Reegonetti Band – Exploring The Unknown

 Reegonetti Band – Exploring The Unknown

Reegonetti Band – Exploring The Unknown – Album Review

For what it’s worth boys, I’m proud of ya.

After being introduced to Reegonetti Band earlier this year through the single “Reach For The Sky” back in May this year, it was more than apparent just how hard this two-man group had been working on their upcoming album – a debut that, is in fact, nearly forty years in the making.  Now…I’m not saying that they’ve worked on these specific songs for that length of time…I don’t know that they haven’t been either – all I can tell ya for sure is that since they first started outback in the 80s, it’s taken this long to get to Reegonetti Band’s debut record.  It’s pretty amazing when you think about it really.

So congratulations Börje & Ronald – it’s gotta feel fantastic to have Exploring The Unknown finally out!

I gotta say…these guys got me onboard pretty quickly.  There’s no doubt that they’re rocking in a style that’s somewhat outside of what’s happening right now in music, but by that same token, they obviously come by that honestly.  For instance, a track like “Into Oblivion” that starts Exploring The Unknown, actually dates back to 1983, when they originally wrote it…or at least, most of it – you get the idea…many of these cuts have been waiting for their moment in time, and in the process of finally getting that opportunity to be recorded, they’ve been polished up & refined that much more for the occasion.  On my first spin though, I wasn’t entirely sure that “Into Oblivion” didn’t have some kind of like…you know…almost musical-esque feel to it…there’s definitely a theatrical & performance-minded thread that runs through Börje’s vocals, and I didn’t really know how I was going to feel about that the next time this song came around on my playlist if I’m being honest with ya.  Quality wise, there’s no faults to be found here in anything that Börje or Ronald does…so it’s never an issue with that – it was just a matter of personal taste and whether or not this song was a bit too ‘welcome to the show’ – but hey, to be fair, if you’re going that route, it should probably be track number one just like it is here with “Into Oblivion” anyhow – and the real truth is, the more I listened to it, the more I actually ended up really enjoy how bright the character, personality, melody, and harmonies are.  To the point where I’d probably argue it remained one of the songs more surprising to me on this record from a personal taste point of view – so much of what Reegonetti Band does is so naturally suited to what I’d wanna hear on an everyday basis to begin with, but this track put in the work to win me over.  At the end of the day, it’s impossible to miss the sensational musicianship and the incredible attention to detail in the writing, the vibrant sound and passion within these two dudes, and the cleverness they’ve infused into the opening of this album – “Into Oblivion” may sound a bit ‘welcome to the show’ as I’ve implied, but a sonic adventure is genuinely what you’re in-store for on this record, and this first track makes that crystal clear.  I am absolutely hooked on the vocal-samples they’ve added into this song, that much I can tell ya without hesitation – each time the spoken-word narration showed up it would provide one of my own favorite moments of “Into Oblivion” – not just for the inherent awesomeness to be found in the vocals, but also in how the instrumentation surrounding it would respond to these twists in this opening track.  It’s undeniably ambitious – monumental really – but if there’s one thing I’m positive we could universally agree upon when it comes to “Into Oblivion,” it’s that you couldn’t ask for more than exactly what Reegonetti Band gives ya – from the detail in the concept to the execution, they’ve definitely got their hearts in this record, the passion that makes the difference, and the desire to create moving music.

Not gonna lie to ya – the moment I started listening to this whole record this week, I’ve been waking up with “Reach For The Sky” and its main hooks in my head just about every single day – no kidding.  Part of that is familiarity for sure – I reviewed this track earlier this year as Reegonetti Band made their way towards Exploring The Unknown, so I know this particular cut that much more than any of the rest of the lineup – but part of that is also the strengths of the main hooks too.  I’d have to go back & check and see what I’d previously written, but I can certainly tell ya that even if I praised them beforehand in my earlier review for this song, I probably STILL underestimated how much these hooks would continue to resonate and be memorable months & months later on.  Hearing “Reach For The Sky” on this record for the first time in the full-album lineup, I mean – it was almost like I hadn’t stopped listening at all really – I still felt like I remembered it from beginning to end, and they should be seriously proud of that fact.  Verifiable hooks that clearly hold up over time and are built to last – the positive spirit of Reegonetti Band comes shining through on “Reach For The Sky” – you can read my thoughts on this song in the previous review by clicking here – and take comfort in the fact the bond with this track grows stronger over time.  I’m at the point now where I feel like I’ll probably retain this song in the files of my brain from here until the end of my trips around the sun here on earth…it’s a highly memorable song, 100%.

“Dance Of The Invisible” was where these guys really started to get me on board.  Don’t get me wrong, “Into Oblivion” and “Reach For The Sky” are both solid tunes…just a little closer to home for me is all – I grew up with songs very much like these opening tracks as my father found his way into the Progressive Rock scene over here in Canada…so for me personally, they were familiar sounds & welcoming vibes that actually ended up reminding me of growing up, my childhood home, all that good stuff.  But if we’re talking about my actual interests and sound that grabs my attention because it’s freakin’ fresh, fantastic, and really does something new – “Dance Of The Invisible” is right where I’m at – I absolutely love this song.  In all honesty, Reegonetti Band is just about a hair away from latching onto a vibe that could have easily fit onto Jane’s Addiction’s Ritual de lo Habitual…one of the world’s greatest records of all-time, especially within the Alt/Progressive sound.  Aside from the occasional burst of synth that reminds you Reegonetti’s fundamental instrumentation is made up of entirely different stuff than Jane’s Addiction was – the sound itself is really close to the incredible character, charisma, and depth you could rely on that band for all throughout Ritual de lo Habitual.  So if you’re asking me, Reegonetti Band is keeping pretty damn good company if they’re getting a comparison like that…anyone that knows that record knows full-well what I’m talking about when it comes to the amount of cultural sound, vibrant instrumentation, and innovative ideas were present on Ritual de lo Habitual – and if these guys are anywhere close to that, believe me, there’s a lot of you listeners out there that should be lining up to hear “Dance Of The Invisible” – you’ll love it.  Stellar drums from Börje, tons of character in the way he plays and absolutely flawless technique in the way he hits the skins with such precision and power.  Combined with the imaginative, innovative, and inventive melody that guest-star Torbjörn Näsbom brings out through his absolutely breathtaking playing of the violin – I mean…prepare to be astounded y’all!  For me, I think “Dance Of The Invisible” would easily be right up there at the very top for myself personally…there’s so much spectacular, mesmerizing sound and brilliant ideas on display here that there’s no way you could keep complete track of it all – you just know you want MORE.  More of what?  EVERYTHING.  Like, if I had to pick just one track to listen to for the rest of the year, this could very well be the one – from the cross-cultural & worldly sound it possesses, to the fully spirited musicianship that BEAMS out the genuine passion of the players in Reegonetti Band – everything you’ll hear on “Dance Of The Invisible” is nothing short of purely awesome and completely award-worthy as far as I’m concerned.  If you’re looking for MORE out of the music you listen to – songs that are genuine as interesting as they are entertaining – you need look & listen no further – Reegonetti Band gives you exactly that on this cut.

At thirteen-plus minutes in length, “Eternal Silence” will run the gamut of what makes great Progressive music from timing switches to intense transitions, breakdowns, bring-backs, melodic twists, and an all-out adventurous & ambitious spirit that’s driven to challenge listeners to stick with its ever-morphing sound.  I could go into the whole Progressive music being beyond the scope & comprehension of the vast majority of people out there, but I can’t imagine I’d be telling Reegonetti Band anything they wouldn’t already know in saying that.  There’s no doubt that a track like “Eternal Silence” is a large ask for the people out there – I mean, realistically, it’s about the size of most EPs you’ll find from other bands & artists out there these days, on its own as one singular, mammoth track.  Listen to the production and clarity though will ya?  The confidence & precision!  Börje and Ronald can certainly play – there’s zero doubt about that when you listen to this record – but beyond the musicianship, are some truly spectacular choices in direction that really stand out too.  Like, listening to “Eternal Silence” change around the four-minute mark & eight-minute mark later on to become something altogether different as it dips into the textural grip of the breakdowns and the solos to follow – it’s absolutely STUNNING to listen to, without question.  Listen to the drum sounds they’ve got loaded in here!  Listen to the low-end vocal sample or whatever it is causing that addictive sound you hear…or the vibrant dynamics of the keyboards firing on all cylinders in a master-class of technique, texture, and tone combined…it’s absolutely enticing if you’re anything of an audiophile, like I am myself.  I can appreciate that there are people that’ll have a harder time sticking with a song over three minutes in length – and you get more than four-times that amount here in this one experience – but at the end of the day, you should be seeking out the creativity you’ll find crafted into the fabric of a song like “Eternal Silence.”  On the OTHER side of the coin – I can also recognize the fact that there are PLAYERS out there that can’t hang with holding their own for an entire three minute song too – and Reegonetti Band has no problem whatsoever thriving within the realm of thirteen, quite arguably, as flawlessly as could be done.  As I like to remind ya folks…any of those Progressive music makers out there…you just can’t beat how much they’re all truly dedicated to the craft – you just wouldn’t take on a thirteen-plus minute tune without having the purest love for the game & passion to match.  The guys are right into the art here to the nth degree, and they’re sounding absolutely fantastic; the synth solos & epic finale of this song as it deconstructs itself to the very end, is pure sonic brilliance.  A track like “Eternal Silence” is entirely its own animal…Reegonetti Band has snuck in a whole separate EP into the middle of this album for you to enjoy with this epic song…and based on its adventurous sound & spirit, you won’t find me complaining.  Listen to moments like heading into the sixth minute of this cut where they ramp up the energy and harmonies on the vocals…they can crush it with their vocal hooks or dazzle ya with their exceptional musicianship, and they’ll likely do both in the one ride through this thirteen-plus minute-long tune.  I get it – it’s a daunting task to listen to music of this length for the average everyday listeners out there – all I can tell ya is that it’s adventurous & ambitious art & music combinations like this that get me outta bed every day hoping to discover, and when I do, send me to sleep highly satisfied that all is right in the universe…that there are still bands out there like these guys that wanna make music that offers MORE.

They’ll go from the record’s longest cut to its shortest one with “Chili Explosion” next, and from here on in through the lineup of Exploring The Unknown, they’ll keep it between the five & six-minute mark after this quick four-minute tune.  “Chili Explosion” is a rambunctious cut for the short length it has…and though it’s played every bit as tightly & professionally as you’ll hear them in the rest, admittedly, it’s a bit looser of a construct when it comes to the structure & design.  For most listeners, they’ll be lucky if they’ve even had an experience with such a rad jam happening right before their ears – but that does seem a little bit like how this particular cut felt…like Reegonetti Band was left to their own devices in the studio, plugged in, said ‘let’s rock’ – and proceeded to, without any major blueprint guiding them.  Now, I’m not saying that this is what happened for a fact, it’s just how the overall sound & musicianship sounds to us as we listen.  Truly – you’d be lucky if you were at a live show watching anything other than Progressive Rock and getting to witness the kind of instrumentation you’ll find here happening in front of you…essentially, “Chili Explosion” might make for a shorter listen, but it’s fully loaded with dynamite chops, tons of energy, and the consistent quality of their performance and production skills combined.  It’s also a real statement track that, whether or not it completely makes sense sound-wise to have within this lineup or not, represents this band in an important way that furthers their story, and that’s important to note here.  “Chili Explosion” was actually the first track that they recorded back in 2010, after having Reegonetti Band on hiatus since 1984 – this was the song that inspired THEM, and confirmed they still had the chemistry & magic required to make something special outta their music.  Essentially, were it not for this very jam-style sound you’re hearing on “Chili Explosion,” the creative freedom, and the fun you can hear they’re clearly having on it – we might not have any of these other songs at all, you feel me?  So I’m all for its inclusion ultimately – it’s an undeniable departure from so much of the rest of this set in so many ways, but in terms of their own story, it’s a truly important song.

As far as I can tell, they’ve also released “Walking On Dean Street” as a single supporting this record, and just in seeing the reappearance of Torbjörn Näsbom on the violin before I had pushed play, certainly had my full approval.  Then, in actually having a listen myself, everything was instantly confirmed as to why they’ve gone with this song as a single – and to Reegonetti Band’s credit, they sold me on this song long before their featured guest even appeared.  Börje taps into what’s easily his most endearing and accessible vocal melody here…I have no doubt whatsoever that he’ll win over a whole bunch of hearts & minds with the way he’s sung this song – I felt like he was at his very best here without question.  “The song is about how you are characterized by your childhood not always feeling comfortable with it, even though you can long for long lost times” according to the band…and MAN do I feel that sentiment.  As a person that is quite often mentally rooted in his past while trying to make some kind of progress or breakthrough in the present, believe me, I connect with the core themes of a song like this one here.  “Walking On Dean Street” is a genuine gem and a really beautiful tune…cinematic in design, slightly theatrical too, but much more mellow in that regard than say, in comparison to how a song like “Into Oblivion” carried that similar feeling earlier on.  As far as the opening of any cut on this record is concerned, I think the simple piano melody from Ronald in combination with Börje at his mellow best is about as enticing as it gets…I’d be surprised if “Walking On Dean Street” wasn’t a universally loved song by everyone out there listening to this record and digging on Exploring The Unknown.  Näsbom plays a much more complimentary role here and puts in a much more subtle & supportive performance – every bit as perfectly played as the last time he appeared, but less of a starring role, to suit the needs of the song.  I’ll go into this aspect of Reegonetti Band and the choices they make in their music a bit later when I discuss “Hold On” – but suffice it to say for now, that they make extremely wise ones – they have a remarkable understanding of what a song truly calls for, and they make sure it has everything it needs – “Walking On Dean Street” is a perfect example of that through & through…it’s an exquisite beauty.

If you’re a musician…and you can’t somehow find a way to appreciate “Play” for everything that it is – have you ever really even played at all?  They went for a Gino Vanelli vibe on this cut, and they’ve done an exceptional job with that…it was one of the first names that came to mind when I heard it myself for the very first time, long before reading about that being one of their main inspirations fueling the energy & vibrant synth-bass grooves of this tune.  At the end of the day, lyrically, it’s one of my favorites – it’s real and right to the point – it’s about the grittiness of a touring musician’s life, underneath all the glitz & glamour that the people in the crowd get to see.  A genuine reminder that it sure ain’t easy – from delayed sound-checks to late arrivals, lack of assistance, lack of promotion…I mean, the amount of obstacles you artists & bands run into is endless – and you’re just looking to get out there on stage to do what you do and rock for the people!  Believe me, I get it.  “Play” gives you a solid glimpse into that, while also providing ya with an insatiably stylistic groove that’s as jazzy as it is Progressive in that classic Vanelli-esque vibe…the most you’ll find me conceding is that there’s probably a bit more dated sound to a song like this, but if you’re telling me you’re not feelin’ the groove in this song, you’re just dead inside.  LISTEN to the synth-riffs bouncin’ through the keys will ya?  Ronald’s feelin’ it here, no doubt about it – and Börje sounds equally inspired…together, they’ve given this track every chance of succeeding in the court of public opinion, even with a more noticeably dated, or era-specific sound than you’ll find on some of the rest.  At the end of the day, like we always say around these parts, it’s not always about what you’re playing, so much as how you’re playing it – and call me crazy, but I feel like Reegonetti Band gives you such undeniable passion in their songs track after track, that it should pull everyone onboard.  “Play” gives you an insightful glimpse into what life is like out there on the road from the stage to the lack of sleep in behind the scenes for touring musicians…it’s a whole lot of fun & lively entertainment without question – but it’s also a much more informative song than perhaps even they might realize.

You know…it’s really interesting to see just how far some of these songs date back to when they were originally written, like “The Future,” which traces back about as far as it gets to its demo stages in 1982.  But when you hear the amount of effort and detail in the writing and musicianship…good lord – I’m every bit as stoked for these guys to get these songs out there into the world at long last, because what on else can you do with this extreme level of creativity?  It can’t just be relegated to the trash heap of history and things that could have, should have been – a song like “The Future,” and clearly this whole lineup of cuts for that matter, deserve to have their moments in the sun – that’s a just universe that I can proudly live within.  I’m not gonna lie to ya, “The Future” isn’t my favorite song in the set, but I wouldn’t argue that they give it anything less than the 100% they’ve put into every cut on this entire record, they certainly have.  Sound-wise & structure-wise, probably just a little less suited to my own personal taste, but I certainly respect the detail in this cut and the performances you’ll find – the effort is always evident in listening to the music of Reegonetti Band and they deserve massive credit for that.  Opening-wise, give’em even more credit for establishing such genuine interest straight off the drop – Börje’s drums are HUGE here, and all-around the fiery chops on display instantly catch our attention.  Still a decent track by any stretch of the imagination – I’d be willing to bet that if you like one thing that Reegonetti Band does, you’ve got every chance of liking or loving ALL that they do – so don’t get it twisted, just because “The Future” might not be my own favorite track doesn’t mean it won’t be yours.  Any of these cuts on this record could take that top spot for any one of us listening, and it’s again credit to both Börje and Ronald for giving everything they’ve got to every song that gives each of these tracks a genuine possibility as being our favorites.  Sometimes it’s just a moment that makes the difference – like when I get to the 3:45 spot on “The Future” or 4:15 just thirty seconds later, I continually fall back in love with this song and the musicianship on display there as the song fluidly transitions to the next part.

I’ve got so many awesome notes & details about this record from in behind the scenes here, and none of them are quite as cool as what you’ll find in “Hold On,” which was the last song that Reegonetti Band recorded for this new record here.  For real – how rad is this – Ronald had the idea they should go for a duet on this song, likely to add yet another dimension of depth into the lineup – but as a result, he opened the door for an incredible opportunity that so many folks out there will never have the joy of knowing – the duet that takes place, is actually between Börje and his own daughter, artist Emma Rein!  You see what I’m saying y’all?  That’s AMAZING – and honestly, I’m always jealous when these instances, albeit rare, show up – my old man has been a professional musician all his life, and I can pretty much guarantee ya the last thing he’d ever think of doing is rocking a track with his son on it.  Awwwww – tragic right?  Cue the sad trombones, I know, I know.  I ain’t gonna lie to ya – it is actually.  Don’t cry for ME though – celebrate for Börje and Emma!  All I’m sayin’ Emma, is cherish this moment in time, because there are precious few out there that get to experience anything quite as awesome as the bond over creativity, music, and art between a father and a daughter.  Diving even further into the theme, “Hold On” is “about how responsibility and support change form when a child grows up and a parent grows old.  How children eventually take care of their parents as the parents took care of them.”  You see what I’m sayin’?  If there was a time to ever bust out a father/daughter duet, clearly this is it.  Emma sounds absolutely beautiful, bold, confident, and melodic – and most crucially, she brings out some of the best from her father in the process – Börje gives you an incredible performance on this tune as well.  To me, this is just really smart musicianship, writing, and players all-around – Reegonetti Band purposely dials-back the Progressive thread of their sound for just a moment here, in order to suit the strengths of the song, its singers, and the melody – and that’s exactly what each & every one of you out there making music should always have in mind – it’s about what the song itself needs, that’s what’s important.  “Hold On” is full proof that Reegonetti Band can execute in a variety of winning ways – they’ll happily rock their Progressive style all day long if they wanna I’m sure – but this song in particular shows that when it comes time to refine their sound to a specific vision and they go after a unique idea, that they come out with results that speak volumes on behalf of their capabilities to do exactly that.  It’s “inspired by the great ballads of the 70s and 80s” – and it certainly sounds that way – but at the end of the day, the fact that they all carry this off so well on “Hold On” is a testament to its truly timeless vibes and how songs from that era continue to resonate within the hearts and minds of the people, even now.

So.  What do you follow up the most notably sweet moment on your debut record that’s been forty years in the making with?  Well “Winter Of Death” of course!  Gotta balance out the universe right?  Ronald’s such a magnificent master of tone and texture, and he really gives you a spectacular dose of what he’s capable of in that regard throughout the length of this entire album for sure, and he gives ya a significant highlight of his skills & technique through the serious grooves of “Winter Of Death” at the very end of Exploring The Unknown.  As great as Börje has been throughout this record, they’ve got some absolutely amazing instrumental material in cuts like “Dance Of The Invisible” earlier on, and this final track on their long-awaited, highly-anticipated debut record – “Winter Of Death” is ultimately about as fascinating, mesmerizing, enchanting, and exciting of a song as you could ever hope to find in a finale.  It’s got a mix of mysteriousness to it, and a spectacular depth in the production that has every single note ringing out into the distance with crystal clarity and impeccable precision – not just an all-out incredible song, but also a genuinely insightful choice to conclude the record with.  “Winter Of Death” gives the lineup the finality it needed to cue us into the fact that it’s ending, but also leaves you on a song that absolutely has you instantly wanting to repeat the entire experience all over again.  And if that ain’t the notes you wanna go out on, I don’t rightly know what else could be – Reegonetti Band goes out on one of the record’s best with “Winter Of Death” and gives you one last supreme dose of their vibrant sound, their stunning professionalism, incredible precision, and brilliantly imaginative ideas in the music they’re making.  No objections from me to be found here on “Winter Of Death,” and nothing really here along the way that I’ve found merits any kind of serious complaints at all – they’ve put together a really strong debut, filled with remarkable musicianship, standout ingenuity, and resounding commitment.

They’ say “you get a lifetime to make your first album, and two weeks to make your second.

The first part held true – I’m officially looking forward to second record anytime now, Reegonetti Band.

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