Thursday, March 26, 2015

Björn J:son Lindh - 1971 Fran Storstad Till Grodspad

Björn J:son Lindh
Fran Storstad Till Grodspad

01. Musik från en storstad (21:48)
02. Tom Bohla 1971 (1:20)
03. Grytnäs sväller (1:40)
04. Biezlov (1:47)
05. Den dansande Wollmar (5:04)
06. I grodspadet (3:25)
07. Stäng locket - hon fryser (3:46)
08. Tom Bohla 1972 (1:13)

Liner notes by Lars Magnus Janson

To represent Swedish Radio in the international radio broadcast of the 1971 Prix Jean-Antoine Triumph Variete, a radio man, an actor and a musician were invited to depict reality through music.

The result was a large city. Based on authentic audio recordings of daily urban sounds in Stockholm, improvising musicians presented a vision of the modern metropolis. Cars, sirens, pile drivers, church bells mix into an inferno of music. From the treacherous calm of a city morning, these sounds eventually rise up to smother those sounds nature calls her own. This is a highly personal image of an environment to which millions of people are forced to adapt daily.

This personal image is signed Björn J:son Lindh.

Björn J:son Lindh, 27, has one of the most significant profiles in the modern Swedish music scene. His compositions and arrangements have contributed (among other achievements) to the success of Cornelis Vreeswijk's double LP Poems, ballads and a little blues. Lindh can also take a great deal of credit for the attention given to Bernt Staf's debut. Together with Hawkey Franzen, Lindh wrote and produced the LP View from Djupvik, and he has been one of the central figures in the celebrated group Jason's Fleece.

In the late Summer of 1971, Lindh (a flute soloist) released his debut solo album. Rarely has a pop-jazz record received as much acclaim as Ramadam.

Besides a large number of record productions, Lindh has also written music for TV and stage. He studied flute formally at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, and is also trained as a pianist.

In addition to "Music from a Big City", which received Second Prize in the 1971 Triumph Variete in Monte Carlo (and which occupies one side of this LP), this album shows Björn J:son Lindh further testing his composition and performance skills. "From Big City to Frog Sauce" is proof of how strongly a seriously trained musician and composer with a strong dramatic personality can handle modern pop music, whilst creating work that shows music a way forward in the 1970's.

Björn J:son Lindh: conductor, piano, organ, Moog and flute.
Jan Bandel, Ola Brunkert & Rune Carlsson: drums.
Palle Danielsson & Bengt Linnarsson: bass.
Kenny Håkansson, Anders Nordh & Jan Schaffer: guitar.
Mats Hagström: cello.
Lucas Lindholm: electric bass.
Hawkey Franzen: guitar, accordion.
Kenny Håkansson & Rune Gustafsson: electric guitar.
Nisse Sandström: tenor saxophone.
Jörgen Johansson and Torqny Nilsson: trombone.
Bertil Lövgren & Beinth Gustavsson: trumpet.
Lars-Erik Rönn: oboe.
Bengt Olsson & Bengt Sundberg: horn.
Karin Stig Mark, Göran Lagerberg, Anders Nordh & Hawkey Franzen: vocalsSwedish Radio Symphony Orchestra String Section.

Let me take you back to those Swedes, whom I've been rambling about a couple of weeks back. Not only do these snus addicted people have an amazing metal scene going on at the moment, which has been incredibly innovative and influential (sorry Caio), but way back in the day this country was spewing out progressive gems like a proper diamond dog suffering from bulimia.

If there ever was a clear cut case for a cd reissue, then certainly Från Storstad Till Grodspad must be it. I mean, going back to the 90s Sweden had a huge resurgence of progressive music with acts like Änglagård, Landberk and The Flower Kings just to name a few, and still they are dishing out acts that continue to gather fans from all over the globe. Yet albums I'd personally deem as long lost masterpieces - those records that will stand the test of time, these remain forgotten and unreleased. Sitting around in a shady corner waiting for the redeeming applause. I honestly don't get it, and it is a crime that albums like these aren't heralded the way they deserve.

I'll bet that the name Björn J:Son Lindh probably doesn't ring a bell? Even so, how many of you guys knew of Gentle Giant or Henry Cow before the internet. Names matter not - only the music. This man has made a lot of different tasting music spanning from these his early efforts where jazz, psych and all kinds of musical experimentation took place - to the way of disguising himself as the Swedish equivalent of Ennio Morricone creating soundtracks for such flicks as Mannen på Taket and Jägarne. Put another way: He's been around the block.

This album is the result of a highly imaginative meeting between The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Lindh, and if you're thinking: Aaahh yet another one of those rock albums that flirt around with the pomp and power of the symphony orchestra, then boy are you mistaken. Recorded on two separate occasions with but a few months in between, what you get is a side long suite that openly tears down all the prefabricated notions on how these collaborations usually pan out - and does so with an effective drill bit up front and in your face(I actually mean that in the most literary sense, but I'll get back to this), whilst the other side consists of shorter to the point tracks that still carries on that little aftermath of what went before it, like a long lingering hangover still emanating in your head.

The title track is many things. It is jazz - like te tsch te and through a multitude of alternating fusion like sections - and yet it is far away from being something you can incarcerate within any sort of black box. You have electronics buzzing, zooming, quacking away when Lindh decides to share with you his love of the moog synthesizer. It's never heavy on the ears, but I do occasionally hear it mimicking frogs and crickets - or just colouring the main events in futuresque Star Wars spices, that never feels out of place nor steal away the focus of the actual piece. Then you have the exotic psychedelic feel of the guitar that sounds strangely angular in texture - often counterpointing the nouveau symphonics in play here, that reminds me of modern composers like Stravinsky and Mussorgsky. This combination of the lone ranger guitar in heavy seas of cascading terrifying sweeps of the orchestra sends shivers down my spine, and truly feels like dancing with the grim reaper bathed in moonlight. The guitar and symphonics - man these things are unintelligible - like talking about the relationship between ice and water - even if they start as the same. They're juxtaposed forever - yet still manage to melt together as one big blurry sharp and organic beast. And just because I said that this album wasn't exactly the every day rock n symph collaboration, it still wields enough funky bass lines and masterly executed drum sections to hold the interest of the casual rock n' roller. Just you beware of the different sonic traps that lurk deep within this captivating suite. The name itself means (and don't take my word for it...) something like the voyage from the big city to the countryside, and what we get is all of the urban delights - such as drill bits(Especially the drill bit speaks to me, as it oddly enough seems to open up in what can nearly be described as true musical bloom - sounding like a whole range of different things, whilst still being a drill bit. At some point I mistook it for those insisting mating calls you get from lascivious frogs!), thundering cars, church bells, sirens - all of this crammed into the music - telling you about the horrific stress laden Zeitgeist of the modern civilisation through its very presence. It's a musical journey that takes you through all these factors, that still today feels as apt and relevant as the day of its birth. It's the fire breathing monster of every day life - the city dweller's cross. And still after all is said and done - the notes, city and nature each one has said their piece - everything ends in chaos and musical debris - with the dying whispers of a moog slowly emanating into birdsong.

Rolling and tumbling through the rest of the cuts are still these unfinished businesses, regurgitating melodies and strengths of the big kahouna. They feel like they're backing up the big boss in feel, and still they put up a relevant and slightly alternative way of looking at the music presented on the title track. There's more of a cohesive spirit for the tracks to hang their hats on though - to which the guitar is played with, and the way the drums roll together with the meatiness of the bass. One thing that doesn't fluctuate much is the way Lindh plays the flute, which is so soft and effervescent in nature that I had him picked for a woman the first time I heard the feminine touch of this wind instrument.

This is an eclectic venture to say the least. It plays on so many tangents that you forget about boxes and such. You've got bass, cello, guitar, drums, moog, violins, flute, trombone, horn, oboe, accordion, saxophone, the occasional Swedish sung vocals (which incidentally are beautiful and breezy), piano, organ and all those mentioned sound effects dropped in the mix for good measure - and there's still a somewhat harmonic feel to it, even if it speaks about the terrors of the urban inferno, and how we sometimes are afraid of the silence.