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Harvester - Hemåt CD (album) cover




Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

2.82 | 19 ratings

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5 stars In 1969, International Harvester shortened their name to Harvester and released Hemåt, the second official album of the group originally known as Pärson Sound. It is a natural follow up to Sov Gott Rose-Marie containing a greater focus on the droning and minimal improvisations that characterized the original sound of the band as PS rather on the short and pretty gems of the first half said album. Previously, listeners had only tasted the electric mantric jamming singular to the band in the form of "I Mourn You" ("How to Survive" being a dark acoustic jam).

Given the duration of Harvester's jams and the limitations of the LP medium, we see a problem that is to linger across PS/IH/TGS releases: the trouble of "fitting" long tracks on LPs like it where a puzzle, trying to achieve variety and length in a single LP. To acomplish this, the band had to cut the tracks and add the now classic fade in and out to succesfully include various improvisations in a single LP. As the majority of the pieces in the album feature this blurred beginning and ending, the feeling of eternity permeates the album. Coupled with the fact that the drone is ever present and the mantric repetition is the focus of the album, the result is very ambient and psychedelic sounding music.

As in the previous album, the sound is overall excellent, the bass is mixed in very deep and sounds great along with the drums. The rhythm section alone produces a great deal of heaviness through out the album. The heaviness of the record rivals that of the PS recordings. Previously not found in Sov Gott Rose-Marie are elements like wah-wah in the guitar, more "traditional" rhythms like the boogie, a constant participation of the saxophone and a less restrained sound overall. The vibe and style is very similar to the PS recordings and has much better pacing.

The first half of the album is presented as 2 couples consisting each of a short track and a minimalistic jam. The album opener is a nice and dronig song accompanied by acoustic guitars, falsely setting the tone of the album, one might think it might consist of varied material as in the previous one. It is clear that the track serves a prelude to the album and it fades out to the first minimalist jam. "Kristallen Den Fina" and its drone suddenly fades in and within the minute, its groovy rhythm is accompanied by the classic unconventional chanting of the band members giving it a sort of wonderful Dionysian touch, adding energy to the increasing drone. All band members are present and in full blast creating eventually a thick and heavy texture. As it was the staple since the time of PS, the music features slowly changing features and melodies maitaining the listener bewildered in its sonic landscapes. It is a fantastic track and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

"Kuk-Polska" and "Nepal Boogie" are the next couple. The former being traditional dance music rendered for a rock band format with wind instruments. The result is akin to that of a traditional town band in the middle of a festivity. As Bo Anders has stated in interviews, part of the spirit of the band was to provide organic music to every day life. A kind of true "electric folk music". The track as a result is very danceable and features quirky vocals in pure PS style. "Nepal Boogie" continues the grinding drones and monolithic rhythms with the band at full throttle. The saxophone relentlessly solos and wails over wah wah guitar and goes non-stop heavy until its gradual fade out.

In the original release, the second half of the album placed 3 minimalistic and almost equally long tracks together. The first is "Everybody needs somebody (To love)", a cover song that maintains a steady and groovy pace from start to finish. The vocals are not very discernable and overall the music doesnt reach the heights the previous tracks had though the formula is the same. The music is heavy sounding through out but doesnt really stand out. Bacon Tomorrow is a live track, probably involving some sort of interaction with the audience. It consists of a heavy and upbeat bassline grooving through out the track while ambient noises, clapping, wind instruments, chanting and saxophone interventions mold and change the atmosphere. The track is reminiscent of the PS recordings and is probably the least conventional of the album. Although its recording quality is lacking, it is evident the resulting atmosphere is something Harvester thought highly of and is overall more interesting than the preivous track.

The third track is "Och Solen Går Upp", another minimalist jam featuring crazy vocals that fades in playing the famous "India" motif. The track was edited as the shortest minimalist jam of the record at 4:50 and it builds up pretty quickly to its heavy climax and shortly after fades out and ends the album, sonically its great and follows the same mantric formula, but again does not reach the heights of previous tracks.

Again, the second half of the album could have been better if the title track was in place of the last one or "Everybody needs somebody (To love)". Once again, why such a great track was left as a bonus in place of not so strong ones is perplexing. The title track is the best one in the album. Featuring a singular droning psychedelic groove from the start, beautiful sax lines and excellent wah wah guitar accenting the hypnotic atmosphere, its Harvester sounding at their most fresh, at its most timeless and excentric style. The CD release of Hemåt adds a transition between "Och Solen Går Upp" and the title track consisting of bird singings reminding us of the previous album. The CD version does indeed again aliviate a lack of a convincing close to the album and once again, balances it out, saving it from feeling forever incomplete.

There is no doubt that the LP medium was not intended for this band's music and to fit it, many sacrifices had to be made. The majority of these tracks where evidently much longer and we got only a glimpse of them. Of the original releases, the album is one of the most consistly minimalist and monolithic through out. If Sov Gott Rose-marie showed the enhanced version of the songwriting found in the PS recordings, Hemåt exemplified a cleaner and more focused version of the mantric improvisations.

Being the last album before morphing into a more rock driven format, Hemåt stands as a signpost, evidence of what was and what could have been. A true testament to psychedelic rock. The Pärson Sound, International Harvester and Harvester recordings remain as the most eclectic and timeless albums of this group's history. Even with its few flaws, Hemåt is an astounding release, documenting and offering insight into the unique and psychedelic jams of this incredible group.

south87 | 5/5 |


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