, the vocal performance is near perfect, only seeming to falter a bit here and there. When Fäldt really pushes for a strong, rough vocal note, you can sense the pain in it which creates an awesome dynamic in the song. It actually seems a bit brutal.

You can never have enough progressive rock, and this 74-minute opus is a great addition to the record collection. Simon Says actually succeeds where many bands who try this style fail. When The Flower Kings did this style with The Sum of No Evil, they lost the steam they had with their previous record and ended up making something that sounded more like a typical Flower Kings release (still, gotta love 'em!)... Simon Says, on the other hand, really hit the nail on the head with Tardigrade. It's a great record that delivers every aspect that a prog-head could desire. (8.5/10) --Maelstrom

A real throwback to 70 s progressive rock, I have to hand it to Simon Says for keeping the music to its true classic edge. Like Gentle Giant, classic Genesis, and early Yes, the band has a roosty sound that doesn t go into wild tangents or ethereal atmospheric soundscapes the sonic vibe is filled with tight harmonies, omni-textured synths/analogs, groove laden jam sessions, and a good sized knack for melody which is often lost in order to create some haunting atmosphere for one reason or another - folks there is action on this recording, not sleepy neo-prog American tea party festival' or 'I can't drink my beer until the band is done playing' music.

Beginning with Suddenly the Rain, a brooding vibe is immediately offered up, but tracks such as The Chosen One, the jam session of the aptly titled Strawberry Jam, and the title cut represent the jumpy & playful side to the band s musical madness. In all cases, every progressive rock band does have the part of their personality where they do want to branch out, I mean this is a form of art-rock, so it s gonna happen, but nevertheless, the band flexes their musical skills using another jam oriented approach on Moon Mountain, but this time it s more laid back & semi acoustic; spacey elements are executed on As the River Runs, and a cut called Circle s End has this horror move feel to it, which in reality and musically, is how you really haunt peoples mindset with the tuneage in all cases Tardigrade is an album for all who pursue the traditional sound that jumps out at you with melodic gusto and technical fervor.

There isn t anything necessarily revolutionary or innovative on this album, but there is no need for it either, nor is this band a Pendrag-'cupine-Dream- tallica-Spock s- illion clone you know the Flock of Seagulls cover bands that don t actually play Flock of Seagulls' songs - Simon Says sets out to play classic progressive rock the way it was meant to be played, and that s what we can respect & enjoy them for. --Ytsejam

Swedish group Simon Says has, with their 3rd album Tardigrade, come up with an excellent symphonic neoprogressive piece. This is the first joint venture of Galileo records of Switzerland and Progrock records of USA.

Both of their earlier efforts; Ceinwen(1995) and Paradise Suare should be checked out, however 6 years after their previous album the band's latest album, Tardigrade is the absoloute peak so far.
Tardigrade is a very strong conceptual, symphonic neoprog opus that runs over 10 tracks. The album concludes the story of Simon, now reborn as the anti hero and against-his-will-become-revolutionary Tardigrade in a tough society. This is classic,vintage prog at it's very best; tons of mellotrons,synths and hammond organ by Stefan Renström (Egg, The Moor) and Magnus Poulsson, excellent vocals by Daniel Feldt, drums by Matthias Jarlhed (Valinor's Tree) and guitars and percussion by Jonas Hallberg.

The first track, "Suddenly The Rain" (14:47), and the nineth track, "Brother Where You Bound" (26:33), are the longest tracks of the album. Both are heavily filled with cascades of great organ and mellotron which gives an extra nice "vintage Genesis" feeling that most progheads love.
Track 4, "Moon Mountain (2:33), is a nice,mellow piece where the guitars by Jonas Hallberg recalls the accoustic Steve Hackett.
Track 5, "As The River Runs" (10:40), starts nicely out recalling Bo Hansson's organ playing. The quiet side of King Crimson comes to mind here in Feldt's vocals. Again excellent mellotrons by Magnus Poulsson.
Track 8;"Circles End (6:19) is another beautiful mellotron driven piece.

Reference bands are vintage Genesis, Camel, Kaipa, Camel, Machiavel, Yes, The Tangent & The Flower Kings. There are simply no weak tracks on the album and it is highly recommended if you are into above mentioned bands --Proggnosis
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 1, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: PROGROCK
  • ASIN: B0013D8JRY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,236 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Beautiful!!!Tardigrade is one of those cd that I listen again after it has finished.There are echoes of past into a present sound and although sometimes remembers me groups like Genesis , Yes or others prog reference,Tardigrade plays in a special way for every track of album,and this,isn't easy to find today in the new prog music.With Tardigrade Simon Says have done a great musical work with an excellent recording ,and for me,one of the best prog cd of last years!
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This is a must for the symphonic and neo prog music lovers of the 70's! For those who like Yes, period Relayer and Genesis.
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Keyboards dominate this C.D. which for me is a good thing! There are passages which remind me of Howe and Squire and yet others, Keith Emerson. The songs grow on you much like Genesis, Yes and ELP did during their early years. The lead singer has a strange voice which may be more suitable for a country western band but after multiple listens, the great musicianship and those keyboards make for a great listen. This is a talented group which I hope will continue to grow.
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This 2008 release by Swedish group Simon Says is fantastic and may very well be my most prized discovery in recent times. Although it borrows heavily from the 1970s prog acts, this is a fresh-sounding piece of music that updates the classic prog style with current trends in rock. I also appreciate their analog approach, which places them alongside groups like Anglagard and Wobbler.

The ten tracks range in length from 0:26 to the mammoth "Brother Where You Bound" suite (26:33). The influences are pretty obvious and I can hear late 1970s Genesis, along with bits from the first solo album by Mike Rutherford (Smallcreep's Day, 1980) and the 1977 debut by obscure English progressive rock group England. Thankfully, there are no stadium rock influences and everything sounds organic and natural. There is also a subtle darkness to the tracks that I find appealing.

The band members are first-chair players and excellent group writers - the pieces are interesting and engaged me instantly. Although a guitarist is present, the overall sound is dominated by layers of piano, Hammond organ, mellotron, electric piano, and synthesizers such as the mini-moog and some of the polyphonic synths that appeared in the late 1970s. Good use is made of dynamics - though a high energy recording, the louder passages are leavened by soft acoustic textures on the guitar and the piano, along with (mostly) clean tones on the electric guitar. The use of Taurus bass pedals (or a similar sounding piece of equipment) really adds to the Genesis-like quality of the music. The vocalist is excellent and sounds like a baritone/low tenor. His tone is rich and warm and although he sometimes uses a falsetto to reach the upper registers, it is not distracting. The use of the vocoder is pretty cool.
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If you got this far in your research of Simon Says' 'Tardigrade', don't waste another minute...just get it! Seriously.

This band has flown under the radar and managed to avoid the larger exposure of newer prog artists and I cannot figure out why. There are other more detailed reviews here for you to review, I won't give a track-by-track analysis. Let me just say that I find this album wickedly intriguing. I bought it nine months ago and cannot quit listening to it.

If you dig ELP, old Genesis, TFK, any other Swede prog (even PoS), buy it now and you'll want to write your own gushing review after a few listens.

I say 5 stars. No question!
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For some reason I've held off writing a review on this CD for quite a while. Almost 2 years now that I think about it. Not sure why, because it's one of my favorite disks, and is probably in my top 4 or 5 for play rotation over those last 2 years.

I first heard Simon Says when I was on the road traveling through some former-soviet-satellite-state, and while sitting at the airport, nervously surfing their open wi-fi, I downloaded "Suddenly the Rain" and "Let the Race Begin" (from the band "Moth Vellum") and loaded them on my no-name MP3 player. The reviews seemed positive enough (can't remember if I was able to hear song samples or not), and 99 cents for a 14 minute track was the "right price" in my book.

And at some point within the next couple days while I was out jogging, I had a good chance to listen to both songs and I immediately was feeling VERY pleased with my shot-in-the-dark downloads. First thing I noticed from Simon Says was the vocalist. Wow. Nice, full-bodied voice with an interesting timbre. Anybody who has read a few of my other prog-related reviews knows I'm not too crazy about a lot of the vocalists out there singing in the more modern prog bands. They're not horrible, they just frequently have no personality or they sound like they learned their chops singing with a hair-metal cover band. The Simon Says lead singer, Daniel Fäldt, seriously has a classic prog/rock voice. Back in the 70s you couldn't really get by without a singer who had a really good voice (well, mostly)...Greg Lake, the Phil's (Gabriel and Collins), John Wetton, Ian Gillian (Deep Purple), David Byron (Uriah Heep), and one of the proto-typical rock voices, Roger Daltry.
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