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International Harvester: Sov Gott Rose-Marie (1969)

The first thing I reviewed here was Älgarnas Trädgård's Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, which is a truly wonderful example of what the Swedish underground psychedelic/experimental scene had gave us in the late '60s and early '70s. Another band worth looking in to is International Harvester. This band was the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Bo Anders Persson. He was previously in a group called Pärson Sound, whose material had only surface recently, and later on (after International Harvester, and after he shortened the named to just Harvester, he was heading Träd, Gräs och Stenar).

In 1967, highly esteemed California minimalist composer Terry Riley payed a visit to Sweden, which apparently Bo Anders Persson was really fascinated by. He then dissolved Pärson Sound and assembled International Harvester, which included him on vocals and guitar, Thomas Gartz on drums, Thomas Tidholm on horns and vocals, Torbjörn Abelli on bass, Arne Eriksson on cello, and Urban Yman on fiddle. Persson wanted to persue the minimalist concept in a rock setting, by playing rock instruments, in a psychedelic setting.

In 1968, they recorded Sov Gott Rose-Marie, and then they were looking for a record comany to release it. They had to look to neighboring Finland to get it released, and it was released on that country's Love Records (a label best known for giving us acts like Wigwam, Jukka Gustavson, Pekka Pohjola, Jukka Tolonen, Tabula Rasa, Tasavalan Presidenti, Finnforest, etc.) in the spring of 1969. The album starts off with "Dies Irae", which is basically a loud, sinister sounding horn, which then segues in to "I Villande Skogen", which basically a gentle sound of a crowd singing, apparently a traditional song. "There is No Other Place" reminds me of a more garage-y version of Syd Barret-lead Pink Floyd. What I mean by that is rather minimalist sounding guitars, no keyboards, and vocals that obviously remind me of Barret. "The Runcorn Report of Western Progress" is a really pleasant, laid-back piece, complete with environmental sounds in the background. I am reminded a bit of Can's Future Days, except for one major difference: it predates that album by over four years (where even Can's Monster Movie had yet to be recorded and released!).

There's a couple of short interludes, like "Statsminister", which the band sings a very short folky song in Swedish (which seems to be funny, but I can't understand what they're singing). Then there's "Ho Chi Minh", which consists of percussion, and voices repeatedly chanting "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh" over and over again.

And speaking of communist leaders, the band was known to perform with a picture of Chairman Mao on stage (with other figures, non-communist, like Sitting Bull, and others I couldn't recognize, since it was only a picture of the band performing that was included on the CD reissue I have). "It's Only Love" is another pleasant laid-back psychedelic number, where they repeatedly sing "It's Only Love" over and over. "Klockan Är Mycket Nu" is another piece with repeated chanting, with that garage-y psychedelic feel, and lots of bizarre electronic effects in the background. "Ut Till Vänster" is a short piece played on sax, which seems to have a Nordic feel to it. "Sommarlåten" is a wonderful instrumental psychedelic piece dominated by guitar. I can't help but be reminded of Bo Hansson, but without keyboards. The title track has a rather somber feel to it, with a gloomy voice singing in Swedish.

These 11 pieces constitute side one only. Side two, on the other hand, contains two extended exercises in psychedelic rock minimalism, that is "I Mourn You" and "How to Survive". It's no doubt that "I Mourn You" is the more rock-oriented of the two, while "How to Survive" sounds more like pure minimalism. Actually it sounds more like Indian raga, without the sitar, but with cello in place. There's also plenty of percussion as well. Great hypnotic piece to close the album out.

The great news it had been reissued! First Silence Records in Sweden reissued this on LP in 1984, and then once again in 2001 on CD. The CD comes with an extended bonus cut called "Skördetider" which was from the Sov Got Rose-Marie sessions, but the band decided to thrown in "I Mourn You" and "How to Survive" instead. Which is good as well, as interesting as "Skördetider" is (especially the repeated trippy flutes), it sounds more like something a band might perform live than in the studio. This is truly a unique album thats way overlooked, and if you're looking from some unique psychedelia, you should get a copy of this album.

Added: November 16th 2003
Reviewer: Ben Miler | See all reviews by Ben Miler
Category: Music
Location: Sweden

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