Monday 25 February 2013

Free Fall: Camden Dingwalls February 15th, The First London Show, Exclusive Paul Slattery Photographs

Free Fall (L-R Mattias Bärjed, Kim Fransson, Ludwig Dahlberg & Jan Martens) - Photo by Paul Slattery
Mattias Bärjed has certainly hit the ground running, it's not been long since The Soundtrack of Our Lives packed up their flight cases for the very last time - just before Christmas in fact - with their final shows at the Sodra Teatern in Stockholm. Now, his side project Free Fall, which has been bubbling under for the last couple of years, has developed into a fully formed and full time band in it's own right. A band that have just unleashed their stunning debut album "Power & Volume" in a blaze of positive media reaction. There have been numerous magazine, web-site and Blog features including a full page spread in Classic Rock magazine, all extolling the virtues of this Swedish rock "super-group". Tonight, the band were making their very first appearance in the U.K. as a low-key support to The Datsuns at Camden Dingwalls, and from talking to some people in the venue, it seemed a pleasant surprise for most to find out the calibre of the night's support band. It was certainly a great chance to catch the band at such an intimate place as I am sure next time they return it will be as headliners at much larger venues. 

Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
The band, comprising Mattias on guitar, vocalist Kim Fransson, bassist Jan Martens and ex-International Noise Conspiracy drummer, Ludwig Dahlberg, took the stage and slammed straight into the superb opening number, "Free Fall". Now, Mattias has never hidden his admiration of The Who, this is after all a man who once upon a time proudly wore a Union Jack jacket when touring with The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and indeed the album's title is taken from a Pete Townshend quote. "Free Fall" is more of a nod to "Quadrophenia" era Who with it's frantically strummed guitar intro and unbelievably great bass playing from Jan Martens. As Mattias commented in a recent interview, "the only one who could play the bass like that is Jan, or John...! (Entwistle)".

Jan Martens of Free Fall - Photo by Steve Worrall
In fact a lot of Free Fall's songs are built around Jan's growling bass riffs, he has always been a superb player, you only have to listen to The Nymphet Noodlers "Going Abroad" album or "Pole Position" from The Jan Martens Frustration to realise that, but in Free Fall his inventive bass work is second to none. The band's mission statement comes next, "Power & Volume" is - sorry but I just have to use this word - "awesome", it has one of the fastest riffs I have ever heard and standing as I was, right at the front, I got the full force of Ludwig Dahlberg's depth-charge strength drumming right in the the chest. "Power & Volume" was the first song they ever wrote, apparently it originally started off based around an African drum beat but it has since mutated into a Motorhead-style thrash that takes the breath away. The next song, "Midnight Vulture" has a nice slow groove with Kim's voice not a million miles away from the throaty growl of Bon Scott.

Kim Fransson of Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
Actually, there is a lot of that AC/DC groove in Free Fall, and similar to their Swedish counterparts Spiders, that goes a long way to making their music far more accessible to me, as I have never really been into the Heavy Rock genre. "Damnation" has a heavy thudding minimalist rhythm over which Mattias sprays his trademark guitar. Next up is "Top of The World" which is a fine uptempo number with a funky guitar riff and here the band hit their stride, proving they are going to develop into one of the best live acts on the circuit. The too-short set draws to a close with the new single "World Domination" and, while Mattias leaps and kicks on one side, Jan throws his bass about on the other and Ludwig drums up a storm behind him, this is where Kim really takes control. He is brought to his knees by the song's immense chorus as he stretches his voice in a mightily impressive display of raw rock and roll vocal pyrotechnics. Kim may look angelic but there is a devil lurking within! It was a great show, much better than when I saw them in Paris last year. There is a chemistry evident both on and off the stage and a confidence that is bound to grow when the band head off on their upcoming European Tour and get  to play shows more regularly. Check out Free Fall's Facebook page for news on tour dates, more reviews and info on how you can order the album.

Mattias Bärjed of Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
Free Fall - Photo by Steve Worrall
Ludwig Dahlberg of Free Fall - Photo by Steve Worrall
Paul takes one for the team..! - Photo by Paul Slattery
You can listen to Mattias talking to us about his journey from The Nymphet Noodlers, to joining The Soundtrack of Our Lives, his successful Movie and TV soundtrack music right up to forming Free Fall, on this Special Edition Retrosonic Podcast.

Free Fall's debut album is out NOW on Nuclear Blast Records and available on vinyl, CD or download. You can see more photos, including backstage before and after the show shots, by "Liking" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page. There is a live video of "Damnation" up now on the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel, which also features lots of The Soundtrack of Our Lives material.

Free Fall - Photo by Paul Slattery
With many thanks to Mattias, Ludde, Jan and Kim and also to The Datsuns. Photographs strictly copyright Paul Slattery 2013 and Steve Worrall Retro Man Blog 2013 as credited.

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