The city is Stockholm.
Through the hallowed halls of the Royal Academy of Music recently admitted student Bo Anders Persson tiptoes to class.
He doesn’t yet know this – of course – but the compositions that he’ll write during the following twelve months are going to cause a sensation in 2014.
This because the always excellent Subliminal Sounds label recently released a double LP called “Love Is Here To Stay” – a collection of Bo Anders’ early works. This because “Love Is Here To Stay” is absolutely amazing. Its seven tracks – all but one previously unreleased – are all suggestive, thought-provoking and profound. Within their doom laden drones, Terry Riley-esque tape loops and expressive wordless vocals one finds both dystopian nightmares and organic beauty.
Chiefly responsible for putting “Love Is Here To Stay” together is guitarist Reine Fiske, well known for his stellar contributions to constellations such as The Amazing, Dungen, Landberk, Motorpsycho and Elephant9. Reine has laboured on “Love Is Here to Stay” for quite some time – there is a mention of it in issue number 15 (January 2003) of the Swedish fanzine The Broken Face, for instance – but his love for Bo Anders’ music has never once faltered.
“I still find it almost physically exhausting to listen to some tracks on ‘Love Is Here To Stay’,” Reine praises via e-mail. “Bo Anders’ music carries with it a very wondrous power, a power that I haven’t heard elsewhere. Bo Anders has a very prominent and special place in my musical heart and he’s one of the main visionaries of this era. The blessing of working on ‘Love Is Here To Stay’ slowed the whole process down.”
Ever modest, Bo Anders has shied away from the creation of “Love Is Here To Stay.”
“I’ve decided that it’s Reine’s thing”, he says over the telephone from his home in Likenäs. “And then it shall be so.”
“Love Is Here To Stay” is not the first box compilation of Bo Anders related material that Reine Fiske has been involved in. Thirteen years ago he completed “Pärson Sound”, a double CD that introduced the godlike genius of Pärson Sound to the world.
“I had this idea that I wanted to create some improvisatory music, noise music in this little room that the Royal College of Music let me borrow,” Bo Anders remembers. “So I got a little group together.”
This little group – Torbjörn Abelli (bass), Arne Ericsson (electric cello), Urban Yman (electric violin) and Bo Anders on guitar and tape loops – was the first version of Pärson Sound.
“Pärson Sound started to consume all my energy”, Bo Anders continues. “And I got involved in politics. So I dropped out of the Royal College of Music. I was a very bad student, I kind of regret that. They arranged some very interesting composition seminars; György Ligeti and Karlheinz Stockhausen came over and gave talks. I should’ve paid more attention.”
The first official gig that Pärson Sound played was at the experimental theatre Pistolteatern, on the 29th of April, 1967. Not all audience members made it through to its very end – in fact a few didn’t even last half a song – but those who did got to experience something truly radical: music that almost magically combined Terry Riley’s minimalism with The Rolling Stones’ groovy rawness and the defiant spirit of Swedish folk. Music that rocked both your heart and your brain. Universal, sensual, transcendent, danceable music.
Never before had Sweden heard such home-grown sounds, melodies and rhythms.
Between 1966 and 1967 the first fledgling, then outstanding Pink Floyd were something of a house band for London’s underground. For Stockholm it was Pärson Sound that fulfilled this role. After the Pistolteatern show they picked up lots of other engagements – at Filips, at Moderna Museet, at 7 Sekel… wherever the left-wing intelligentsia would meet – and along the way they also picked up two new members; former Mecki Mark Men drummer Thomas Mera Gartz and man about town/Renaissance man Thomas Tidholm. In August 1968 they changed their name to International Harvester, after the eponymous American agricultural machinery manufacturer.
During their short heyday no records under the name Pärson Sound saw the light, but International Harvester released one – the altogether excellent “Sov Gott Rose-Marie” (Love Records, 1968). Finally the public at large – or at least the tuned in radicals – could lay their hands on an artefact partially cultivated by Bo Anders.
More were to follow, though. International Harvester became Harvester in 1969 and finalized the sweet LP “Hemåt.” Thomas Tidholm and Urban Yman then left to pursue other interests and another name change – this time to Träd, Gräs Och Stenar – was in order.
Another new beginning.
Nevertheless all these groups have, despite their different names and denominations, a certain sonic similarity.
“If there had been a modern nature religion in which one invoked nature, our music would be that religion’s music,” Bo Anders states.
On June 7, 2008 Bo Anders played his final show with Träd, Gräs Och Stenar.
“I was somewhat sad when I walked off the stage that evening,” he says. “But mostly I was relieved to not have to travel that much anymore. Airports are the antithesis of everything I want to be a part of.”
About a year after this farewell Subliminal Sounds put out ”Hemlösa Katter – Homeless Cats,” Träd, Gräs Och Stenar’s approximately sixth album. Its booklet states that it’s the last Träd, Gräs Och Stenar record to feature Bo Anders’ guitar playing, however due to the tragic passing of Torbjörn Abelli (10/2, 1945 – 11/8, 2010) and Thomas Mera Gartz (4/4, 1944 – 29/4, 2012) it’ll probably also be the last Träd, Gräs Och Stenar album ever.
But their legacy lives on.
Just two years ago Newcastle Upon Tyne’s prodigal stoner rock collective Bong finalized the wonderful CD “Mana-Yood-Sushai,” which second track (of two) was titled “Trees, Grass And Stones.” West coast psych-rockers Wooden Shjips added the extra “j” to their name as a tribute to Träd, Gräs Och Stenar. And in Sweden the mighty Hills – and to a lesser extent Goat – are carrying the Träd, Gräs Och Stenar torch.
To name but three examples.
Then there are the reissues and the archival releases, proof that the record buying public cannot get enough of either Träd, Gräs Och Stenar or their predecessors. Both “Sov Gott Rose-Marie” and “Hemåt” saw the light as CDs on the now defunct Silence label in 2001. Five years earlier Subliminal Sounds realized the CD “Gärdet 12.3.1970,” an amazing artefact that captures an unrelenting Träd, Gräs Och Stenar live at the illegal Festen på Gärdet festival. The “Love Is Here To Stay” and “Pärson Sound” box sets are – as mentioned – must haves. Even the rather obscure but altogether fabulous LP “Reportage: Spela Själv” (Expo Norr, 1970) – a by Bo Anders compiled compilation of anonymous Swedish amateur musicians playing their hearts out – has been lovingly reproduced, albeit in bootleg form.
“There is a possibility that ‘Love Is Here To Stay’ will get a follow up in the future, as well,” Reine Fiske reveals. “Because there is more material. Furthermore [Swedish authour and ex-Solen Skiner drummer] Håkan Agnsäter has begun writing a book about Pärson Sound/International Harvester/Träd, Gräs Och Stenar and the time they lived in.”
Bo Anders himself doesn’t spend much time pondering his contributions to the world of art.
“Some people have said that they’ve been influenced by something that I’ve done,” he hesitates. “Maybe some people think of the music that I’ve been involved in as a special room that they feel at home in. But I don’t know.”
In the vegetable garden outside his old wooden house, Bo Anders grows carrots, potatoes, onions, pumpkins, tomatoes, chilli, garlic… Here he feels at home; he’s been an organic farmer and an environmentalist since the late sixties, and his love of nature knows no bounds.
Despite some stiffness in his joints from age (he’ll be 77 come October 2nd), toiling the soil and repairing the house (“I’ve spent the last year isolating the place with hemp, if you can believe that,” he laughs), Bo Anders still finds time for music.
“I play some piano and some folk music on my violin and I fiddle around on the computer,” he says. “There are some Syrian refugees living in an accommodation near my house and the other day I played for them. It went okay, they seemed to appreciate it. A few young children came up to me afterwards and wanted to touch my violin and I felt ‘I don’t want to stop playing now’.”
Ursprungligen publicerad i Shindig! #38, 2014