Jonas Lindberg And The Other Side certainly bring a lot of styles and influences to the table on Miles From Nowhere, which is decidedly fundamental to progressive music. It would be amongst the bullet points in creating a list for a definition of progressive rock. Being able and willing to mix and match styles and bring them to bear as a song requires them, to have diverse and varied influences but not being a slave to imitating them. As a painter might, having their palette brimming with potential colours.
Miles From Nowhere is actually the band’s second full studio album but they have released a couple of substantial EPs as well. They coalesced around Jonas Lindberg while he was working on an exam project at music college, and the outcome proved to be fruitful and promising. Jonas is the key figure though, being the writer and principal player on the songs. This second album features the same line up as its predecessor along with a few guest musicians. Sadly, keyboardist Michael Ottosson, who played on the first album, passed away in the summer of 2020 leading to Jonas taking on full keyboard duties for this release.
The opening track, Sonic Motive Man, blends some jaunty time signatures with melodic folk music whilst telling the tale of a man whose intentions are secretive and hidden. Little Man is much more of a creative pop-rock song dealing with confronting one’s inner child and reflecting on your life’s aims. Summer Queen takes a look at the four seasons and is a full-blown epic clocking in at over a quarter of an hour. It is a brilliantly paced piece that ebbs and flows. Oceans Of Time is another substantial piece that deals with the trials of ending a relationship. The stormy ocean metaphor is particularly astute. Astral Journey is a folky instrumental stacked with odd time signatures. Why I’m Here deals with the issue of stalking, essentially a progressive pop song played in 7/8 time.
Undoubtedly though, the star turn is the multipart title track Miles From Nowhere. It is a mammoth twenty-five-minute suite comprised of five pieces that deals with recovering from a failed relationship. It is a chance for the band to make grand sweeping musical gestures, with shifting moods from the intricacies of the opening overture to psychedelic folk passages, through heavy rock, balladeering, culminating in an epic symphonic prog laden magisterial anthem.
There are sterling performances from all the musicians involved with this album. Jonathan Lundberg’s drumming on Secret Motive Man is cutting, in providing the contrast that the otherwise folky song requires. Jenny Storm sings gorgeously on Summer Queen while Simon Wilhelmsson creates energetic biting rhythms drumming on Oceans Of Time. There’s some great percussion work from Maria Olsson and Jonathan Lundberg on Astral Journey. Vocalist Jonas Sundqvist manages to be both powerful and emotive, though subtle when required. Throughout the guitar work of Calle Stålenbring, Nicklas Thelin and Joel Lindberg is often spectacular and sometimes crazy, while Roine Stolt produces a potent and impressive guitar solo that climaxes Miles From Nowhere.
All this would have been empty though were it not for the strength of Jonas’s song-writing skills. He is quite adept at the variety of styles on display, from the folkish elements that are almost like singer-songwriters, to hard rock and the more extravagant symphonic prog. His own musical contribution is excellent. Jonas himself is a skilled and adept player. Whether on keys, bass or guitar he is creative and tasteful. He obviously has all the skills in the bank but doesn’t use them needlessly on superfluous soloing. The music is contained but not constrained, it might be angular at times but it is allowed to flow.
This album probably falls within the symphonic prog genre, but it is laced with other styles that seemingly draw it away from that. There’s a strong folk element, a balance between the electric instruments and the acoustic guitars and some of the percussive moments. The band never loses sight of its melodic side, and retains pop-rock elements throughout. AOR is definitely drawn into the fold. The overall sound is a modern progressive one, but the influences garnered over time are subtly evident. A section of a song may seem a little Beatlesque, there are hints of Yes, not least in their 1980’s progressive-pop phase, you can hear hints of the heaviness of Deep Purple in I Don’t Know Where You Are. Many of the classic progressive acts are within the DNA. Jonas does not hide the fact that the title song itself is somewhat of a homage to these influences. The undoubted influence of The Flower Kings is foremost though. Jonas doesn’t succumb to copycatting the band in anyway, but Roine Stolt’s involvement on Miles From Anywhere seems a very fitting and natural one, not least when it is as successful as it is here.
Jonas and the band have created an extremely strong album. It is full of movement and light and shade. Its mammoth length of over seventy-six minutes seems over in a flash with no section appearing to over stay its welcome. The diversity of the songs adds to this. It is a quality meal of myriad flavours. A very tasty one too.
1. Secret Motive Man (07:26)
2. Little Man (05:49)
3. Summer Queen (15:51)
4. Oceans Of Time (11:36)
5. Astral Journey (05:50)
6. Why I’m Here (04:26)
7. Miles From Nowhere Pt I: Overture (06:54)
8. Miles From Nowhere Pt II: Don’t Walk Away (04:18)
9. Miles From Nowhere Pt III: I Don’t Know Where You Are (04:39)
10. Miles From Nowhere Pt IV: Memories (03:00)
11. Miles From Nowhere Pt V: Miles From Nowhere (06:42)
Jonas Lindberg – bass, keyboards, guitars, lead & backing vocals
Jonas Sundqvist – lead vocals
Jenny Storm – lead & backing vocals
Jonathan Lundberg – drums
Simon Wilhelmsson – drums on “Little Man & Oceans Of Time”
Calle Stålenbring – guitars
Nicklas Thelin – guitars
Maria Olsson – percussion
Joel Lindberg – lead guitar on “Why I’m Here”
Roine Stolt – lead guitar on “Miles From Nowhere”
Label: InsideOut Music
Release date: 18th February, 2022
Format: Ltd. CD Digipak / Gatefold 2LP+CD & LP-Booklet / Digital Album