“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” – Confucius.
Music is wonderful and fantastic music can sometimes be all you need, there’s a joy and simplicity to just listening to music and letting it work its wonders on you and I don’t know any music that is more joyful that the glorious songs created by Moon Safari. Their wonderful multi-part harmonies will put a smile on your face and their incredible musicianship just leaves you dumbfounded in amazement.
Moon Safari is a Swedish progressive rock group formed in Skellefteå, Sweden, in 2003. The band focuses on vocal arrangements in the style of Gene Puerling and they willingly surrender to the spirit of 60s rock, pop and progressive rock music, previously invoked by the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Yes. After a near decade-long recording process, the band are set to make a storming comeback this winter with their fifth studio album ‘Himlabacken Vol. 2.’
As the band put it; “We’ve all wanted to quit at some point during the last decade. It’s been a real test of our patience and our commitment to the music. But in the end, we were pardoned by the Gods of Rock ‘n’ Roll and we’re back in great form. To hear the whole thing in one go is absolutely liberating, and well worth the wait. If this thing won’t fly, nothing we’ll ever do will. So welcome back to Heaven Hill, dear friends! We hope you’ll enjoy the ride.
All our love / MS”
Petter Sandström (Lead and Backing vocals, Acoustic Guitar), Simon Åkesson (Lead and Backing vocals, piano, organ, moog), Pontus Åkesson (Lead and Backing Vocals, Electric and Acoustic Guitar), Sebastian Åkesson (Backing Vocals, assorted keys, percussion), Mikael Israelsson (Backing Vocals, Drums, percussion, keyboards, piano) and Johan Westerlund (Lead and Backing Vocals, Bass Guitar) return with what they know is a worthy comeback album, filled with their own special brand of symphonic rock cultivated over 20 years as an antidote to the long, dark winters of northern Sweden, with those trademark vocal group-inspired harmonies, uplifting melodies and soulful romantic lyrics that the fans have come to expect.
It’s been ten long years since Moon Safari released their last studio album, ‘Himlabacken Vol. 1’, and hearing the first notes of opening track 198X (Heaven Hill) brings it all flooding back, the purity of the music and the joy in the wondrous vocals, it’s all still there! There’s an uplifting feel to the glorious keyboards and an almost 80’s AOR vibe to the guitar riffs but, when the harmonised vocals begin, the music goes full-on, upbeat scandi-prog (although with glint of pop music fun it its eye). Oh what a joyous feeling this music gives you! After that short but oh so sweet re-introduction to the band we are given the brilliance of Between the Devil and Me, the first track released from the album. A wonderfully laid back piano and keyboard opening gives way to some chugging guitars that then soar high into the heavens in a gloriously overblown way before we are off and running. This ten minute plus piece is a winner from beginning to end with an urgent drive delivered by the guitars and rhythm section and some utterly sublime vocals, as we’ve come to expect from the band. This dynamic track ebbs and flows between the more pressing verses and then the spine tingling chorus sections where the harmonies just soar into the heavens, it just brings elation and exultation with every note and every word. The second track released from the album is the succinct and very dramatic Emma, Come On. Edgy and yet gloriously theatrical, it’s three minutes of uplifting music that never fails to please.
We then go from the dramatic, high-tempo music of the first three tracks to something altogether more emotive and breathtaking, the sublime brilliance of A Lifetime to Learn How to Love. There’s an ethereal wonder about this captivatingly beautiful piece of music. It’s more about the vocals with the instrumentation used more as a presentation before those incredible voices deliver something quite passionate and wholly profound. Let time stand still and just enjoy every single moment of this musical treasure. Beyond the Blue feels like it fits its two minute running time perfectly and, again, it’s the stunning vocals that take centre stage on this musical amuse bouche, just stunning! After those two hauntingly spellbinding tracks we are back with the up-tempo, grin inducing music with Blood Moon. Like something perfectly formed in the 80’s and transported to the here and now, the music is catchy and attention grabbing and the vocals just put a huge smile on my face. This is music that is uplifting, joyous and completely inspiring and just gets under your skin in the best way imaginable.
And just when you don’t think it can get any better, Moon Safari deliver a twenty minute Scandi-prog epic that has everything that you’d expect from this inventive and accomplished band. With an opening that could be straight off an album by The Flower Kings, all intricate, harmonious and full of a funky melodic edge, you are drawn into the band’s sophisticated musical web. What a wonderful musical journey Moon Safari take you on with there emotive vocals and tender music but that impish, wide eyed wonder that the band engender is never far away, harmonies galore and some of the best guitar playing you’re likely to hear on a symphonic prog album, this superb song has it all. Exquisitely wistful and delivered with sophistication, charm and grace, Forever, For You just picks at the heart strings with its elegant vocals and refined instrumentation, it’s just ten minutes of music that really moves you with its contemplative, nostalgic feel and the sax playing of Jamison Smeltz is just sublime. Epilog closes proceedings in the perfect manner, just a church organ and piano and those memorable harmonies before an elegant acoustic guitar plays out to finish things on a high note.
Music has the power to move you and impact on your life in a positive manner and, with ‘Himlabacken Vol. 2’, Moon Safari have delivered the most wonderfully uplifting collection of songs I have heard this year. A joyous, mood enhancing release that just makes this world we live in a better place to be, if only for a short time. Trust me, you need this album in your life!
Released 8th December, 2023.
Order digital at bandcamp here:
Order physical product from Burning Shed here: