Ever since Gungfly’s On her Journey to the Sun dominated my January listening, the year 2018 has been saturated with the brilliance of Rikard Sjöblom, especially as I proceeded to mine the stereophonic riches of the Gungfly Rumbling Box since its release earlier this year.
Even so, I was scarcely prepared for the devastatingly jazzy prog onslaught of Friendship when it finally arrived. Thanks to multiple listens, which have only led to ever-increasing enjoyment, the disc makes my Top 10 Prog list here at #3.
The theme of friendship is very skillfully handled, making this a concept album that ascends to the highest echelons of excellence.
In an age where digital media are relentlessly assaulting polite society, and people whom you thought were your friends suddenly unfriend you and ghost you on account of some mysteriously vague line demarcating a non-negotiable political tribalism, the poignancy of this Gungfly album’s deep exploration of childhood memories is all the more powerful.
The album gently evokes not only feelings that many will recognize as resonating with their own experiences of personal loss, but it also evokes the loss of genuine human sympathy and compassion as a generational event, as technology brutally empowers people to treat others as they themselves would never want to be treated.
After heavy immersion in the album’s seven main tracks over many months (thanks to a review copy obtained far in advance), I am now also enjoying the amazing extra tracks on my CD copy, which I of course purchased to support this fine music, yet which only recently arrived in my mailbox.
Mark my words, you will want to own this CD, and your bonus reward will be the absolutely fantastic extras: “Slow Dancer” and “Past Generation” (and a radio edit of the title track slicing it down to 6:31, less than half the length of the original epic of 13:41).
It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite track on Friendship, thanks to the continuously dazzling diversity in the music. But currently, for me, I am most fond of the rockin’ “Past Generation.”
Nonetheless, you yourself are sure to make every track your personal favorite, depending on the day of the week, and on exactly where you are in discovering the many beautiful depths of this stunning release, just as I too experienced, spinning through it and exploring every tree and glade, winding through the cycle of seasons.