Thursday, December 20, 2018

ORIENTAL WIND – Chila-Chila (Sonet, 1979)

International relevance: ***
Instrumental

The second Sonet album credited to Oriental Wind with great Turkish drummer Okay Temiz at the helm. Those familiar with his other albums including those by the majestic Sevda know what to expect from ”Chila-Chila”, a fine blend of Turkish modes and Swedish jazz.

Those thrilled by Oriental Wind's eponymous 1977 debut but disappointed by the too fusion-y ”Bazaar” from 1981 should certainly lend an ear to this effort. Lots of Eastern flavours and a constant motion forward thanks to Temiz himself, Bobo Stensson's piano excursions and Lennart Åberg's forceful and often transcendent sax playing.

Only ”Julu Kara Nayni” feels a bit bland in the company of the more adventurous tracks dominating the album, such as ”Chila-Chila”, ”Estergon Kalesi”, and most of all the aboslutely marvellous ”Karasar Zeibegi” with its haunting, melancholy melody soaring in the heights of Arbete & Fritid passing Fläsket Brinner's ”Gånglåten” on the way.

A lovely album!

Full album playlist

ROLAND KEIJSER & ANDERS ROSÉN – Forsens låt (Hurv, 1975)

International relevance: **
Instrumental

One of the true masterworks to come out of the Swedish folk music scene of the 70's, and a pioneering work too when it came out in 1975 as the first release on the Hurv label: ”Forsens låt” was the first time ever than the soprano sax was used on a record with Swedish folk music. Handled by Arbete & Fritid illuminary Roland Keijser, it beautifully supports, chases and embraces Anders Rosén's fiddle in a number of traditional tunes augmented by a slew of carefully crafted Rosén originals. The music moves in a space of its own, familiar yet different. Explained Rosén in an interview I did with him and Keijser in 2014:

”'Forsens låt' is an obvious attempt at creating a 'fantasy dialect' within folk music. It sounds like a clearly defined style, but you can't really place it in time or geography.”

”We were careful not to sentimentalize the old folk music,” Keijser elaborated, ”and we didn't want to jazzify it or dress it up in nifty chord progressions or adapt it to God-knows-what. We just wanted to play the songs straight without any hidden intentions, only adding a new timbre through the soprano sax.”

The results are stunning, thick with rich textures of the intertwined timbres of the fiddle and the sax, and melodies dense with equal parts of pertinence and alluring ancient lore. It's Swedish blues without any stylistic evidence of American blues as we know it.

I realize that Swedish fiddle music isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if there's one album I'd like to recommend to listeners to the uninitiated, this is it. It's a masterpiece.

Springlek

ORIENTAL WIND – Live In Der Balver Höhle (JG-Records, 1978)

International relevance: ***
Instrumental

A document of Oriental Wind's powerful performance at the fifth annual jazz festival held at the Balver Höhle in Balve, Germany in June 1978. The impact is only lessened by a somewhat muddy sound, but if you can listen beyond the aural fidelity, you're in for a fine treat. All material is based on Turkish traditional music arranged by band leader Okay Temiz, but the quintet (also comprising Oriental Wind regulars Lennart Åberg on saxes and Bobo Stensson on piano) have a go at it with an explosive Coltrane-like fervour. The ensemble playing is on top level, with the five performers working up a transcendental frenzy, culminating at the end of ”Dere Geliyor Dere”. Haci Tekbilek's baglama (a Turkish lute of the saz family) is an excellent addition, adding a U.S. Kaleidoscope touch to parts of ”Fidayda”. That all tracks were originally released on their brilliant studio debut doesn't make "Live at the Balver Höhle" redundant at all. The live versions are a very good complement to the studio incarnations, although they would have benefitted from a better recording.

Tamala Delihoron

ANDERS ROSÉN & OVE KARLSSON – Låtar med Anders Rosén och Ove Karlsson (Hurv, 1979)

International relevance: **
Instrumental

A rarely seen album with a tight Arbete & Fritid connection. Ove Karlsson was of course one of the most prominent members of Arbete & Fritid, while folk fiddler Anders Rosén joined them for their 1977 double album ”...sen dansar vi ut”, like this album released on Rosén's Hurv label. Here Karlsson provides cello, zither and guitar, while his compadre sticks to a fiddle with sympathetic strings. The combination of fiddle and cello in particular adds baroque sounding characteristics to these original Rosén pieces which is very pleasing to listen to. And both participants are of course class 'A' musicians with good ears for complementing interplay.

While not a surefire recommendation to people not used to music deeply rooted in traditional tunes and folk fiddling, the album has a fine atmosphere with plenty of droning qualities that might appeal to fans of ”...sen dansar vi ut”.

The front cover drawing is by Anders Rosén's daughter.

No links found.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

BJÖRN FAMNE – Björn Famne (Rasp, EP 1975)

International relevance: **
English vocals, instrumental

Despite being only a five-track 7” EP, Björn Famne's lone solo outing is a split personality work musically speaking. It features a semi-spacey take on classic trad tune ”Visa från Utanmyra” with soft wah wah, vibraphone and acoustic guitar clearly nspirated by UK folk guitars such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Davey Graham. The acoustic twin guitar work of Renbourn and Jansch is also evident on ”Bach Goes to Town”, while ”Mañha De Carneval” is soft late night bossa nova. ”Njudungssjåttis” is a bluesy rock'n'roll track of little merit.

The track here that really stands out here is the EP's only non-instrumental and also Famne's most famous one, ”Vampire”. Full of wild, screaming electric guitars over a persistent heavy groove it wouldn't have been out of place on Scorpion's ”I Am The Scorpion”. It would also have been the best track on that album. Instead this example of excellent half sloppy hard rock was resurrected for the third volume of the comp series ”Who Will Buy These Wonder Evils" which turned into a fullblown classic.

Björn Famne is still active and has played with several bands in different genres over the years. His recorded output is relatively meagre though. Apart from this very rare EP (made a bit more obtainable by the Woah Dad! Record Store Day 12" reissue in 2016), there are a couple of tracks by Famne led band Famntag on the local ”Aktiv Ungdom: Alsterett” V/A comp. He also made an album and a couple of singles with Örebro band Lix in the early/mid 80's, and appeared on an EP by Christian youth choir Ingarps Ungdomskör, ”Jag vill leva nära dig” (release date unknown).

Full EP

NAILBAND – The Most Remarkable Nailband (Columbia, 1972)

International relevance: *
English vocals

Stylistically speaking, this is a somewhat parenthetical inclusion, but seven of the songs on "The Most Remarkable Nailband" were written by Lasse Tennander, either on his own or together with Nailband main man Peter Lundblad. (Lundblad also appears on Tennander's 1972 debut album ”Lars Vegas”.) The album – the only one released under the Nailband banner – is far from as remarkable as the title suggest, but it's an OK effort if you're into early 70's West Coast stuff and singer/songwriter pop. Parts of it are somewhat similar to the very first few and unjustly and pettily slagged albums by Tomas Ledin. Two songs in particular are fine, album opener ”Lady of Lore” with a not too overt strain of turn-of-the-decade Moody Blues, and ”Dreamer” that wears its David Crosby influence on its sleeve and features some nice dreamy guitar. (Not a far-fetched reference as the album also includes a cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio", however not particularly memorable.)

As a sidenote, the rumour (supported by a Discogs entry) that there's a monochrome variation of the album cover seems entirely erroneous, originating from a cover scan posted on the Swedish Musikon/Progg.se website that had a bad habit of publishing brown & white pictures of record covers. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

B.L. MAGNELL – Idyllen (Jerome, 1976)

International relevance: **
Swedish vocals, English vocals

After a long time hesitating over if this semi-rare but never expensive album should be included or not, I decided to give it the benefit of doubt and give this relatively obscure album some attention. I realize of course that this album isn't for every reader of this blog as it's not a straigh-laced progg album, but then again it's not that far removed from singer/songwriters generally rewarded with the progg approval either. Also, it's a quite good album with underpinnings of mid 70's West Coast sounds, Southern country funk, folk and narrative country music. ”Idyllen” has an appealing sound that's both mature and slightly low budget at the same time that gives it a slight outsider feel. And – dare I say it? – progg touch.

Bo Lennart Magnell – not related to Ola – recorded ”Idyllen” backed by unknown Landskrona four-piece Änglamat in 1976, and released it on the Jerome imprint later the same year, a label mostly (un)known for releasing several albums of Swedish dance bands around the same time as ”Idyllen” Magnell sings with a slightly nasal voice that sometimes makes him sound like a cross between higher-pitched and less troubled John Holm and a weaker-voiced version of Straight Records artist Tim Dawe. But he sings with a certain urgency that catches my interest even if the (sometimes vaguely political) lyrics in English and Swedish are a bit on the cheesy side.

Not all songs are good but some of them are just fine. ”Ondskans tid” may seem a bit overworked with its semi-funky arrangement defined by Tommy Öhlund's busy bass playing, but it has a great melody. The same can be said of ”Ett sagoland”, a decidedly folksy tune – add to that an almost krautish flute hovering in the background towards the end. You could blame the title track for being mawkish but damn it if you don't find yourself humming along to it before it's over! The highlight however is ”Lögnarens kost” in which the folk influences really comes to the fore in an irresistably bumpy and contageous little track. 

B.L. Magnell was also a member of dance band in the 70's called Lenne Magnells (terrifying). Between 1994 and 2007, he was a member of country outfit Highway 40 (which makes perfect sense as the country strain is obvious already on ”Idyllen”). Highway 40 had at least one album out with both covers and self-penned songs.

Unfortunately, several of the best tracks aren't on Youtube so the links below might give you the wrong impression of the album.