When I first listened to this, I was sitting on an all stations rail replacement bus service from Stansted to Cambridge. A jolly good accompaniment it was too, not least because its whole being is clearly geared towards taking us unto another, more uplifting world. It would seem to be the season of the flute, as not for the first time recently I experienced this willowy instrument whistling its haunting way through the five pieces. There are moments but especially on “Den Förtrollande Skogen” (The Enchanting Forest) when it’s as if Manfred Mann has turned up for a progressive jam session to treat us to a keyboard extravaganza. As we whistle through leafy glades, there’s a folksy air but so too there is a psychedelic and a progressively experimental feel – on “Sagor från Saaris” (Tales of Saaris) for instance. Then at other times it can be a bit test-cardy with the drums and guitar giving off no real vibe, just the feel of a technically proficient rock session.
I’m happy that this work of progressive-psychedelic folk rock is instrumental. “Agusa” has expression without the need for distraction. Really this is to be infused, not analysed, but putting my reviewing hat back on I remember reflecting that maybe this isn’t the sort of thing to stick in the mind but is very pleasant to listen to. For all the intrigue I reflected that this needed to achieve more than the status of being a nice accompaniment to an unwanted bus trip. Yet I knew that this was taking me onto a higher plane, far from my journey through the pleasant villages of East Anglia. As I listened to this album again, I appreciated its flow all the more. At times it’s like a mediaeval fayre. I realised too that “Agusa” was taking me away to lush and dreamy lands. I felt my transfer to other worlds most strongly on the luxurious “Landet Längesen” (The Land of Längesen) and “Bortom Hemom” (Beyond Hemom), the lengthy first and last tracks of the album. “Bortom Hemom” has a particularly soulful and melancholic dimension, emphasising the overall sensitivity of this largely gentle work.
Ultimately, “Agusa” is a very good listen, and an invitation into a world of nature and colourful images through the medium of folk rock music. It was an invitation that I delighted to be able to take up.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)