Monday, July 28, 2008

Pregnant Rainbows For Colourblind Dreamers ~ The Essence Of Swedish Progressive Music 1967 – 1979

Over the last few years there has been a plethora of exceptional progressive rock artists emanating from Sweden. Just take the following list as examples of some of the best I have come across: Carptree, Paatos, Magic Pie, Sinkadus, Beardfish, Ritual, Moon Safari, Liquid Scarlet, Brighteye Brison, Par Lindh Project. The seed which allowed these bands to proliferate was generated in the 90’s by the likes of The Flower Kings, Anglagard, Anekdoten and Landberk. But it seems the Swedish progressive rock scene has its roots much farther back than that, as evidenced by this fantastic box set. This set has been produced as a listening companion to the equally impressive book; The Encyclopedia of Swedish Progressive Music 1967 – 1979. That book is a gloriously colourful and exhaustive overview of the Swedish progressive rock movement. A hardback volume of some 230 pages all in full colour. Over 400 artists are overviewed, with album covers re-produced together with photographs of the period. This is a highly informative and sumptuous read without a doubt.

The music scene in Sweden was obviously highly productive and inventive as the 70 artists represented in the 4 CD box set indicate. It’s quite extraordinary the majority of artists on show here are completely unknown, except to those few who are true connoisseurs of early 70’s Swedish prog rock. It’s also beguiling that those artist’s music has never been made generally available on CD before.

So this box set is the only place to really appreciate what gems have been long forgotten. Some names will be familiar like Kaipa, Bo Hansson, Samla Mammas Manna and Trettioåriga Kriget but its coming across the likes of Solar Plexus, Baby Grandmothers and Life that’s the real joy of this compilation. There is also a 48 page booklet, presented in a similar fashion to the book which gives overviews of each of the artists presented.

The book and box set are obviously labours of love by the authors and the attention to detail has to be admired. Both have to be purchased together and really highlight what a fantastic music scene existed in Sweden in a time when all eyes were looking at Britain’s burgeoning progressive rock scene. It seems there was a lot going on up North. Now, if only someone would do something similarly comprehensive for the Italian progressive rock scene of the 70’s!


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