|Tom Hayes||28-Aug-2007||Berits Halsband|
It is often said that obscure records are obscure for a reason. But in my almost 30 years of collecting, I find that rare albums have about the same distribution of greatness as do their more readily available counterparts. So amongst the majority of turkeys, a few gems can be found. And since the known albums are just that, known, it is quite a thrill when a total UNknown shows up and knocks your socks clear across the room. Obvious foreshadowing aside, Berits Halsband has to rank as one of my all-time greatest surprises based on my first listen a few years ago.
In the mid 1970s, Sweden was harboring a handful of jazz bands looking to push the envelope beyond the usual bebop standards or electric noodling. These groups were more than just a little influenced by the freaky fusion of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Collectives like Ibis, Ablution, Egba, Kornet, and Archimedes Badkar were bringing that type of creativity up to the far North. And you have to figure those long, dark winters play a role in creating hallucinations even amongst the most puritan Lutherans wandering about in their show shoes.
Where Berits Halsband makes their distinctive mark, is
the reach-over to the indigenous Scandinavian folklore
of the local dancehall. However, the music is not
dished up through the Zappa blender ala Samla Mammas
Manna, but more of an introspective art school
approach. As with other large scale ensembles, the
seven piece Berits Halsband makes full use of its
membership. For example one of the major separation
points compared to others of its ilk, is the prominent
use of trumpet, often filtered through a wah wah
pedal. Their second lead instrument of choice is the
lovely flute, often in unison with the trumpet or as a
peaceful solo alternative. And while Side 1 sounds
like the best soundtrack to your dream Stockholm
vacation, side 2 takes us to the Arctic for some
serious deep grooving. And here we get some added ring
modulated electric piano combined with amazing fuzz
guitar soloing, all on top of the trance like bass and
active percussion. While the ingredients are familiar,
the end result is entirely unique. A strange bedfellow
meeting of late electric era Miles circa “Agharta”,
combined with the Swedish ethnic rock of Kebnekaise
and the psychedelic pyrotechnics of Flasket Brinner.
Yea, it’s that good. Unfortunately, as of this
writing, no reissue CD exists.
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