Let me tell you how much I treasure this Danish recording. I bought the vinyl of this back somewhere around 1978-79 and it became one of my favorite “unique” albums instantly. I knew of Anders because I had collected a few Savage Rose albums that he was the keyboardist and co-founder of. Savage Rose was not exactly what I was after but they did one soundtrack album called ‘Dodens Triumf ‘ which I loved. It has this same haunted carnival music characteristic, but mixed with some psychedelics and other unusual genres. Strangely enough, this Savage Rose album was a soundtrack by Thomas Koppel, Anders’ brother. Both have classical training background and their father (Herman Koppel) was classical composer. Anders has been prolific in his musical achievements all his life. He twice received the Robert for best film score (1994 and 1996), has composed music for eight ballets for the New Danish Dance Theatre and music for more than 150 movies, 50 theatrical plays and three musicals. Koppel has also composed over 90 works for classical ensembles, chamber music and 20 concertos, among them two saxophone concertos and four marimba concertos. He played the piano as a child with his father and later clarinet with several television and concert appearances. He began playing the organ in 1966. So there you have this visionary man who continues to produce great music from many angles and places.
In 1993 when I sold the bulk of my vinyl collection ( I had just bought my first house, and needed a new car badly) I chose to keep around 100 albums that I felt would never ever be issued on compact disc. I was wrong on about half of the picks but I kept the most eccentric and/or specially packaged LPs. I am happy to say I was wrong on this Anders Koppel release but it took 35 years for the CD to come out. I stumbled across this fact by accident when searching for music by Koppel since I have purchased a lot of his CD’s (which range from classical to percussive and avant garde pieces). Suffice to say I couldn’t wait to listen to this on a great system and I even got to look at my 12" vinyl while listening to this 5" disc. It sure takes me back, since I haven’t listened to that album in over 15 years or so. That happens when you own too many recordings to keep up with.
On ‘Aftenlandet & Regnbuefuglen’ the music has a narcotic spaghetti western sound at times, but in addition you have this late night empty haunted carnival atmosphere where the instruments alter from this sad to almost happy, or happy as best they can be. I recall being disappointed that all but one song was under 5 minutes because the music builds and gets exciting, then it’s over too soon. Despite that one quibble, this music thrives in short spurts and surprise directions, and some of the quickest crescendos I have ever heard. It’s like these songs are actually taking you on all the different type rides in that haunted carnival. I keep riding them too, and when I want to escape the world, I come here to this place Koppel made. I couldn’t be happier that this recording finally made it to compact disc, as now I can listen to it in a new way, and still be bowled over by it’s uniqueness and originality beyond many of the thousands of albums I own. Fact is, it is just brilliant music on so many levels that I can’t even describe them all.
Styles of gypsy, world folk, exotic, jazz, classical, South American, and progressive experimental rock plus some avant garde are used in combinations or connected together in the songs. Even some nice haunted choir pops in for a visit. Beginning with song 6 (which is actually side two of the album) the themes become more cheerful with a playful set of jazz infected exotic pieces that still have the beautiful melodies which sometimes come up front, and sometime past the mid mark of the composition. And not left behind, the fused in demented spaghetti western theme, This is exactly what draws me to this album. The absolute brilliant bringing together of styles and nice plentiful often unusual instruments used in these tunes. And you never can be sure of what’s next. No doubt this could be a soundtrack to some off kilter movie. And yes, it actually began as such. Anders had written half of this to be for the drama documentary "Evenings Land" by English film director Peter Watkins, which was a very early movie about terrorism (this must be a very forward thinking man). After he completed the film music, he continued to record and brought in a new set of musicians (who are now part of his Bazaar band- a unique and varietal exotic and all bets off type band worth checking out too).
The music begins with an understated theme, moves through many colors and passages, then quietly exists, but leaves a permanent hand print on your soul. The cover art is unforgettable as well. Using instruments like bassoon, ocarina, autoharpe, darbuka, congas, organ, all sorts of synthesizers, fuzz bass, guitars (acoustic and electric), clarinet, kettle drums, drum set, piano, shakers, bells, and much more, you get a mind full of unreal imagery, one of a kind atmosphere, and music where notes are so carefully placed for the most impact the ear can take in. This is a picture perfect album, and it is a prime example of a one of a kind fusion, never again heard. I’m going to beg Anders to make another recording like this. Wish me luck, and hey, you beg him too. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and then some.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on May 2nd, 2012