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BO HANSSON

Symphonic Prog • Sweden


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Bo Hansson biography
Bo HANSSON (born 10 April 1943 in Gothenburg, Sweden, died 24 April 2010) is famous for his 1972 concept album "Lord of the Rings" which came out decades before Hollywood ever made any noise about Tolkien's trilogy. The music was taped on a remote island off Stockholm, on an 8-track recorder, in a summer house studio with the help of a few friends and musicians. It received Gold Record awards in England and Australia. Licenced by Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma label in England and America, it was also the subject of an extensive TV ad campaign that turned it into a hit in progressive rock circles at the time.

"Lord of the Rings" is a beautiful, timeless album of instrumental psychedelia worth hearing, even if it does sound rather 70ish production-wise. It doesn't feature any "fantasy/medieval" themes ā la AYREON but captures the otherworldly, pastoral feel of Tolkien's work, like a Nordic album should. HANSSON later pursued with the more jazzy album "Magician's Hat" in '73 and, then with a second winner in '75 entitled "Attic Thoughts", which features a much better sound than the "Lord" album. This time, violin and acoustic guitars are added to the mix while organs and synths swell in impressive solos. "Music Inspired by Watership Down" (1977), however, was quite a disappointment and signalled HANSSON's decline. He finally released "Mitt I Livet" in 1985 but the flame had already died long ago. Having turned 60 in April 2003, he is now rumoured to be incapacitated by illness and has ceased recording.

Both "Lord of the Rings" and "Attic Thoughts" are a must for any collector of early Swedish prog, even if you still can't tell Gandalf from Frodo.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

See also: HANSSON & KARLSSON

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The Lord Of The RingsThe Lord Of The Rings
Import
VIRGIN 2011
Audio CD$11.98
$9.99 (used)
music inspired by watership down LPmusic inspired by watership down LP
SIRE
Vinyl$11.00 (used)
Attic ThoughtsAttic Thoughts
Sire
Vinyl$24.44 (used)
MellanväsenMellanväsen
Import
SILENCE PROGG 2017
Audio CD$13.96
$16.25 (used)
Sagan Om Ringen/Lord of the RingsSagan Om Ringen/Lord of the Rings
Extra tracks
Silence Music 2009
Audio CD$15.83
$12.09 (used)
Magician's HatMagician's Hat
Import · Remastered
EMI Import 2004
Audio CD$77.00 (used)
DifferencesDifferences
Nosag 2005
Audio CD$13.49
$15.53 (used)
Music Inspired By Lord Of The RingsMusic Inspired By Lord Of The Rings
One Way Records Inc 1996
Audio CD$34.97
$19.70 (used)
Magician's HatMagician's Hat
One Way Records Inc 1996
Audio CD$36.95
$34.98 (used)
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BO HANSSON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BO HANSSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 122 ratings
Sagan Om Ringen [Aka: Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings]
1970
3.59 | 63 ratings
Ur Trollkarlens Hatt [Aka: Magician's Hat]
1972
3.18 | 36 ratings
Ur Trollkarlens Hatt [Aka: Magician's Hat]
1972
3.77 | 71 ratings
Mellanväsen [Aka: Attic Thoughts]
1975
3.77 | 43 ratings
El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down]
1977
1.37 | 8 ratings
Mitt I Livet
1985

BO HANSSON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BO HANSSON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BO HANSSON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.44 | 6 ratings
The Best Of Bo Hansson
1983
3.24 | 6 ratings
Lord Of The Rings (extended version)
1986

BO HANSSON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
The Black Riders-Flight to the Ford
1973
0.00 | 0 ratings
Visst Fa'n Har Jag Druckit
1985

BO HANSSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.77 | 43 ratings

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El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

4 stars Out of the rabbit hole

I remember the first time I read Richard Adams Watership Down. If anybody out there hasn't already read it, then I urge you to pick this one up, as it most vividly incorporates everything from Tolkien to Homer in a way I've never come across - before nor since. This book had a profound effect on me, and I had jagged edged dreams of bloody rabbits for weeks on end - imagining myself deeply immersed in the great adventures of El-Ahrairah.

Now, Bo Hansson has never been the man to shy away from "stealing" inspiration from well known novels, but then again he has, in all honesty, never really made a mistake that way. One could state that he chose the safe bet with all these records - starting off with the now famous Lord of the Rings, but back then there were no film to back up a get- rich-quick-scheme on the basis of the new Hollywood blockbuster - nor were there any for Watership Down, although it had its fair share of success, when it was released in 1972 - staying on the best seller list until February 1975.

El-Ahrairah is a mystical character in Watership Down - it is a rabbit legend of sorts, that inspires these little creatures to do better - to think outside the box and be cunning as the devil himself - just like the rabbit in your back yard eating carrots and cabbage like there was no tomorrow, when you yourself are far far away on the big oceans of sleep. In Lapine, his name is a contraction of the phrase Elil-hrair-rah, which means "prince with a thousand enemies". Having read the book first for then to jump on board this musical adaptation, I obviously had my doubts. Would it take away from the fantastic experience - maybe even diminish the great fondness I had for this awe inspiring tale?

No is the quick answer. Just like Lord of the Rings - El-Ahrairah feels strangely in tune with the novel's gripping proceedings. The first cut called Utvandring (Exodus) describes in sonic pomp and grandeur how a small group of rabbits are forced to leave the comfort and security of their own home due to the overhanging dangers of a soon to be man made building project. The music is beautiful towering symphonic rock with a strong penchant for the late sixties, which comes through in the warmth and glow of the interplay between guitar and organ. Sloshing back and forth the images of rabbits torn between their home and the unknown wilderness in wait - are almost tangible to this listener. Such is the story with every track on here, and if you are fond of the subtle natural beauty of the piano escorting mighty cascading walls of gorgeously orchestrated music, then El-Ahrairah is a safe bet. The production of the thing is another winner. Whereas most artists had adopted the pre-80s sounding mixing with the metallic cleanliness attached to nearly every electric instrument, Bo Hansson stays true to his old hippie roots(remember this guy started out back in the late 60s contributing greatly to the aspiring hippie groove scene) and delivers a vibrant and warm production that elevates the true character of both the involved musicians and the underlying storyline. Let me put it this way: Retelling a story that in short revolves around the close bond we(the rabbits) share with nature, and how we with every new modern initiative are in danger of loosing the things that link us to this old and mystical connection - retelling it with music that is heavily drenched in chrome-like surfaces and distant studio techniques would perhaps be a step too far towards playing the devil's advocate.

This album works like a story being read to you in a language you yourself discover along the way. It is exciting music speaking of horrors and impending bravery, when the plot craves it - either through dangerous sounding guitar snarls - or the lone cow bell tick tocking away in the back counting down to the moment of fear's sudden impact. The story also has great many strolls - shorter travels from rabbit hole to thicket - from undergrowth to the vegetable garden - many of these told through some delicate flute sections sprinkling the music in colours of autumn fields in receding bloom. If you're into the oldest and most treasured way of teaching - that is telling stories, inspiring images of the mind - and then having these handed over to you through the sonic palette of a highly capable and imaginative rock n' roll band, then you should start digging around for this wonderful trip out of the rabbit hole.

 Sagan Om Ringen [Aka: Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.75 | 122 ratings

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Sagan Om Ringen [Aka: Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Bo Hansson gained some success with his previous band HANSSON & KARLSSON who are listed on the site here under Proto- Prog. In fact you could count Jimi Hendrix as a fan as he covered their 1967 track "Tax Free" plus he jammed with them and apparently there is over 4 hours of recorded material from those sessions. This is Bo's 1970 debut which of course is a tribute to The Lord Of The Rings novel. Organ and moog dominate the sound much of the time along with flute, sax and the usual instruments. The music is laid back and atmospheric bringing POPOL VUH to mind at times.

"Leaving The Shire" is a gorgeous opener with slowly played floating organ as moog, drums, percussion, guitar and more help out. There is a purpose in that rhythm. "The Old Forest & Tom Bombadil" reminds me of 60's FLOYD then it picks up. An amazing section. A calm before 3 minutes then it ends like it began. "Fog On The Barrow-Downs" has a haunting atmosphere as sounds play slowly over top. Impressive. "The Black Riders & Flight To The Ford" is again mellow but it does kick into a higher gear after 30 seconds to an uptempo rhythm. Lots of moog, bass, drums and floating organ.

"At The House Of Elrond & The Ring Goes South" slows it down again with organ and a beat. I like when the guitar joins in and plays slowly after 2 1/2 minutes then it picks back up again. "A Journey In The Dark" is dark surprisingly as sounds slowly come and go. "Lothlorien" is another track that I can't get enough of. That floating organ, moog and percussion in particular. "Shadowfax" is a short uptempo piece. "The Horns Of Roham & The Battle Of The Pelennor Fields" features sax and some tempo shifts. "Dreamy In The House Of Healing" is dreamy surprisingly with guitar over top. "Homeward Bound & The Scouring Of The Shire" opens with drums as other sounds join in. Percussion, organ and moog lead the way on the final track "The Grey Havens" and the sound of waves rolling in ends it.

I read somewhere that this music was dated but I have to disagree and would argue that the music here is as timeless as the book that inspired it.

 Sagan Om Ringen [Aka: Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.75 | 122 ratings

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Sagan Om Ringen [Aka: Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Gollum approved dream-prog

Bo Hansson is an acclaimed Swedish progressive rock multi-instrumentalist deserving of more attention than he received. Here in the States he couldn't get arrested which is our loss but this album did quite well in other parts of the world. Hansson plays all of the keyboards and guitars on his debut homage to Tolkien, getting help only on the drums, saxophone and flute. "Lord of the Rings" is a largely quiet and contemplative album with a sound that is dreamy, spacey, often melodic. Some sections do wake up with energetic if not outwardly rocking playing. I guess I would describe the album as a mixture of Floyd for emotions, Popul Vuh for the meditative aspects, and Oldfield for the spirited moments like "The Black Riders and Flight to the Ford." This track runs the gamut from bright keyboards to rhythmic conga playing to acid-drenched guitar solos. In fact Oldfield work like Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn sound as if they could have been influenced by LotR which precedes both Oldfield classics. Overall the album is draped in organ textures, with accompanying saturated lead guitar, bass, flute and sax. Closer "The Grey Havens" sounds very much like a Popul Vuh track with organ layered over the top. It sounds the same beginning to end with slow, subtle variations happening below the surface. If that sounds appealing don't pass up this album!

In his excellent Guide to Progressive Music, Bradley Smith notes the album "exudes a hypnotic and mysterious atmosphere...not really jazz, rock, or classical, nor is it soundtrack music. At the time of its appearance there really were no precedents for an album like this...resembles the 68-70 era of Pink Floyd a la "Set the Controls" only without vocals...takes the most moody and spacey elements of that style and expands it to album length, quite an innovative move for 1970...an intoxicatingly Gothic and psychedelic atmosphere that is drifting, pulsing, organic, spiritual, melodic, and friendly."

The one area where I don't find the album particularly successful is in the conjuring of images of Tolkien from the music. Others state that the music directly brings the book to one's mind and perfectly matches music to story. Honestly, if I didn't know the album was based on the Tolkien book I would never have made the connection. It's great and adventurous progressive rock but it doesn't remind me of Tolkien-esque images nearly as much as some other works. That minor quibble aside "Lord of the Rings" is highly recommended to fans of instrumental fantasy prog; Oldfield fans, Nektar fans, and Floyd fans would all I suspect enjoy this very much.

 El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.77 | 43 ratings

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El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars For some odd reason, this later album by Swedish artist Bo Hanson is frequently considered a real drop in quality from his previous works, but I can't for the life of me understand why. `Music Inspired by Watership Down', based around the well-known Richard Adams novel, is still full of all the colour, shimmering keyboards and unpredictable quirks usually associated with Hanson's work, and there's still plenty of traces that made his earlier albums (including one of my personal favourites `Attic Thoughts') so memorable and delicious to the ear. Like with an earlier album `Lord of the Rings', Mr Hanson once again turned to a beloved novel for initial inspiration, and the results are perhaps one of the most tasteful and exquisite instrumental prog albums, and certainly one of the most gentle!

With an army of keyboard variety (Moog, Hammond organ, you name it), endless tempo changes, propulsive drumming, jazz/fusion electric guitar flavours and even some adorable strolling reggae moments in the finale, the almost 17 minute opener `Born in the Gentle South' is a lush and mellow epic. Hanson's fellow musicians here have frequent little duels between eachother, with Kebnekaise member Kenny Hakensson's grand electric guitar solo in the climax worthy of approval from Camel mainman Andy Latimar himself. Playful, dynamic and always endlessly melodic, the whole piece makes for a sublime example of impossibly charming instrumental prog at it's most romantic.

After the brief delirous synth/guitar/drum interlude `Allegro For A Rescue', the stark piano and tip-toeing flute of the darker `Legend and Light' is full with a playful creeping unease, with two booming fanfares to offer some blustery relief. For such an imposing title, `Trial and Adversity' is actually very mellow and dreamy, with the most gentle of David Gilmour- inspired guitar licks over wavering spacey synths and placid washes of synths and another little taste of soft reggae tones. `The Twice - Victory' opens as a delicate and affectionate acoustic guitar and piano duet before rising to life as a victorious organ fanfare, only some electric guitar menace and marching drums raising the tension in the second half. Some Steve Hackett-type `Voyage of the Acolyte' sounds are in evidence here, and the instrumental melodies throughout the piece might be some of the prettiest Hanson ever offered. The brief `The Kingdom Brightly Smiles' is a warm piano solo finale to then close on.

I wonder if the album had a different title and a more colourful cover (or even a borderline insane one like `Attic Thoughts'), followers of Bo Hanson who kind of dismiss this one would be a little more forgiving. Suitable for a lazy afternoon background listen or a great way to unwind for everyday stresses, `Music Inspired by `Watership Down" is a perfectly lovely and diginified instumental album that lovers of Bo Hanson's previous works and the romantic prog of artists such as Camel, Rousseau and Terpandre should adore.

Four stars for this timeless little beauty.

 Ur Trollkarlens Hatt [Aka: Magician's Hat] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.18 | 36 ratings

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Ur Trollkarlens Hatt [Aka: Magician's Hat]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator 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.

 Ur Trollkarlens Hatt [Aka: Magician's Hat] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.18 | 36 ratings

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Ur Trollkarlens Hatt [Aka: Magician's Hat]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

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.

 Mellanväsen [Aka: Attic Thoughts] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.77 | 71 ratings

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Mellanväsen [Aka: Attic Thoughts]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After hearing ATTIC THOUGHTS, I'm surprised that Bo Hansson hasn't received more applause than I perceive him having. It falls right in line with good symphonic instrumental prog that is heavy on the keyboards, but allows the guitar to have some fun.

And it sheds most perceived pomposity by not really having much in the solo department; all tracks more or less function as if they indeed were classical pieces of music for a keyboard-led rock band. The tracks aren't overkill in the length department either, so the lack of any singing is somewhat nullified by the tunes being comparatively bite-sized.

Major problem-the inconsistency of the material. The second half is an absolute joy to listen to. ''Rabbit Music'', ''A Happy Prank'' and ''Time for Great Achievements'' especially pick up the pace of the album that was at a near lull on the first side. The opening march theme is it for the A side for me; it only lasts a minute before veering completely off course into mellower areas. ''Waiting''' is very apropos; I'm always waiting for something to happen.

While not a supremely great album, ATTIC THOUGHTS fits very nicely and can be uncannyingly enjoyable.

 Sagan Om Ringen [Aka: Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.75 | 122 ratings

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Sagan Om Ringen [Aka: Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I heard this album recently. I must say I was a bit fed up with this Lord Of The Rings fascination among musicians (even if I did like german metallers Blind Guardian version of the same fascination). So I was not really willing to listen to it for a while. But since Bo Hansson was the very first (or among the first) to do such work, I feel like giving him a shot. Tthe results sounded to me like a soundrtack album from the late 60´s: lots of psychedelic keys and guitars, a few wind instruments and good drums.

A very good soundtrack, I should say, since soundtracks are not really my cup of tea. And still I like it. Although it was planned to be an album with vocals on it, it seems that Tolkien´s State did not granted permission to do so. I wonder how it would have sound if lyrics were allowed. However, I must admit taht, most of the time, it works. It does ring better than most of the works I heard based on the famous book. I don´t think this is a masterpiece in any way, noe anything esential in any prog music collectio. But it is still very good, specially if you like late 60´s instrumentals (I do). The music in general is well composed, well played and the production is ok for the time. I really love the organ sound and the more melodic themes, like The Grey Heavens. The presence of a good electric guitar in several songs is a nice surprise for a keyboardsman solo efford.My CD copy is the extended version with a few additional tracks that are worth having them.

All in all a very good CD of the time. It spurred my curiosity to get to know his other works.

Final rating: 3,5 stars.

 El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.77 | 43 ratings

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El-Ahrairah [Aka: Music Inspired By Watership Down]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Including a track based on Watership Down on Attic Thoughts (AKA Mellanväsen) evidently inspired Bo Hansson to produce an entire album based on the book, much like his debut was based on J.R.R. Tolkien's work. Music Inspired By Watership Down (AKA El-Ahrairah) is an interesting mix of the mildly funk influenced symphonic jams of Attic Thoughts or Magician's Hat with the mystical approach of Lord of the Rings, and for my money it's Hansson's most accomplished and cohesive work since his debut, the concept apparently helping to focus his efforts. Apparently this would be Bo's last full-on prog album - the mid-1980s comeback album Mitt I Livet being a very different affair from his earlier albums - but as far as swan songs go it's a more than credible effort.
 Mellanväsen [Aka: Attic Thoughts] by HANSSON, BO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.77 | 71 ratings

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Mellanväsen [Aka: Attic Thoughts]
Bo Hansson Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Attic Thoughts - Mellanvasen if you have the Swedish version - sounds an awful lot like a continuation of its predecessor, Magician's Hat, possibly because so many of the guest musicians who pop in to give Bo a hand also performed on that album. Both albums show a diverse range of influences, sneak in a funky bassline or two, and lack the cohesiveness the concept of Lord of the Rings offered Bo's debut (as well as the mystical, otherworldly atmosphere of that album). On balance, if you liked Magician's Hat you should probably go for Attic Thoughts, and if you like Attic Thoughts you should give Magician's Hat a try - but if you don't have Lord of the Rings, go for that first.
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