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Fruitcake

Part of the contingent of Scandinavian groups that fronted the progressive rock revival of the 1990s, Fruitcake has nevertheless played a minor role. While its neighbors Landmark, Anglagard and Anekdoten were busy defining a new, darker, more saturated prog rock sound, Pål Søvik and his friends stuck to a format closer to neo-prog or at least heavily informed by the mellow mid-tempos of Pink Floyd circa Wish You Were Here and Camel circa Moonmadness.



Fruitcake's future didn't look bright in the beginning. From 1990 to 1997, the group's history consists of a succession of departures and break-ups. Drummer Pål Søvik and bassist-keyboardist Tore Bø formed the quintet The Stinking Rich in 1990. A few month later a second drummer came on board, motivating a name change to The Fool. With about 40 minutes of compositions in hand, the group entered the studio for the first time, but not before shedding its extra drummer along the way and loosing its female vocalist during the sessions. The group turned to Søvik, who has a soft voice not unlike that of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. From then on he would be the group's lead singer, singing from the drum stool. With this new line-up (Søvik, Bø, guitarist Steffen Holthe, and keyboardist Siri M. Seland) the unit was rechristened Fruitcake and the first album titled The Fool Tapes (a nod to their past) came out on the small Norwegian imprint Briskeby in 1992, in a limited edition of 500 copies (now near impossible to find).



Holthe left for his military service and lost interest in the band while away. Meanwhile, the English neo-prog label Cyclops was very impressed with Fruitcake's debut and signed them as its first non-UK artist. How To Make It was recorded with the help of two session guitarists and came out in 1994, at which point Bø also left. Aboard came bassist Gunnar Bergersen and guitarist Jens G. Sverdrup for the sessions that yielded Room for Surprise. Upon its release in 1996 Seland quit. Helge Skaarseth was invited to take the keyboardist job but the group disintegrated in early 1997.



At that point Fruitcake had not released two albums with the same line-up. Yet the nature of the music had remained surprisingly constant, thanks to Søvik's leadership and songwriting duties. He soon reconstructed the band with Skaarseth on keyboards, bassist Olav Nygard, and guitarist Robert Hauge who had already performed live with the band on a few occasions. This line-up would prove to remain stable, recording One More Slice (1997), Power Structure (1998) and A Battle a Day (2001). ~ François Couture
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