Thursday, June 1, 2017

Spjärnsvallet - Again and Again [1975, 2014-15] Sweden

A gift. I'm not sure how many remember Spjärnsvallet but this "comeback" took me by surprise. Actually it's nothing more but outtakes from their 1975 self-titled album, plus a newly recorded track. The album is dedicated to the late Kjell Westling, a distinguished multi-instrumentalist known to have participated in many seminal Swedish prog bands. 

In fact the quartet is a who's who of the 60s/70s Swedish prog, rock, psych and freak folk scene: Archimedes Badkar, Träd Gräs och Stenar, Blå Tåget, Harvester, Vargavinter, Thomas och Turid, Marie Selander, Pärson Sound, Nynningen and Nationalteatern among others. Some of those sound explicitly daring to this day. That background is prevalent throughout Spjärnsvallet's music. Add to that, Bengt Berger's and Christer Bothén's itch to travel to Ghana and India (the former) and Mali and Morocco (the latter) with the purpose to expand their musical vocabulary.

Again & Again is for those like me who think that the eponymous is just too short. It is well introverted and you can notice the balkan, south indian or north & west african traditions with great transparency. Still, there are discrete improvisational, compositional as well as overlapping moments just like on the debut. Does it differ from the original 1975 statement though? I believe it does. 

The closing track, Again, is the only absolutely new piece here, recorded in 2014 by the 3 surviving members of the group. I like to imagine it as the closing statement of an era, an elegy dedicated to the late Kjell Westling. It showcases the ability of the trio to continue breathing as a single organism. Just like before. I really couldn't think of a better fitting conclusion. The word spjärnsvallet, the way I understand it, stands for the cascade that we will set off should we support each other. Brilliant.

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