Monday, July 15, 2013

SPILLD MJÖLK – Svart mjölk (Spilld Mjölk, 1975)

International relevance: ***
Swedish vocals

Spilld Mjölk is a curiousity that is completely unknown to most but in high demand among collectors. Privately released in 1975 on the band's own label, it is indeed amateurish but in a good sense. Their acoustic blend of psychedelia and folk-tinged music is oddly attracting, and might appeal to fans of UK folk rockers Stone Angel and Danish avant folkies Furekaaben. Lyrics are in Swedish and have a slight left wing touch. However, it isn't necessary to grasp the lyrics to enjoy the album as the strange mood of the music is the most striking thing about ”Svart mjölk”. The underground sound has a spooky vibe that gets to you on a deeper level.

The band members were pupils of Kalix Folkhögskola where the album was primitively recorded during a week in May 1975, but was founded in Luleå, a city in the Northern part of Sweden, by multi-instrumentalists Tommy Skotte and Erik Ahlstrand. Actually, almost all of the seven members play several instruments, such as flute, violin, cello, sitar and saxophone apart from the obvious guitars and percussion. None of them is a flashy player however; their strength is the collective sound fuelled by twisted improvisations and a dronelike flow, particularly prominent in the sitar driven track ”Till döden skiljer oss åt” (which, by the way, is not a cover of ”Norweigan Wood” as has been claimed). But ”Svart mjölk” is a state of mind perfectly illustrated by the evocative album cover, as much as a collection of distinct songs. Therefore, it's hard to pick any particular song as a favourite; the album works best as a whole. Once you get into it, it stays with you.

On the strength of the otherwordly mood and the fact that it was privately released in an assumingly tiny edition (distributed by Ahlstrand himself), ”Svart mjölk” has become a much sought after item. If you ever come across a copy of it, expect it to dig deep holes in your wallet. To the best of my knowledge, it hasn't been reissued on CD.

Violinist and singer Lars Frykholm was also a member of the huge Luleå based rock band Anton Swedbergs Swängjäng (all in all they had 37 members!). Tommy Skotte later became the main man of Skottes Musikorkester who released two 45's in the late 70's. Spilld Mjölk however is their most original effort, and although a spiritual kinship with a few other international bands, ”Spilld mjölk” is very much an entity of its own. Anyone into 70's fringe folk should consider it a must-have.

Under statsmaktens dass

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