About 16 or 17 years ago I came across a review of an obscure Swedish psychedelic band that was compelling. Pärson Sound conjured up visions of free form mind melting workouts, Sonic Youth inspired punk jams, and something fresh. The double disc anthology dd not disappoint. I eagerly hunted down later incarnations of the band – all under different names. International Harvester, Harvester, and finally, Träd Gräs och Stenar. Translation: Trees, Grass, and Stone. Throughout the various phases of the band a common theme can be seen. Communal spirit, restless experimentation, jams that flirt with punk, and the sense that there is nothing else like this in the world – past, present, or future. It is one of those bands that I eagerly tell people about – especially if they have an adventurous spirit. Sometime in the mid 70’s, the band splintered apart – some members devoted themselves to organic farming. Reuniting on occasion to jam, the band officially reunited in the late 90’s and released the albums Ajn Schvajn Draj in 2002 and Homeless Cats in 2009. Then, tragedy struck the band.
Founding member & bassist Torbjörn Abelli passed away due to Lyme disease in 2010. Founding member Bo Anders Persson retired to (re) devote himself to organic farming. The band carried on with shows & recordings when founding member & drummer Thomas Mera Gartz suddenly passed away. Undeterred, the band soldiered on. 2017 finds the band led by the only remaining member with ties to the 70’s version of the band, Jakob Sjöholm. Tack För Kaffet (So Long) is the band’s 1st studio album in 8 years and features all members, past and present. Translated, the title means “Thanks for the coffee, so long”. It serves as a gateway to the past and a signpost to the future. It is hard to tell where the old ends and the new begins – which is an incredible compliment to newer members Hanna Östergren, Sigge Krantz, Reine Fiske, and Nisse Törnqvist. There are less vocals on this latest album – instead, it is a meditation on change, life, death, and the passage of time. It is quite simply, perfect.
E-Moll Slow opens the album with a 20 minute emotional dirge. Plodding, repetitive bass along with intricate guitar lines hold this down. Life is a journey, not a destination, right? As it is with this song. Sorgmarschen (March of Grief) follows and takes the album down an even more emotional path. Guitar lines faintly remind me of 70’s Pink Floyd. This song IS grief, encapsulated. The band really lets it rip halfway through, reminding me a bit of Sonic Youth. Distortion, emotive playing, propulsive yet restrained percussion. Overwhelmingly majestic. Halvvägs (Halfway) is a respite from some of the heaviness, at the halfway point of the record. Emotional, yet not shrouded in grief. Pengar (Money) is an all out garage rocker featuring shouted vocals, blistering guitar solos, and a motorik backbeat. Farväl (Farewell) serves as a fitting send off for the band as we know them. Slowing the tempo way down, tapping into the listeners emotions, and demonstrating an almost jazz flair to the intricate guitar work. Simply stunning.
The album is available from all digital retailers and on vinyl at select retailers. What’s next for the band? The band is recording a new album as Trees. An homage to the past. A way forward. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Verdict: Celebration of Life
For Fans of: Bardo Pond, Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground, Terry Riley, Swell Maps
- E-moll Slow
- Sorgmarschen (March of Grief)
- Högtryck Över Svealand (High Pressure Over Svealand)
- Halvvägs (Halfway)
- Kaffe Med Tårta (Coffee And Cake)
- Pengar (Money)
- Farväl (Farewell)