With a fairly extensive record collection like mine, listening to music is nowadays more or less turning into a game of association. Something gets you going and connects to other stuff in a chain of thought sometimes not easily understood but always with some logic to it. After previous weeks of listening to Swedish classics as Ebba Grön, Imperiet and Thåström, the leap to Garbochock isn´t a big one.
While not a very well-known group this is still one of the most artistically accomplished and exciting acts in all of Swedish musical history. Formed in Malmö 1979 by frontman Stry Terrarie, from the remains of earlier band Besökarna, the short-lived group only released one album and a single before disbanding. These two releases however stands the test of time as amongst the best and most original rock records ever made in Sweden, or anywhere else for that matter. Peerless while they were active and peerless now.
Debut album “Ritual”, released on vinyl in 1980, is one of my all time desert island favourites and timeless in its brilliance. The 35 years gone since its appearance has not diminished the visceral power of this collection of songs. Although Anna Gustavsson´s organ made some draw parallells to The Doors, this music is distinctively original and not really comparable to anything else. Stry´s idiosynchratic singing combined with the guitar genius of Mikael Westergren and sweeping organ figures blends into a totally unique whole. This record sounded like the music of the future when it was released and strangely enough still does.
This is one of those rare records where every track is a classic contributing to the overall feel of the album. From the aggression of “Malmö City” to the sweeping synth landscapes of “Fusion 1999”. The songwriting of Stry Terrarie is absolutely flawless and creatively in a league of its own. Nobody was really doing anything like this at the time. The guitar playing of Mikael Westergren also deserves special mention. Without ever reaching any fame to speak of this is one of the most innovative guitarists of all time. Just listen to his work on previously mentioned “Malmö City”, as well as the brilliant solos on “Ritual” and “Repulsiv”.
After releasing a single with a slightly poppier sound, “Invasion” (1980), the band split up, members going into different new bands. Stry to Ebba Grön and Imperiet, before forming Babylon Blues together with Mikael Westergren in 1984. Westergren and drummer Bengt Liljegren serving a stint in legendary band Underjordiska Lyxorkestern 1981- 82. All of them groups either previously mentioned on this blog or deserving to be so in the future. Swedish rock music was never as exciting as during those years.
The vinyl version of “Ritual” has been unavailable from the record company for many years, but can be found second hand on the internet. A CD-version including two extra tracks was released in 2001, now also seemingly hard to get. The good news is that it´s available on Spotify. So, there´s no excuse. Switch on your laptop, iPad or smartphone and listen. Prepare to be blown away.