Pathfinder, the debut album credited to the name of Stockholm, Sweden-based composer Jonas Lindberg and his band The Other Side, has potential to be submitted for one of the best releases to come out in 2016. A labour of love, Pathfinder (whose title can be interpreted in many different ways) is one of those rare musical efforts that manage to sound like very little else. With derivative acts a dime a dozen on the current music scene, listening to such an album can be an exhilarating experience. Although Lindberg’s name may be the most prominent on the cover, unlike your average ‘solo pilot’ release this is very much a collective effort, in which the input of each member of the band is recognizable, yet at the same time meshes with the others to form an organic whole.
Unabashedly eclectic, Pathfinder can be described as a ‘protest album’, and with very good reason. However, it is first and foremost a collection of inspired, thought-provoking compositions performed by a group of amazingly talented, experienced musicians who manage to come across as an extremely tight unit rather than a combination of over-inflated egos. When such collective talent is gathered together, the results may often be a tad underwhelming – especially when musicians forget that they are at the service of the music, and not the other way round.
Thankfully, this is not the case with Pathfinder. The impressive cohesion between all the artists involved, band members, results in eight tracks that display a remarkably original approach, even when external influences can be detected. While listening to the album for the first time, the closest comparison that came into my mind was with the late ‘70s– early 1990’s Pink Floyd, who are undoubtedly one of the band’s most noticeable sources of inspiration. In contrast with the majority of prog albums released in the past year or so, Pathfinder is based on relatively short compositions — and, indeed, half of the tracks are songs with a more or less ‘conventional’ verse-chorus-verse structure. The album might even be seen as a lesson on how to produce music that does not rely on 30-minute epics or convoluted concept stories in order to be progressive.
A masterful blend of mainstream sensibilities, socially-aware lyrics, intriguing atmospheres and stunning instrumental and vocal performances, this is a unique album that is warmly recommended to progressive music fans.
Get a copy of the album from Bandcamp.