Tonbruket ‘Masters of Fog’ LP/CD (ACT Music) 4/5

Celebrating ten years of making music, and with four Swedish Grammy awards and five studio albums under their belts, the Swedish genre-hopping quartet Tonbruket return with their sixth studio album “Masters of Fog”. Led by founding EST member, bassist Dan Berglund, this impressive release is an exploration of sound that traverses jazz, prog-rock, Americana, psychedelia, ambient trance and avant-garde pop music.

Tonbruket was originally assembled as Berglund’s own crossover band, with the help of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Johan Lindström. Together with drummer Andreas Werlin and keyboardist Martin Hederos, over the years the quartet have forged their own unique sound, whilst continuing to surprise listeners with their open, ever-evolving music. Whereas previous releases have seen the band focussing on a single narrative thread, this new release, with eleven original tracks, presents a powerfully inventive foray into a multi-layered musical world, opening more doors and adventures than ever before.

With so many styles and genres now being encompassed within the band’s music, it’s almost a surprise that it all fits together so well. And yet it does. This is intelligent, stylish music, with the individual skills and experience of each band member being brought together to create a collective whole that simmers and burns with a subtle intensity. The intoxicating title track, and album opener, blends dark, shadowy sounds with luscious melodies, creating a feel and vibe reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s masterpiece Dark Side of The Moon. Berglund’s cool bass creates a deep groove on “AmFm”, with bluesy guitar and keys mixing perfectly with electronic effects and a focussed drum beat. As with much of the album, there’s an edginess to the music that lurks behind the obvious subtleties. “The Enders” is one of the finest pieces of music I’ve heard this year. Wonderful piano chords and floating strings create a rich, melancholic tapestry of sound. This is one of those tracks that sends shivers down my spine every time I listen to it. It’s incredibly well produced and beautifully dark and captivating. Whilst “Entering the Amazonas” actually sounds like a creepy-crawly rainforest hooked on techno music, “Tonability” is a heavy-duty slice of Rockabilly on fire, a-la legendary guitarist Brian Setzer. It’s brazen and so fuc*ing cool you’ve just got to admire it. The rather strange “Waiting for Damocles Sword”, with its shimmering musical shape-shifting, leads the listener into the pulsating Black Keys-esque “Wheel No.5”. There’s a more laid-back, lazy vibe to “The Barn” with its acoustic guitars and bass creating a sound akin to a low-fi Nirvana track. The avant-garde Bowie/Eno/Fripp influences are clear on “Chain Rule Formula”, whereas the gorgeous “A Tale of Fall” is particularly reminiscent of Pat Metheny’s classic “Last Train Home”. The closing track, “The Pavlova Murders” mixes things up even further, with its pinball melodies crossing paths with deliciously infused doses of esoteric instrumentation.

Mixing an evocative palette of sound and sonic ambience with wonderful writing, Tonbruket have created a sensory experience that flows compellingly with style and imagination. Their best album to date, one might argue.

Mike Gates

Read also:
Tonbruket ‘Live Salvation’ (ACT Music) 3/5