What’s with all the prog-psych hybrids coming out of Sweden lately? First there was Dungen, then Dungen-offshoot The Amazing, and now Laike. All seem to be mining the diverse instrumentation and relaxed vibe of early progressive rock acts of the late-’60s and early-’70s, but without the excessive displays of virtuosity. Laike, the recording name of Christofer Stahle, stay mostly in the folk end of the spectrum on their debut album Langt Fran Stadslivets Dan (which translates to Far Away From The Noise Of The City), with flute and acoustic guitars prominent throughout. If you’re anything like me, you typically avoid bands with flautists, but Stahle knows how to place the instrument in the forefront without overplaying or misusing it. Even if all of Laike’s lyrics are in Swedish, non-speakers are still drawn in by the aching beauty of the music and Stahle’s gentle voice (think Nick Drake). “Bygger Stegar Up Till Himmelen” (or “Burning Ladders To The Sky”) is the best song, with a hushed atmosphere and delicate instrumentation that evokes scented candles, scenic sunsets and pretty much anything else tranquil and mellow you can imagine. The only area for improvement is the thin production – it gives the album a homemade feel, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but not ideal for an album so heavily invested in creating a specific atmosphere.
Give it a listen: