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Bo Hansson - Ur Trollkarlens Hatt [Aka: Magician's Hat] CD (album) cover


Bo Hansson

Symphonic Prog

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By the time Bo Hansson's debut in 1970 'Sagan om Ringen' (Lord of the Rings) had been released internationally and was receiving widespread praise in '72, he had already completed work on his second, the more diverse and less funeralistic 'Ur Trollkarlens Hatt' (The Magician's Hat). Retaining the services of Rune Carlsson (congas), Gunnar Bergsten (sax) and Sten Bergman (flute) from the Rings sessions as well as Owe Gustavsson (bass), Bobo Stensson (piano), Pelle Ekman (drums) and Kenny Hakansson (guitar), Hansson took the initiative, turned up the steam, and recorded a fine follow-up to his classic debut.

Evoking a fantasy landscape of mystery and dreamy fascination, Hansson's approach is one of careful thought to composition and atmosphere with unhurried expansion and a soft touch. Here Hansson extends his brand of earthy, pulsing rhythms that take from Eastern European, classical, jazz, folk and Latin, laying down grooves and vamps overwhich other instruments are layered, all led by a warm backdrop of organ. The 12-minute 'Storstad' draws us in with constant shifts between wild gypsy dances, acid waltzes, calliopes, sambas, Latin jazz and trippy ballroom psychedelia. A Spanish guitar boleros through 'Delad Verklighet' featuring some tasteful synthesizer fills and a lovely flute opens 'Elidor/Fore Regnet/Fylke', occassionally reminding of Pink Floyd at their most sundrenched and hallucinogenic. 'Sluttningar', 'Findhorns Sang' and 'Uppvaknande' get back on theme with more grinding organ and undulating swells of rhythm. 'Solen' jazzes us to the conclusion with an infectious beat and some nice electric piano. As these recordings can lean toward muddy, the 2002 remaster is recommended and has superb photos and Swedish notes.

Dated? Sure. Naive? Maybe a little. Beautiful and important progressive rock? You better believe it. A miserly three stars for a record that probably deserves four.

Report this review (#125735)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Bo Hansson's follow-up to his very successful "Lord Of The Rings" album is a more dynamic affair with more variety but the magic is gone. I blame the Hobbits but I have no proof. This is very much a hit and miss affair for me. Bo has added a guitarist which was wise, and some guests help out on what for me is the best track by far "The Sun (Parallel Or 90)". And yes that's the song that Andy Tillison took his band's name (PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES) from.

"Big City" is the 11 1/2 minute epic track to start things. It opens with a relaxed beat as sax joins in. It picks up with guitar as the tempo continues to shift. A calm with vocal melodies 3 minutes in then this light soundscape takes over. It gets better 5 1/2 minutes in as percussion and sax lead.The guitar takes the lead before 10 minutes. Some prominant bass too. "Elidor" is mostly flute and drum led. "Before The Rain" is led by flute again but we get some sax standing out too. Flute takes over early on "Fylke" as well. "Playing Downhill Into The Downs" is fuller sounding. These last four tracks are all under 2 minutes each.

"Findhorn's Song" is just over a minute but the best of the previous short tracks with the organ floating in the background. Great sound. "Awakening" is pastoral but it sounds much better everytime it picks up. "Wandering Song" has a beat with organ and guitar. "The Sun (Parallel Or 90)" has this amazing rhythm with keyboards that's so simple but I just don't want it to end. It's my favourite track by far. "Excursion With Complications" is led by sax, keyboards and drums. Not a fan of this at all. "Divided Reality" has organ,drums and flute coming and going after the strummed guitar intro.

A good album but I miss the mood and atmosphere of the debut.

Report this review (#280689)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Bo Hansson - Magician's Hat (1972)

Bo Hansson is a Swedish keyboard player/composer who made a lot of instrumental music during the seventies. His music is distinctive and recognizable, relaxing and slightly symphonic.

Hansson his music is perhaps best described as the anti-catchy, anti-climatic and directionless little brother of 'Mirage' era Camel. The music is mostly atmospheric with laid back musicianship (yet professional) and endless long notes. I especially invented the word anti-catchy for Hansson, because I want to point out that he is capable of writing many themes, but none of ever leave something behind. You can listen to this record without remembering a single melody. The music sounds passive, but it's atmospheric approach would make it suitable for sound-tracks. I perceive this album as an endless musical ride in which Hansson doesn't seem to go anywhere and compositions rarely evolve into a meaningful whole.

Now, this has been a rather negative review, but I must say; the record does have a soothing, almost folky effect. The atmospheres keep on coming and there aren't any unpleasant moments on this record. Furthermore, the link between cover-art and music is good.

Conclusion. A simplistic, yet soothing symphonic prog record that lacks meaningful compositions but does have a lot of atmospheric tracks. I can only recommend this to fans of Hansson distinctive approach. Two stars.

Report this review (#439982)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Bo Hansson's second album, despite the title, moves away from the mystic, fantastic realms explored on his Lord of the Rings album in favour of moving into fusion territory, as well as giving more of a platform for his guitar playing. It's all quite competently done, but at the same time I feel that it ends up feeling a bit emotionless and generic, the loss of the Lord of the Rings concept leading to a situation where Hansson shows off his technical abilities without a strong concept or theme to structure them around. Perhaps this explains why the final track has such a strange ending - the album just seems to stop as opposed to coming to a natural conclusion.
Report this review (#502721)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An excellent follow up to the Lord Of The Rings, Magician's Hat showed off Hansson's prowess in great guitar work, slide bass and just general composition and strength of the work. Magician's Hat is different to it's predecessor but equally as good. Listen out for songs like ' Divided reality', ' Awakening' and the epic slow jam of ' The Sun parallel or 90 degrees)'. The cover work again was a great plus on all Bo Hansson's releases too. There is a definite mysticism to all Hansson's works, maybe it is the Scandinavian air, who knows but the purity of his sound has not dated even all these years later.Magician's Hat gets a worthy 4 stars.
Report this review (#502756)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Bosse Hansson's second studio record from 1972 exhibits a fairytale in major and minor. He continues where he finished on "Sagan om ringen" with a lot of inspiration from Tolkien's Lord of the rings. Perhaps it's my wishfull thinking but I think the composers of the Tolkien Trilogy films got some inspiration from Bo Hansson's music. On this record from Silence(4615) many men from Kebnekaise are involved and I think it is worth naming here Kenny Håkansson who plays guitar and Sten Bergman who plays flute. They (and the others) give the music a mellow taste of groovy rock music. But off course, the big name here is Bo Hansson who's creative organ playing began in "Hansson & Karlsson" and concludes her with this progressive rock.

What I think is important for me it to distinguish the different instrument and this music is clear enough for that. The first track "Storstad" is odd according to the others. It's long and has a choir that shouts "Skynda" (hurry!) and "se upp!" (watch out!). After "Delad verklighet" follows a row of short fantasy inspired track with mystical organ, beautiful flute and great bass. In some track there is a fine melancholy and everyone has a clear melody. "Elidor" changes between minor and major in anice way. "Findhorns sång" for exampel feels very historical and is super great. "Vandringslåt"is a concluding marching tune which ends in a mor poppy, rock'n'roll style. This record also has something for those who like psychedelic music: "Solen(Parallellt eller 90 grader)" is build up by a feeling more than a melody and shows extraordinary good guitar work(Kenny Håkansson).

This is honest and well produced material that also is nostalgic, you can feel the seventies here but the music also gives great stuff to be inspired by, now in the 10s. My favourite track is "Elidor" and the worst one is "Fylke", but, the worst one is almost as good as the best one.

Report this review (#948784)
Posted Wednesday, April 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The recordings of ''Sagan om ringen'' left Hansson with plenty of leftover material, on which he worked shortly after the release of his debut.The first album (as ''Music inspired By Lord of the Rings'') climbed to the No.34 of the UK Album Charts and Hansson was determined to continue this success.Teaming up with the core of his debut (Rune Carlsson on drums, Sten Bergman on flute, Gunnar Bergsten on sax) and with the help of Kenny Håkansson from Kebnekaise on guitars, he released his sophomore work ''Ur trollkarlens hatt'' in 1972 on Silence Records.Under the title ''Magician's hat'' the album was released also in U.K. through Charisma in October 73'.

Unfortunately Hansson seem to take a step backwards with this release, without further developing the dreamy, organ-drenched sound of his debut.Instead, his music remained strongly rooted in a psychedelic nature with occasional jazzy vibes here and there, like coming from a late-60's enviroment than reminding of an album following the trend of the age towards more complicated and symphonic textures.A fairytale atmosphere is still apparent on the album through the melodic flutes of Bergman in the shortest pieces of the effort, which are also the only ones resembling to the ethereal style of ''Sagan om ringen''.Acoustic guitars and the smooth rhythm section are also very nice in a typical folky mood of the Scandinavian lands.The long pieces of the release though are fairly dissapointing, without being bad at all.Mostly dated organ-based Psychedelic Rock, interrupted by sax moves or jazzy electric piano in arrangements that sound more like instrumental jams than cohesive pieces of music.Håkansson's interesting guitar work along with some of Hansson's good organ themes save them from being absolutely flat, but the strong 60's psych flavor is evident throughout a work, that should be keeping an eye in the future.

If the first two albums of Hansson were released in reverse order, we would be talking about two quite normal works.As they are, ''Ur trollkarlens hatt'' does not make it for a successful follow-up to a very good debut.Recommended only to Jazz Rock and Psych/Prog fans...2.5 stars.

Report this review (#979248)
Posted Sunday, June 16, 2013 | Review Permalink

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