Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ANITA LIVSTRAND – Mötet (MNW, 1978)

International relevance: ***
Vocals in various languages

Ranked #12 on the blog's Top 25 list



A highly intriguing album, from the music itself right down to the cover sporting a painting by the excellent Channa Bankier who is still active as a painter, having exhibitions from time to time. (The painting itself is titled ”Mötet”, ”The Meeting”, just like the album.)



Anita Livstrand has a colourful history. As a 16 year old, she started playing in the streets 1969, performing songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell and, oddly enough, Träd, Gräs Och Stenar. She got turned on to ethnic music when she bought the Turkish saz to which she started making up songs without words. For a short while she was part of the all-female band Luftbolagets Aftonstuvning who sadly enough never released any music. Another member of shortlived outfit was Helene Bohman who later recorded an album under the alias Stenblomma, now considered a classic by progg aficionados.



In 1974, Livstrand expanded her knowledge in foreign instruments as she acquired a tamboura, on which she accompanied several Indian musicians on their visits to Sweden. She teamed up with plenty of prominent Swedish musicians for recording sessions, such as Jan Hammarlund, Turid Lundqvist,, Archimedes Badkar and Thomas Mera Gartz on his underrated ”Sånger” album from 1976. She also contributed to a couple of various artists compilations before she made her solo debut with ”Mötet” in 1978, to this day the only album to bear her full name on the front cover.



Long before the term ”world music” was coined, she weaved together an array of musical threads from around the world. ”Mötet” exposes you to blues, Bulgarian and Hungarian folk singing and Indian and Turkish influences, as well as Scandinavian traditions. All blends together to a remarkably eclectic mix that modern day world music yet has to rival. ”Mötet” is profound, spiritual, earthy and serene, most of the time all at once. The album features contributions from several stellar progg musicians with a flair for multifaceted music. Samla Mammas Manna offered Lars Hollmer and Coste Apetrea to the album's lineup, while the late Thomas Mera Gartz of Träd, Gräs Och Stenar also joined in. Not to mention Turid, Bill Öhrström, Ulf Wallander and astonishing drummer Bengt Berger. All making sure to bring the very best out of the music. If there's a single reason for inventing the word ”organic”, then this album is it. The music flows effortlessly, like a curiously effervescent stream. The music may be acoustic, but the experience is electrifying.



Given the amounts of excellent progg albums released during the first half of the 70's, it's sometimes easy to forget the nuggets from the later progg days, but ”Mötet” is one of those latter period gems. It easily stands out as one of the most inventive and exhilarating releases during the entire progg era!



After ”Mötet”, Livstrand joined forces with another one of the most broadminded singers Sweden had to offer in those days, Marie Selander. With Vargavinter, they released two albums of similar excellence, following the direction pointed out by ”Mötet”. The 80's saw Livstrand participate in recordings by Bengt Berger's Bitter Funeral Beer Band, Bolon Bata (on the mindblowing ”Trance Dance” album) and Barrikadorkestern. In the early 90's she turned into band leader herself in Anitas Livs. Live shows and albums by Anitas Livs proved that she never lost touch with music from all over the world; I saw them back then and it was a truly vitalising experience.



Surprisingly enough, and for some mysterious reason, ”Mötet” was released as a music cassette in Australia 1980. Thankfully, it was also graced with a CD release in the mid 00's, with a slightly altered sleeve.


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