Regular readers, and especially those who have moved with me from my ‘Psych Insight Music’ blog, will probably be aware of my fondness for… and fascination with… Swedish music of a certain ilk. Music that is difficult to describe en mass, but which is probably best explained by the Spotify playlist that I began a few years ago, and continue to add to (now with a track from this very album).
Most of the musicians that make up Svenska Psykvänner (Swedish Psych Friends) appear a number of times on this playlist. It is a group that, according to Adam Harmsworth of Drone Rock Records, was “formed of various members of Swedish Psychedelic acts Domboshawa, CB3, Fanatism and Kungens Män. The band was created as a backing band for the Domboshawa set as part of the Drone Rock Records gig in Stockholm back in March 2019”.
One of the things that I really like about this ‘scene’ down the years has been this cross-fertilisation of ideas and styles. The musicians on this album have different backgrounds and approaches, but when they come together something special seems to happen. There seems to be a mutual respect and shared appreciation which I am sure is on no way unique to Sweden, yet there is a sonic atmosphere here that means that any track from this album fits really well into the above playlist… which I have to say is my own most played thing on Spotify.
I am not going to try to isolate this sound, I think that would be impossible, but it is evident from the drum rolls at the beginning of opening track ‘Tellus’ which pretty much heads off straightaway into a wonderful swirling morass of sounds which complement rather than compete: space and Krautrock, stoner and psych drones to name by a few. It is all so marvellously loose, yet coherent at the same time… just what improvised music should be.
After that ‘Tre Vänner’ begins more quietly… there’s a more considered feel to the beginning of this track as the band ease their way into it… as they do the sound becomes almost hypnotic as the leading guitar draws you in and the rest of the band enfold behind you. You get an enormous sense of safety and well-being as you let the music take over.
‘Landet’ is my favourite track here, and also the longest. Like its predecessor it really draws you in early and then takes you on a fifteen minute journey of discovery which rewards patience and concentration. Let’s face it if you didn’t have these qualities when it comes to music you wouldn’t be reading this… but now and again we should also acknowledge that this sort of music is there to be listened to, rather than have on in the background… and it’s on tracks like this where the innovation and musicianship really come to the fore.
The last number on the album is ‘Svandamsparken’, by far the shortest… and maybe one that is curtailed for reasons of vinyl capacity. Nevertheless it gives another snapshot of what this group is capable of. It feels more mellow and rounded than the other tracks here, perhaps because it doesn’t develop out like the others here… but it is, nevertheless, a nice way to finish in the same way as a smooth whisky is a great way to end an evening.
So while these musicians have been drawn from different bands, there is something very coherent and satisfying about the way that they play together. It is music that feels fresh and dynamic… and in a way timeless. This has been formed in the moment and it is that spontaneity that gives it its spark. But there is also tradition here too and, for me, this needs to be acknowledged as well… this is not music that emerges in isolation, but is part of a wider sonic milieu that, at the moment, just seems to keep on giving.
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