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Älgarnas Trädgård - Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden CD (album) cover


Älgarnas Trädgård


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.92 | 102 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars It doesn't require much hindsight to understand why this obscure Swedish outfit never attracted anything more than a cult audience. Ignore the fact that they released only one album, with an impenetrable title (in whatever language you translate it), and that it likely wasn't heard too often outside Scandinavia. The music must have been a major hurdle all by itself, even in the more adventurous climate of the early 1970s. And today it remains stubbornly oblique, in an arcane sort of way.

The immediate reaction after my own belated exposure (forty years late, but who's counting?) was one of déjà vu. Here was yet another Saucerful of the same Floydian Secrets that had fostered a trail of stepchildren across the darker corners of Continental Europe in the early '70s.

But the Älgarnas gang took that familiar Space Rock recipe and added a few local spices, including a rich vein of ancient folk music; lots of neo-pagan psychedelia; some enigmatic jamming not far removed from classic Krautrock; and a vivid atmosphere of Nordic mystery, rolling eastward over the Baltic Sea toward the Ural Mountains and beyond. Maybe it's the heavy tolling bells, or the hand drums and zithers, but to me the music evokes something the great Russian icon painter Andrei Rublev might have been jiving to as he fled the Tartar hordes in the 15th century.

And yet the album looks forward as well, with the calm dispassion of a counterculture Janus. The live bonus tracks on the 1995 CD reissue exhibit an almost Post Rock intensity, years ahead of their time. Like most of the album proper the additional music is entirely instrumental, but it wouldn't be hard to imagine someone like Ian Curtis improvising manic- depressive lyrics on top. (Japanese imports add a further concert sample: the playful and archaic "Medeltidsinto På Gärdet", complete with novelty toy cow lowing.)

If the band had formed a few hundred kilometers south, in late '60s Germany, they might be a household name by now (at least in smarter neighborhoods populated by discriminating Krautrockers). But that same cultural isolation is a part of what makes their one album so unique. Älgarnas Trädgård appeared to exist in its own private, wintry universe, and the general lack of traditional rock 'n' roll dynamics helped give the music a dreamy, drifting quality, casting an uncertain spell that hasn't weakened over the four-plus decades since it was first created.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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