March 23, 2015
For the last three decades, Goran Kajfeš has been a key figure in the Swedish music scene. There’s a reason for this. Goran Kajfeš has constantly been releasing groundbreaking, genre-melting music. To do this, Goran has pushed musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. That’s been the case throughout Goran Kajfeš’ career, and has paid off.
Over the last fifteen years, Goran has been a member of various Swedish bands. This includes Goran Angles 8, Angles 9, Club Killers, Fire! Orchestra, The Moon Ray Quintet, Nacka Forum, Oddjob, Regis, Rocking Babooshkas and The Solution. However, still Goran has found time to pursue a solo career and form the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra.
It was in 2000, when Goran Kajfeš, who was born in Croatia, but raised in Sweden, released his debut album Home. However, four years passed before Goran Kajfeš returned with his sophomore album Headspin. That’s no surprise. During that period, Goran Kajfeš was a member of various bands. He was also working as a session musician, songwriter, arranger and producer. So, it’s not surprising that there were four years between Goran’s debut and sophomore albums. However, six years would pass before Goran released his third album.
X/Y, however, was worth the wait. Released in 2010, on Headspin Records, critics hailed the album one of the most groundbreaking albums of the year. So, it wasn’t a surprise when X/Y won the prestigious Nordic Music Prize. For Goran Kajfeš all his hard work was beginning to pay off.
During this period, Goran Kajfeš seemed to hardly stop working. When he wasn’t working on his own projects, he was working with other artists. Goran was central figure in the Swedish music scene. He was also a musical pioneer.
If critics, cultural commentators and music fans didn’t realise this, they did in 2013. That’s when the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra released The Reason Why Volume 1 on Headspin Records. Critics hailed The Reason Why Volume 1 as an ambitious album, of innovative, and eclectic music. Music lovers agreed, but weren’t surprised.
For the last year, the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra had been winning friends, and influencing critics and music lovers with what Goran described as “acid rock with horns.” Wherever the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra went, rave reviews followed them. This wasn’t a surprise to anyone who had seen the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra live. They knew that they were a band with a big future ahead of them.
When the Grammy Awards’ nominations were released in 2013, the members of the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra discovered that The Reason Why Volume 1 had been nominated. This was a huge honour. For Goran, all his hard work during the last nineteen years had been recognised.
Sadly, The Reason Why Volume 1 didn’t win a Grammy Award. However, many more people were aware of the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra. They anticipated the release of the followup to The Reason Why Volume 1.
Two years later, and The Reason Why Volume 2 was released on Headspin Records, on 6th April 2015. The Reason Why Volume 2 marks the long-awaited return of the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra. Joining them, are a few of their musical friends.
This includes a legend of Brazilian music, Milton Nascimento, American indie band Grizzly Bear and Cameroonian author and musician Francis Bebey. Other guest artist include Okay Temiz, Bayaz Kelebekler, Mahzar Ve Fual and Sevada. They join the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra in making The Reason Why Volume 2 an eclectic, genre-defying album.
Recording of The Reason Why Volume 2 took place at Sturepark Studio. That’s where the six songs took shape. Providing the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra’s heartbeat was a rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Johan Holmegard, bassist Johan Berthing and a trio of guitarists. Andreas Söderström played acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitar; Reine Fiske played guitar and mellotron; and Robert Ostlund played guitar and synths. They were joined by keyboardist Jesper Nordenström. He plays organ, upright piano, synths and omnichord. José González adds vocals. Then there’s the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra legendary horn section.
At the heart of the horn section, is founding member, and bandleader, Goran Kajfeš. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, who plays trumpet, cornet, percussion and synths. The other two members of the horn section are also multi-instrumentalists. Per “Ruskträsk” Johansson, plays baritone, alto and soprano saxophones, plus clarinet and flutes, and Jonas Kullhammar plays tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet and flute. This multitalented horn section plays an important part in The Reason Why Volume 2’s sound. So do Swedish mix engineer Mattias Glavå and producer Goran Kajfeš. They’re responsible for another album of pioneering music, from Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra, The Reason Why Volume 2, which I’ll tell you about.
Opening The Reason Why Volume 2 is Dokuz Seki Esmerim. Stabs of psychedelic keyboards add an element of drama. They’re the signal for the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra to cut loose. The rhythm section and blistering, wah-wah guitars are at the heart of the arrangement. Searing guitars cut through the arrangement. They’re joined by an organ, percussion and blazing horns. Together, they combine Turkish psychedelia and Balkan tinged sounds. Add to that, the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra’s unique brand or acid rock, plus elements of folk, funk, free jazz and rock. Later horns howl and wail, they’re akin to a soul-baring confessional. They’re aided and abetted by machine gun guitars, and a powerhouse of a rhythm section. Together, they create a dramatic, genre-melting opus, that shows the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra at their best.
Wistful sounding, crystalline guitars weave their way across the arrangement to Adimiz Miskindir Bizim. They’re soon joined by braying horns and the rhythm section. The horns add to the melancholy, laid-back sound. So do guitars that gently wah-wah, plus the lushest of strings. Together, they’re responsible for the arrangement’s cinematic sound. Soon, the horns change. Then it’s the guitars. They add an element of drama. Still, though, the arrangement has a beautiful, cinematic and jazz-tinged sound, where the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra show another side to their music.
Scrabbled guitars are panned left, a muted bass panned right on New Track. Soon, a guitar reverberates, hi-hats hiss and drums roll. Stabs of instruments are added, before braying, growling horns are unleashed on this nine minute epic. The Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra are enjoying the opportunity to head on a sonic voyage of discovery. It’s as if they’re feeding off each other. Instruments flit in and out. Whether it’s the pounding drums, screaming guitars or a growling horn, everything makes sense. It fits perfectly, and is akin to a musical jigsaw. Putting the pieces together, is Goran. Carefully he combines elements of free jazz, funk, psychedelia and rock. The result is a track that’s inventive, innovative, funky, mesmeric and truly captivating. No wonder, for nine minutes, you’re spellbound.
As melancholy horns plays on A Lua Girou, the sense of sadness and loss embraces you. Washes of guitars and synths dissipate. However, it’s the horns that play the starring role. Slowly, they create a poignant, and heartachingly beautiful sound. Again, cinematic describes the music. That’s still the case when a muted guitar attempts to cut loose. So do the drums and horns. They’re reigned in. Instead, the guitar sits way back in the mix, horns rasp and only the cymbals are played. By then, a piano, percussion and tender, dreamy scatted vocal have been added. They play their part in a cinematic sounding track, where beauty, melancholy and drama are omnipresent.
The arrangement to Tamzara quivers and shivers. As a horn adds a wistful hue, the rhythm section play with an urgency. Still, though, they’re playing within themselves. Gradually, they begin to kick loose. When the horn cuts loose, this is the signal. A blistering guitar solo joins the horn, as the rhythm section drive the arrangement along. Soon, another guitar is added, adding another layer of drama and urgency. Flourishes of piano, free jazz horns and a driving, dramatic rhythm section combine. Elements of free jazz, prog rock, psychedelia and rock melt into one. It’s a glorious and irresistible fusion. Especially when the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra cut loose, and become one.
Yet Again closes The Reason Why Volume 2. Here, the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra are joined by American indie rockers, Grizzly Bear. Drums add a sense of urgency while a mellotron and organ add colour. So, do the horns. They bray and blaze, while psychedelic washes trail across the arrangement. By then, the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra are in full flow on what’s another cinematic track. It also has an uplifting, feel-good sound. Throughout Yet Again, the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra toy with you. Several times the arrangement almost grinds to a halt. This allows the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra to rebuild and unleash this glorious fusion of jazz, psychedelia and rock. Despite being an instrumental, the track has a fist pumping, anthemic sound. What a way to close The Reason Why Volume 2, with one of its most memorable tracks.
Two years after the release of their critically acclaimed, and Grammy Award nominated album, The Reason Why Volume 1, the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra make a triumphant return with The Reason Why Volume 2. It’s a career defining album that should transform the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra’s career.
They pickup where they left on The Reason Why Volume 1, and push musical boundaries even further on The Reason Why Volume 2. The result is another album of groundbreaking, genre-melting music. Everything from Balkan music, experimental, free jazz funk, jazz, prog rock, psychedelia and rock are combined on The Reason Why Volume 2’s six tracks. During these six tracks, we hear different sides to the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra.
Throughout The Reason Why Volume 2 the music constantly changes. It veers between dramatic and urgent, to languid and laid back. Other times the music is beautiful, ethereal, cinematic and lysergic. It can also be captivating, spellbinding and mesmeric. That’s the case whether the music is funky, jazz-tinged or rocky. Always though, the music on The Reason Why Volume 2 innovative, inventive and is sure to prove influential.
Other musicians are bound to look at the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra, and want to follow in Goran Kajfeš’ footsteps. That’s easier said than done. Founding member and bandleader, Goran Kajfeš has been a mainstay of Sweden’s thriving music scene for just over twenty years. He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer and songwriter. He’s played in numerous bands, and has worked with many of Sweden’s leading musicians. Some of them feature on the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra. Along with a few of Goran’s musical friends, the multitalented Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra have created a career defining album.
The Reason Why Volume 2, which was out on April 6th 2015, on Headspin Records, surpasses The Reason Why Volume 1. That took some doing. After all, The Reason Why Volume 1 was nominated for a Grammy Award. However, two years later, the multitalented Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra have come of age on The Reason Why Volume 2. They seem to have matured as a band. What’s more, the music on The Reason Why Volume 2 is even more eclectic and almost flawless. That takes some doing. However, Goran Kajfeš is a musical innovator. With Goran at the Arekestra’s helm, they’re definitely destined for greater things.
While the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra are already popular in Europe and America, their latest album, The Reason Why Volume 2, should transform their career. Hopefully, the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra’s star is in the ascendancy. This should lead to them playing bigger venues, and becoming the toast of the festival season. No wonder.
The Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra are musical pioneers. They’re responsible for the groundbreaking, genre-melting, music found on The Reason Why Volume 2, the Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arekestra’s musical Magnus Opus, which showcases one of Europe’s most exciting bands at the peak of their musical powers.