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Älgarnas Trädgård - Delayed CD (album) cover


Älgarnas Trädgård


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.93 | 61 ratings

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4 stars Collectors of arcane ethno-prog esoterica will remember the first (and, for a long time, only) album by Älgarnas Trädgård as a haunting mood piece: Space Rock without the Rock, and closely tied to older, more terrestrial pagan art traditions. The sudden appearance of a second album in 2001, almost three decades after the master tapes were mothballed and the original group disbanded, must have come as a complete surprise, not least for the new album's 180-degree reverse in style toward a more accessible psych-rock style.

It's hard to even credit the same musicians for both efforts, the difference is so startling. The later album is more immediately appealing (because it actually rocks, and hard), but the music lacks the unique, supernatural eeriness of the band's uncanny debut. Too many other likeminded off-planet explorers, most of them located south of the Baltic Sea in Krautrock Germany, had already staked out similar cosmic rock territory. But the Scandinavians brought their own flavors to the table, laced with a generous dash of the same Indian seasonings common in northern Europe at the time: sitars, tablas and such.

The atmospheric electric violin suggests a familiarity with the spacier ragas of early Amon Düül II, circa "Yeti". And the quotation from Gustav Holst ("Mars, the Bringer of War", of course) links the band to the more earthbound symphonic rock trends of the 1970s. Only on the last few tracks is the band's original magic restored, in particular during the ghostly finale of "My Childhood Trees", a shifting seven-minute aurora of ancient Nordic mystery, with a spectral voice from somewhere above the Arctic Circle drifting into the album's long, repetitive fade-out.

The production is a little rough around the edges, sounding not unlike an impromptu live-in-the-studio recording. But the unpolished vitality of the playing compensates for any lack of refinement, to a point where the album appears almost implausibly fresh today (and thus would have been ahead of its time in 1974). Even after 27-years in limbo, there's enough residual enchantment here to bump my otherwise conservative evaluation up a notch, and send a belated shiver of psychedelic excitement down a sympathetic spine.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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