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ANEKDOTEN: "Live"
Jasrac; THE DARK AETHER PROJECT: "The Dark Aether Project"; DAP

By Mark Jenkins

Friday, July 3, 1998; Page N22

Many contemporary offspring of the '70s prog-rock movement have moved in the direction of jazz or electronica, but Anekdoten keeps the faith. The four five-to-eight-minute pieces on the Swedish quartet's "Live" have their abstract and even ambient moments, but they also feature vocals, classically derived embellishments and driving hard-rock passages, all characteristics of prog's glory days. It's hardly surprising to learn that the band's repertoire includes "Larks' Tongues in Aspic II," which dates from King Crimson's first reign.

Niklas Berg is credited with clarinet, organ and mellotron, but it's his guitar that dominates such tracks as "Nucleus" and "Karelia," which recall the days when prog and metal were cousins. "A Way of Life" is more delicate, highlighting Anna Sofi Dahlberg's cello at first, but Berg's guitar eventually comes to the fore. These pieces aren't songs exactly, but their more assertive passages wouldn't surprise Led Zeppelin fans.

The Dark Aether Project also recalls King Crimson, but sounds more like the stripped-down '80s edition of that band. This Baltimore trio's self-titled, seven-track disc features only guitar, drums and "stick," although guest vocalist Jason Wilson appears on three tracks, including a slightly melodramatic acoustic-guitar ballad, "Bitter Harvest." Guitarist Yaman Aksu has a jaunty, percussive style that recalls Crimson's Robert Fripp; his playing gives such pieces as the aptly titled "Drive Time" an easygoing propulsion.

Both appearing Thursday at Phantasmagoria. To hear a free Sound Bite from Anekdoten, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8122. For a Sound Bite from the Dark Aether Project, press 8123. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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