I have recently been reading David Stubbs excellent book ‘Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany’. In it you really get a flavour of the milieu of the those amazing bands from the early 1970s who basically tore up the rock/ pop/ blues playbook to create something that was unique to every band (‘Krautrock’ being something of an uncomfortable umbrella term used to classify this originality and diversity, something which is in and of itself rather ironic). Now it may well be recency bias, but it is this spirit of re-invention that I really found alive and well in this rather extraordinary and scarily eclectic album by this Swedish collective.
Comprising Axel Sjöberg (Graveyard and Big Kiss) , Lisen Rylander Löve (Midarcondo, Union Carbide Productions and Amason) and Rickard “Bobban” Johansson (Goat and Hills); this is a band whose members have a very diverse hinterland… something which they bring to the fore here in a very effective manner. Indeed, in these days of streaming and playlists, whether you alighted on a track or found it on a playlist, you would get a different idea of what this album was about… hell in some cases even hitting on a different part of a track might give you a completely different impression.
Moving back to the ‘krautrock’ theme this reminds me of such as Can’s ‘Tago Mago’; which really celebrates its diversity. Nowhere is this more the case than on album opener ‘D-Takt I D-Dur (D beat in D major)’ which takes you all over the place in just under three minutes… beginning, you think, as dance number before the drums fly through and you’re almost in pop/ skate territory… then with flourishes of eastern esotericism and jazz moments you realise that you need to stop analysing and just go along with the flow… it’s a crazy opening which immediately puts you into the mood to experience more.
…and an experience is exactly what the second track, kicking in at nearly eleven minutes, is. For sure after the busyness of the opener this really asks you to zone out and chill… this is almost a mediation rather than a song that moves in a welcoming and glacial manner which just seems to persist for the longest time… until it doesn’t, at which point you kind of wish that it still did…
Except that ‘Commodification Blues’ hits you like a bolt from the blue and batters along in its own angry Stooges-style manner… it’s as surprising as it is impactful, pulling you out of your zoned out revery to slap you about the chops and tell you about the evils of capitalism…
After that ‘There is No Origin’ returns to the more downbeat side of things as a really beautiful jazz number… with it’s wonderfully soporific saxophone central to the positive and relaxed atmosphere that it creates, something which is further engendered by ‘Universal Dub (Encounter with Fanon)’ which, as the name suggests, adds a full and authentic dub sound to the proceedings… together these two tracks establish a certain intent despite their diversity… apart from cementing the idea that every track here is very different.
Which brings me to the track that I am premiering here ‘Björkarnas Sus’, which I find to be the most free and experimental number on the album. There is a space and freedom here, and a deceptive looseness than you almost take for granted until you realise how all that fluidity is being kept together by some first rate playing. You also gradually realise that… as the title suggests… there is something of a homage to Björk at the root of this track, as its quirky nature settles on you mind.
Last up is the longest track here, at over a quarter of an hour. ‘La Revail Continue (Melodie Par et Pour Nordholm)’ hits the free jazz button again and sets off in a glorious cacophony of sound which is both exuberant and vigorous… here you get a real sense of the collective just letting rip in a wonderfully invigorating manner… to the extent that the number gradually moves into far more of a rock improvisation without you really realising that it has happened, before dropping back to where it had come from. However, the genre is really moot here, because this is first and foremost a terrific slab of exciting music that you really could listen to for hours without tiring of the chops and changes contained therein as the band move through their paces.
I am used to hearing, and writing about, albums that take you to a lot of different places… but I’m not sure that I remember one that is quite as eclectic at this. Right from the very beginning you are subjected to a quirky sound bordering on eccentric, and while the latter does not persist there is a certain idiosyncratic nature to the journey that the set takes you on… it certainly does not feel linear, and maybe that’s the point as set out in the title… which translates as ‘Music for the Expanding Spirit’… for this is a record that pulls you all over the place, but in the process perhaps broadens the mind and increase the spiritual palette…
‘Musique Pour L’Esprit En Expansion’ is released on Hoga Nord Records on my birthday (which is 29/05/2021)
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