Tag Archives: Stry Terrarie

…2015 w 06 – Album of the week is “Ritual” by Garbochock.

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.

GarbochockWhile 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.

GarbochockDebut 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.

 

…2015 w 04 – Album of the week is “Silver, guld och misär” by Imperiet.

silver guld och misär Last week´s return to the late 70´s/early 80´s Swedish music scene, by way of seminal punk band Ebba Grön, naturally leads to this 6 disc collection of perhaps even more influential group Imperiet. Active from 1983 – 88, Imperiet proved to be a very important force of Swedish rock music that has hardly been surpassed since. Formed around the nucleus of Ebba Grön frontman Joakim Thåström with some of the other members of that band, they begun their career by releasing a series of hard-hitting singles creating quite a stir in the national rock community. The dual songwriting team of Thåström and Stry Terrarie ensured high quality songs and eclectic performances, unlike anything previously seen. Exhibiting both relentless energy and a certain degree of sophistication these songs created a niche of their own in the contemporary musical climate. At the time it felt easy to see a way forward for this group of excellent musicians.

Imperiet mini LPImperiet RaseraAlthough much anticipated, debut album “Rasera” (1983) largely failed to impress, mostly because of lack of direction and partially weak songwriting. While left wanting in many ways it still showed promise that bloomed on six track mini-LP “Imperiet” (1984). (Short comment for the download generation, a mini-LP is a 12” vinyl record with about 5 or 6 songs as opposed to the usual 10 of a regular LP). Containing several of their best numbers, the influence of soon-to-quit member Stry Terrarie was obvious. His departure wasn´t that much of a surprise, since very few bands can accomodate two such notable songwriters. This mini-LP is undoubtedly something of the best they ever did.

Imperiet blå himlen bluesAfter some personnel changes the group finally found its form and released their most successful album “Blå himlen blues” (1985). Showcasing Thåström as a songwriter of note, as well as a tight band immersed both in rock ´n´ roll and contemporary dance music (much thanks to fantastic and now sadly deceased bass player Christian Falk). This period was in many ways a creative peak for the band, giving rise to several of their most popular and enduring songs. I fondly remember some of the live shows from the tour following this album. Sweaty, ecstatic concerts by a muscular band with total control of their audience. Following this release several years were squandered trying to break the band internationally through an album of old songs with English lyrics. Despite a lot of work not that much happened.

Imperiet SyndFourth release “Synd” (1986) showed further development both musically and lyrically. Perhaps a bit too sophisticated for the times, it was still a great album with a few of their best songs. More reflective in mood and dropping some of the earlier rock ´n´ roll bombast for a more mature sound. Lyrically more intricate than anything that had previously left Thåström´s pen, this was a departure into rock as art and a band quietly reaching its summit. With several career highlights this album competes with “Blå himlen blues” as their best one. By force of sheer quality this is a record that helps to define the legacy of this great band in Swedish rock history. Innovative music combined with poetic lyrics in Swedish. One of the bands managing to use their native tongue to create a place for themselves in contemporary culture.

Imperiet Tiggarens TalSwansong album “Tiggarens tal” (1988) continued in a similar vein but with partly inferior material. While containing a few great songs the record lacked the cohesion and energy of earlier works. The feeling was of a band without direction going through the motions while seeing the end looming large before them. Experimental numbers like “Party” coexisted with Kurt Weil covers “Kanonsång”, along with classic Imperiet numbers as “Jag är en idiot”, “…som eld”, “Kung av jidder” and “…när vodkan gjort oss vackra”. All in all a record bookending the career of one of the most intriguing and accomplished Swedish rock bands of all time. Finishing their output with a series of songs both heartfelt and banal, Imperiet closed down on a note severly serious as well as intrinsically lightweight.