Thursday, October 4, 2012

ANNA SJÄLV TREDJE – Tussilago Fanfara (Silence, 1977)

International relevance: ***

Ranked #24 on the blog's Top 25 list

This overlooked duo is sometimes dismissed as a Tangerine Dream or a Ash Ra Tempel rip off, and maybe that's the reason why it isn't as heralded as it should be. True they have a sound reminiscent of some of kraut rock's more cosmische acts, but to write them off simply as epigones is unfair. There's something decidedly Swedish to them, a strong sense of a mystical fir forest blended in with the outer space soundscapes. Or if you like, they are constantly travelling the border between a wonderful dream and a haunting nightmare.

Their three dimensional sound is highly evocative, and halfway through ”Inte utanför tiden” a distant fuzz guitar kicks in, hinting at emotions provoked by the majestic Älgarnas Trädgård. ”Tussilago Fanfara” is a 40 minute floating journey through the inner and outer space.

Anna Själv Tredje, who took their name from Leonardo da Vinci's painting ”The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne”, managed to release this one album only, but they did several sessions for Swedish radio show Tonkraft. One track from such a session was included in the compilation series ”Tonkraft”, on the ”1977-78” volume to be precise. ”Snöfall och daggyra” is only available on this various artists compilation, and their full Tonkraft recordings serve as additional albums since they consisted of entirely exclusive material. It's well worth tracking down those rare recordings if you like ”Tussilago Fanfara”.

Leonardo da Vinci's painting, c. 1510. 
Band members Mikael Bojén och Ingemar Ljungström founded Anna Själv Tredje already in 1971. It's unclear though when they eventually split up. This is how parts of the story goes: When Ljungström met Dan Söderquist from the aforementioned Älgarnas Trädgård, they formed trio Cosmic Overdose in 1978, together with Ragnarök's Kjell Karlgren. Cosmic Overdose released two albums (plus a few singles and a cassette-only album) of excellent electronic post punk. Ljungström took the stage name Karl Gasleben (sometimes Terminalkapten Gasleben) and Karlgren performed as Regnmakarn. In 1981 Cosmic Overdose became Twice A Man after Karlgren/Regnmakarn left the group. It seems possible though that Anna Själv Tredje and Cosmic Overdose had overlapping careers for a while, as one Per-Axel Stenström claims he played with Anna Själv Tredje for a while the early 80's, i.e. after Cosmic Overdose already was in full swing. So it's possibly that Anna Själv Tredje gradually folded as Cosmic Overdose were catching speed.

At one time in the early 90's, Bojén played morning and evening shows in Slottskogen (the Central Park of Gothenburg, the stomping ground of both Anna Själv Tredje and Cosmic Overdose). According to one attendant, the performances sounded a lot like Klaus Schulze.

The stunning cover art to ”Tussilago Fanfara” was designed by the prolific Tom Benson, a noted photographer whose exceptional and suggestive photographic montages has been exhibited several times in art galleries in Sweden. Benson also took the picture of Nynningen for their ”För full hals” album, and he was a close friend of Freddie Wadling, one of Sweden's most remarkable vocalists ever. Benson unfortunately died in 2008. The cover of ”Tussilago Fanfara” fits Anna Själv Tredje's music perfectly.

”Tussilago Fanfara” is one of those albums that still demands a CD reissue. The lack thereof shows just how poorly the progg legacy is treated by the original labels and reissue labels alike. So much fabulous music is still forced to inhabit the sphere of obscurity, and it's a huge shame that this album is still part of it.

from Various Artists: "Tonkraft 1977-78" 

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