Sunday, October 1, 2017

VILDKAKTUS – Tidsmaskinen (MNW, 1970)


International relevance: ***
Swedish vocals

Vildkaktus are probably best known for their 1971 album ”Vindarnas vägar”, a more ”typically” prog sounding affair than its predecessor, the un(der)sung ”Tidsmaskinen” (”the time machine”). ”Tidsmaskinen” was one of the first albums to be released by MNW Records (cat. no. MNW 11P), and is one of the label's most rewarding releases of 1970.

Tobias Petterson describes the album nicely in ”The Encyclopedia of Swedish Progressive Music” : ”With strong songs and interesting Swedish-language lyrics, 'Tidsmaskinen' in full of intricate and appealing sounds presenting a unique blend of vocal harmonies, fuzz guitars amd wild piano jazz – often within the same song.” ”Tidsmaskinen” also has a certain U.S. West Coast vibe, and with its jazzy touches, a band like Spirit leaps to mind. Add to that a generous melodic sensibility inherited from guitarist and singer Olle Nilsson's previous band '14' (who released the very rare album ”In a Bunch” on Olga Records in 1966).

References aside, ”Tidsmaskinen” is a truly original work which doesn't reveal its full splendour until after several spins, but even after one has grown familiar with it, there are still enough of adventurous song structures and suprising style changes to keep the listener's interest at peak all through. Best of all: it never sounds mannered and artificial, only rich with ideas gracefully merged into a cohesive whole that impresses in all the right ways.

Apart from their endearing debut album and the aforementioned ”Vindarnas vägar”, the band released ”Natten” in 1973 which turned out to be their last album as Vildkaktus. They also had two 45's out in 1971 and 1972 respectively, including a total of three non-album tracks. A Swedish Radio session for the Midnight Hour show in 1971 were subsequently released as part of the 40CD box set ”Progglådan” in 2013.

In 1994, Olle Nilsson won a lookalike contest arranged by a commcercial TV network, bringing his part as John Lennon in long running Beatles tribute band Liverpool to nationwide success. Liverpool also appeared in the Eurovision Song Contest national selection in 2003, but their contribution ”Love Is All” didn't make it to the final round.

Both Olle Nilsson and piano player Gösta Nilsson was in fusion outfit Ibis which pretty much was a later incarnation of Vildkaktus. Originally a trained church musician, Nilsson also worked as a professional choir master, thus meeting soon-to-be noted jazz vocalist Monica Borrfors with whom he recorded the album ”Your Touch” (which, as it happens, also featured another former Vildkaktus member, bass player Tommy Johnson.)

Drummer Ali Lundbohm appeared on a couple of albums by other progg acts in the early 70's including Contact's final LP ”Utmarker”, before joining successful blues singer Rolf Wikström's backing band.

”Tidsmaskinen” bassist Håkan Thanger went on to work with several Swedish high profile performers as a songwriter, engineer and musician. He also took a shot at a solo career, recording a one-off 45 for a camper manufacturing company, scoring a hit with the humurous ”Polarbjörnen” in 1976. Thanger now works for a job center.

Beatvisa

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