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.
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