Sagor & Swing: Orgelplaneten

Sagor & Swing are a Swedish duo consisting of Eric Malmberg and Ulf Möller, and Orgelplaneten is their fourth and, sadly, final album. Expanding on their previous organ and drums line-up, this time the duo add Moog and accordion to the mix. Möller, meanwhile, is perky and effervescent on the drums. The result is a delightful suite of instrumental pieces teeming with sheer joy and boundless energy.

Things get underway with “Henriks födelsedagsmelodi,” in which an unutterably lovely accordion theme is propelled along by lively, inventive percussion. The duo barely pause for breath before slamming into “Äventyr i alperna,” the longest piece on the album, a widescreen panorama of funky intensity. From here on, Sagor & Swing deliver track after track of sustained melodic brilliance, the organ and synth swinging with infectious spirit.

Like all great pop music, Orgelplaneten assimilates its influences and makes of them something bright, shiny and entirely new. More than one track evokes 60s easy listening mood music, while “Smedjebacken by night” carries a hint of reggae skank. But Sagor & Swing transcend these influences and add their own, uniquely European sensibility, confounding the stereotypical image of Sweden as a place of Bergmanesque darkness and melancholy.

Malmberg, who writes all the music, is a gifted melodist. Time after time he alights on a distinctive phrase or motif and invests it with a ringing, persuasive charm. For all its surface exuberance, this is no light, throwaway confection. This music is urgent and blissful, built on a rock-solid bed of invention and appealing irresistibly to the listener’s head, heart and feet all at once. Orgelplaneten is a stone cold masterpiece.

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