The story of the Swedish family project Introitus is a very long one. Some thirty years ago Mats Bender (synths and accordion) started to compose some of the songs for Fantasy on his first synthesizer. Later on, when he got married to Anna (lead vocals), Mats built his own studio and worked for many years to complete his compositions. During those years both his family and his band expanded with his two children: Mattias (percussion) and Johanna (vocals). They got the help of Henrik Björlind, who played the extra synths, accordion and second guitar. To complete the line-up they asked some Swedish guest musicians like Per Danielsson (electric and acoustic guitars), Peter Wetterberg (bassguitar), Stefan Ekedahl (bagpipes, cello), Jobs Karl Larsson, Liselotte Hellstrom, Steffan Rasmusson (fiddles), Tony Fritzon (saxophone) and Matilda Kock (flute). Well, after presenting you the team of Introitus, I’ll try to give you an impression of the individual songs of their first album Fantasy.
Genesis is the perfect 7-minute instrumental start of Fantasy. You can compare the music to bands like Ayreon, Eloy or Pink Floyd. The sound of the sea and a sudden break lead you into a rather mysterious theme with a piano and a bluesy guitar. Near the end the sound is getting darker and spacier and in the final section the violin keeps repeating the musical theme of this piece. Second song Child is beautifully sung by Anna Bender. She sings straight from the heart here and is skilfully accompanied by the accordion of her husband. To me, this piece evoked a relaxing stroll through the picturesque alleys of Paris. Near the end of this excellent song you’ll be surprised by an extraordinary symphonic guitar solo in the vein of Andy Latimer (Camel) or Nick Barrett (Pendragon). Ghost has a dark sound and an unpredictable structure. Nine minutes of intensive played neo-prog, just the way I like it: relaxing voices and melodic solos on guitar, piano and organ. It reminded me of Landmarq and Lana Lane.
The title track of this album is a long epic piece lasting for 26 minutes. It begins slowly with some weird soundscapes, but after a while the drums, bass, guitars and synths burst out from my speakers: Arena meets IQ! Next is a short piano intermezzo followed by a magical guitar sound and more synth solos in the well-known neo-prog style. Suddenly the sound of the waves appears again and a violin and a saxophone turn the epic into a completely different atmosphere. Then Introitus surprises with several guitar solos in the vein of David Gilmour. The tempo increases with glockenspiel, drums and synths followed by the heavenly vocals of Anna, her children and the sound of the bagpipe. After fifteen minutes there’s another change of atmosphere: you hear rolling waves with a violin solo, dreamy synths, acoustic guitars, a nice cello solo by Ekedahl and Anna’s pleasant voice singing romantic lyrics about her fantasy world. The spoken words of a child introduce another fantastic guitar solo by Per Danielsson and Mats Bender. The last minutes of this epic are spacey with synth waves, thunderclaps and finally you hear a cello and dramatically sung verses. What an epic piece this is! It really made me shiver all over. This epic could have been written by Clive Nolan (Arena, Shadowland). Play it as loud as you and your neighbours can endure and you’ll hear something magical.
What else can you expect after such a musical highlight? Crossroads is an 8-minute long instrumental track. It’s a mixture of a dark and spooky bass, drums and a bagpipe. In the middle-section there’s a sudden change of atmosphere because of the piano and the violin. The last minutes have been reserved for a spacey duel between the guitar and the synths ending with the theme of the beginning of the song played on bagpipe. The penultimate track Here And Now is a piano ballad sung by Anna, a musical oasis after all the symphonic bombast. The final song Magical Moment begins with a fast synthesizer solo in the vein of Clive Nolan. Deliberate lyrics and choruses make this song cheerful and optimistic; for desert you get Keith Emerson and David Gilmour-like synth and guitar solos.
The maximum score for a record reviewed in Background Magazine is five stars meaning ‘excellent’, a masterpiece, you could say, but Introitus deserve all five stars. If you like the aforementioned bands and you enjoy fine female singing then Fantasy cannot be disappointing. For those who are interested in the meaning of the band’s name: I found out that Introitus means ‘entrance’, ‘cavity’ or ‘space’, but also the introductory psalm of a mass.
***** Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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