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Archimedes Badkar - Tre CD (album) cover


Archimedes Badkar

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Retired Admin
4 stars Snowcapped bathtub in the desert

I've been on a Swedish binge lately, and much to my surprise there's almost nothing written about these albums on here. Last time I wrote a bit about organ wizard Eric Malmberg, and now I'd like to proceed this Swedish voyage with a somewhat obscure band called Archimedes Badkar (Archimedes' Bathtub). Their unique take on fusion guides the listener on some amazing carpet rides through the northern parts of Africa. Just like Kebnekaise, Archimedes Badkar incorporated African music into their sound, although I must say that these guys were far more successful.

I've heard many talk about this band as being the Swedish equivalent of Embryo, and this is not far off to tell you the truth. Archimedes Badkar frolic in psychedelia tinged fusion, experimental and freeflowing Krautrock with much emphasis on improvisation - and blend all of this together with a good scoop of African instrumentation.

Trumpet, sax, African drums, piano, violin, mandolin, clarinet, acoustic guitars, recorder, keyboards, tablas, bass, electric guitar and all sorts of exotic percussive features - all of this thrown into one big bowl. And while much of this album comes off as haphazard tunes from the Muppet kitchen - there's still some kind of core - a certain feel of preconception between these musicians. If I were to compare this to anything else, I'd probably say the Bitches Brew guys or the Mwandishi session men - not because they sound alike, but rather because of the total free natured atmosphere, that invites each and everyone to do whatever the hell they want to at any given moment. I realise that I'm painting a picture of crazy music with absolutely no form whatsoever, but that's hardly the fact here. Even when these guy jam, it sounds like it's orchestrated - like there's some meaning behind it all. Take the rhythm sections here for example. They stomp through the music like some harnessed stampede with all these differentiating percussive facets to it - and still there seems to be a togetherness at the front wheel. Even when these take us to the darkest parts of the jungle - and we get wild vocalizations sounding like a bunch of entranced witch doctors, you are never close to losing your mind. Not entirely that is...

One of the things that amazes me the most about this band is that they sound just as comfortable doing the kind of Scandinavian white boy fusion with big mad toots of the wind instruments, as they are making tribal bongo music taken directly from a wild towering bonfire in the midst of the African planes. Part Zulu - part mad Swedes. Then again you'll probably also pick up the Nordic folk music that once in a while pops by to say hello. The violin turns elliptic and slightly skewed - bringing the old myths of Thor and Odin to the fore - yet still backed up by tablas and Eastern sounding strings. This is Archimedes Badkar in a nutshell. They combine all these different cultures and make them sound as if they were one and the same. Like it was some old undiscovered culture with lions and tigers all living in big snowcapped fjords far above the borders of Lappland. With half naked warriors with spears and painted bodies jumping in ecstasy to the power of the music.

There are really no leaders on this album. You'll often get a piano lead groove, enhanced with the echoing wind instruments bellowing out in unison. Then the strings take over, and suddenly you're somewhere completely different, but somehow all these changes feel organic and purposeful - like they were meant to be.

If you like Embryo or any sort of experimental form of fusion, psych mixed with jazzy folk - or just need a different beat - an altogether different style of rhythmically fortified genre-less music that will take you on some wonderful journeys from the highest mountains in the north to the dirt brown and caramel coloured caravans in the winding dunes of the Sahara desert, - then start looking for Archimedes Badkar. I promise you - this bathtub is not like any you've ever stepped into.

Report this review (#616270)
Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This Swedish band was formed by keyboardist Per Tjernberg back in 1972 when he was in grade 8 ! The young lads were influenced by the complex music of Zappa to the Free Jazz stylings of Coltrane / Shepp / Sanders to the minimalistic music of Terry Riley. It was the arrival of Jorgen Adolfsson (a "real musician" as Per puts it) with his knowledge of traditional music from all over the world that their music widened considerably. Jorgen played violin, sax, guitar, flute, mandolin and more.Their real life heroes were the grown-ups in FLASKET BRINNER , TRAD GRAS & STENNAR and Don Cherry who was living in Sweden at the time. The cool thing was that members from these two bands I just mentioned as well as Don Cherry were all members of ARCHIMEDES BADKAR at some point. The early years of this band were very open and free times where just about anyone could get up and play with them and there would be a light show and people extravagantley dressed on stage dancing etc. Perhaps SUN RA was an influence. It wasn't until this third album "Tre" recorded in 1977 that things became more tightly structured. They were a seven piece band at this point including lots of horns (sax, trumpet, clarinet) as well as tablas, mandolin, violin, vibes and more. Certainly Jazz / Fusion is the prominant flavour but we do get those African rhythms and Middle-Eastern stylings.

"Badidoom" is an incredible opener. Lots of percussion and piano as the horns play over top. This is just a joy throughout as they seem to jam. "Wildlife" has nature sounds that fill the air, in fact I feel like i'm somewhere in the middle of the woods. "Akombah" has this collage of intricate sounds. Interesting stuff and there's whistles too. "Bhajaj" as you might guess from the song's title has an Eastern vibe with lots of percussion and tablas. Violin a minute in. "Slum" has piano melodies. Drums and recorder take over. Sax replaces recorder before 2 1/2 minutes.

Thumb Piano" has these intricate sounds throughout. It's kind of cool. "Suite (Pharoah-El Legend-Marrakeck)" is another amazing track just like the opening number. Piano, percussion and more as the horns join in quickly. It's more intense before 2 1/2 minutes. How good is this ! An incredible section right to the end. Screaming sax 4 minutes in and later at 6 minutes. "Desert Band" has percussion,recorder and more as we get an ethnic flavour. "Tzivaeri" has intricate acoustic guitar to open that becomes strummed as gentle recorder and more follow. "Nomads" ends it with an ominous horn melody before the music comes in and builds. I like this a lot.

So an excellent album that will appeal to EMBRYO fans.Easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#636590)
Posted Monday, February 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Arcimedes badkar was a swedish progg band which started 1972 and made its first record "Badrock för barn i alla åldrar" in the year 1975. The secord lp "Archimedes badkar II" came 1976 and this third and second last came 1977. The musicians on this record are Tommy Adolfsson, Jörgen Adolfsson, Christer Bjernelind, Per Tjernberg, Pysen Eriksson, Peter Ragnarsson, Bengt Berger(who has played with many proggbands like Arbete och fritid, Anita Livstrand, Fickteatern, Pärson sound, Sånger om kvinnor) , Sigge Krantz and Christer Bothén.

I have had this records for some years now but my last listening was a long tid ago. On this record they mixed a lot of styles. You can hear fragments of swedish folk musik but mostly they have taken inspiration from other cultures like India and Africa and the orient. The music on this record has very different qualities. Some tracks are pure good material, especially for those who like jazz and improvisation. "Tzivaeri" is the best track with true beauty, clear instruments and a pure melody. "Slum(Södergatan)" is melancolic and wonderful, the only composition here that feels swedish and authentic. "Bhajan" feels like India and contains also bright and intelligent material. We have two pieces which are trumpet and saxophone driven: "Badidoom" and "Suite: Pharoah ? El Legend ? Marrakech". These tracks have a nice feeling, very talanted blowers and give you harmony especially if you like this form of music, I'm not very sure of that. The worst tracks were "Wildlife", "Akombah" and "Thumb piano music" which I considered meaningsless.

As a conclusion I want to say that I think this is tricky music. I don't think it sounds genuine. I feels like they were confused about their identity and therefore searched in other cultures to find it. This is too much world music because it's hard to find THE Archimeds Badkar sound in it. They should have made more bits like "Slum" and they would have been more interesting. Now it feels like this was a one listening-time record.

Report this review (#951665)
Posted Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | Review Permalink

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