Pelander, Time: Colour and Irony

Posted in Reviews on October 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

pelander-time

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All the more curious, then, that¬†Time should arrive with such stripped-down, minimal arrangements — a sweet combination of guitars, strings and voices on “The Irony of Man,” or the UK-style folk flute on opener “Umbrella,” or¬†Pelander and his accompanying guest vocalist backed by acoustic guitar, bass and simple, intermittent percussion on the closing title-track — bearing his name as its banner, since it’s so far removed from the direction his songwriting has taken over the course of the last half-decade. Maybe that’s the point.

One way or another,¬†Time presents the most willfully organic production¬†in which¬†Pelander has taken part at least since¬†Firewood if not since¬†Witchcraft‘s self-titled. I’m reasonably sure that isn’t how he’d want it measured, but it’s true nonetheless. Beginning with the warm welcome of “Umbrella”‘s folksy balladry and classic lyrical patterning — “Never thought I,” and so on — the album holds to a clean but natural sound that, at least in some degree, still translates to a full-band fullness. That is, though parts are quiet, minimalist, rarely is¬†Pelander actually sounding alone on this solo album.

There’s flourish of violin and the aforementioned flute and backing vocals to go with the guitar, bass and percussion working under his lead on “Umbrella,” and a quick ’60s-style psychedelic electric guitar solo even shows up briefly before the acoustic guitar takes the fore once again in a final movement that seems to be referencing¬†Black Sabbath‘s “Sweet Leaf.” Bottom line is it’s not like all¬†Time is working from is¬†Magnus Pelander and an acoustic guitar, but it has an intimate vibe in part due to personal-feeling lyrics like “Family Song,” which directly names mother, father, brother, sister¬†and self as characters early on to a humble strum and some sweet fret work setting up a powerful vocal push as the track moves into its second half.

Some kind of keys — might just be piano — are introduced briefly but not out of place in their coming and going before the last verse section, and “Family Song” ends with a quieter feel, suitable for the transition into the soft open of “The Irony of Man.” The aforementioned backing vocals — I don’t know accompanies¬†Pelander throughout, but her harmonies add enough to the tracks on which she appears that I’d give credit if I could — and another showcase of melodic prowess, this time over a more melancholic instrumental arrangement, driven once more by acoustic guitar but building outward with strings as it moves through toward the two longest cuts on¬†Time, “True Colour” and “Precious Swan.”

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Between them, “True Colour” (8:57) and “Precious Swan” (9:53) comprise more than half of the total 36:50 runtime of¬†Time, and with¬†Pelander having proved his mettle in structure and creating a full-album flow across five¬†Witchcraft full-lengths, it’s hard to imagine their placement next to each other is an accident.

Back to back, they make for the most immersive section of the record — admittedly less if you get the version with the bonus track “Rebecka” — broadening the context with Spanish-style guitar and more active percussion before the halfway point of “True Colour” only to dip back into the quiet verse like nothing ever happened before stretching out with broader strumming, progressive string turns¬†in the back end¬†and a subtle, wistful finish with a ticking clock at close. The play in “Precious Swan” is “precious one.” The song starts with that line and individually plucked notes to set up a patient development that, once it starts unfolding with the drawn violin and more forceful vocals, does not seem to stop.

Tension rises with electric guitar leading to start-stop bass and far-back swirl of guitar that fades out to let piano and acoustics take hold at the halfway mark,¬†building in volume and arrangement to a noisy cacophony that, at 6:29, finally cuts to let a strummed electric guitar play the central line of the song. Then, only then, does the acoustic figure return,¬†Pelander once again crooning “precious one” or “precious swan,” whichever it might be. Strings come back¬†in the instrumental meandering that follows, and there’s a sample of a woman singing in what seems to be Swedish — unsure who or when, but regardless the sense of nostalgia is palpable.

That emotional resonance would seem to stand in direct contrast to the actual last lines of the album, in which¬†Pelander, with an audible sigh, declares, “I don’t want to live here/My enemy is time.” This comes after clever plays off words that rhyme with the title, delivered in succession, a flash of percussion, and a final guest vocal appearance that seems to tie everything together as it gives way to the final movement of subdued acoustic guitar that closes the song and the record as whole.

In its last moments,¬†Time brings listeners back to that sense of asking questions. We don’t, in the end, know whether time is an enemy or an ally, as “Precious Swan” might lead one to believe. We don’t know whether it’s a sense of looking back on his career that caused¬†Pelander to revive this solo-project, or if¬†the very sound of¬†Time¬†itself is an acknowledgement of the role that notions of the bygone have played out in his work aesthetically over the course of his career.

And we don’t know how, or if at all,¬†Magnus Pelander will continue to develop¬†Pelander as an entity separate from¬†Witchcraft, or if¬†Time is a one-off as collections¬†of its ilk sometimes can be; a collection of tracks accumulated over some measure of time — there’s that word again — that he felt it was finally time to get out of his system. All of these things, and more, have yet to be answered, but there’s value in the asking, and for as much as it revels in the uncertain,¬†Pelander‘s¬†Time¬†is guided by the surest of hands.

Pelander, “The Irony of Man”

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Pelander: Witchcraft Frontman Unveils Time Title and Tracklisting

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

More details have started to trickle out about Witchcraft frontman Magnus Pelander‘s debut solo album. The title, for example, will be Time, and it will feature six tracks plus a bonus cut and run about an LP-ready 44 minutes. No artwork or audio or even a solid release date yet, but Nuclear Blast seems to be doling out details one or two at a time — the last press release was “Hey, an album exists and we’re putting it out” and this one is “Hey, it has a name and songs” — so you know, there’s still plenty to learn in the months ahead. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect a release date sometime in October/November, but don’t go quoting that or anything. Pure speculation on my part.

And not to give away state secrets or anything, but if you’ve been missing Witchcraft‘s pioneering retro-doom aesthetic, there are definitely some parts of this record to which you’re going to want to pay particular attention. There. I can be vague with the best of ’em.

This is the part where there’s a photo and then the text changes color to signify its origins on the PR wire:

pelander

PELANDER – WITCHCRAFT main man’s solo project announces title & track list

WITCHCRAFT main man, Magnus Pelander’s solo project PELANDER has announced the title as well as the track list for his upcoming debut album.

Time will contain 7 tracks with an approximate running time of 44 minutes.

Time track list:
1. Umbrella
2. Family Song
3. The Irony Of Man
4. True Colour
5. Precious Swan
6. Time
7. Rebecka (BONUS TRACK)

After his latest journey with WITCHCRAFT, Nucleus, multi instrumentalist and lyricist extraordinaire, Magnus Pelander, returns to his solo career which without a doubt can be recognized as being tied to the cult doom/rock band, still exploring other paths and going full on acoustic.

Magnus Pelander comments: “At last my first solo album is done and soon to be released. I cannot believe this is true.”

Commented Nuclear Blast A&R representative Markus Jakob: “We’re thrilled to not only work with a gifted artist as Magnus on his main band but now also on his solo career. Both WITCHCRAFT and PELANDER have always stood for variety, artistic freedom and development which we’re more than happy to support. Prepare yourself for another deep and intense look into the mind and musical vision of a genius!”

www.nuclearblast.de/pelander
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa/

Magnus Pelander, “Stardust” Live in Gothenburg, Sweden, 2010

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Magnus Pelander of Witchcraft to Release Solo LP on Nuclear Blast

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Witchcraft spearhead¬†Magnus Pelander released a solo EP,¬†A Sinner’s Child, through¬†Svart Records in 2010. As I recall, it was only four songs, but it didn’t need any more than that to showcase a folkish side that hadn’t shown up in¬†Witchcraft at all since even their earliest going. Having dropped his first name to operate under the solo moniker of¬†Pelander, he’ll release a full-length before the end of the year through¬†Nuclear Blast, also now the label home of¬†Witchcraft, who released their fifth album,¬†Nucleus (review here), earlier in 2016.

Not that I’ve heard it or anything, but it’s got some pretty gorgeous moments in string arrangements atop a current of acoustic guitar, and I don’t know what¬†Pelander‘s voice has ever sounded better. Not that I’ve heard it or anything.

From the PR wire:

pelander

PELANDER – WITCHCRAFT main man’s solo project signs to Nuclear Blast

We are happy to announce that WITCHCRAFT main man, Magnus Pelander’s solo project PELANDER has officially signed to Nuclear Blast Records.

After his latest journey with WITCHCRAFT, Nucleus, multi instrumentalist and lyricist extraordinaire, Magnus Pelander, returns to his solo career which without a doubt can be recognized as being tied to the cult doom/rock band, still exploring other paths and going full on acoustic.

Magnus Pelander comments: “At last my first solo album is done and soon to be released. I cannot believe this is true.”

Commented Nuclear Blast A&R representative Markus Jakob: “We’re thrilled to not only work with a gifted artist as Magnus on his main band but now also on his solo career. Both WITCHCRAFT and PELANDER have always stood for variety, artistic freedom and development which we’re more than happy to support. Prepare yourself for another deep and intense look into the mind and musical vision of a genius!”

Today, PELANDER also announces the as of yet untitled successor to 2010’s A Sinner’s Child EP to be released later this year. More details about Magnus Pelander’s second solo album will be revealed soon.

www.nuclearblast.de/pelander
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa/

Magnus Pelander, “Hope”

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