Thursday, January 15, 2009

Relics - Bo Hansson's Sagan Om Ringen

In lieu of the new Lord of the Rings game, Conquest, which was released a few days ago for xbox (and is now being played at a Pickett Street house near you!)...I fondly introduce to you Bo Hansson's rendition of the classic novel in auditory form: Sagan Om Ringen, or Lord of the Rings.

The album is just as it sounds- music inspired by Tolkien's words. The 1972 version on Buddah Records even comes with a delightful LP sized photo of mister J.R.R himself. First a little background...Bo Hansson was once part of successful Swedish organ rock duo, Hansson and Karlsson, who toured heavily from '67-'69. Apparently Jimi Hendrix jammed with them regularly and even asked them to tour with the Experience at one point during their career together. Hendrix also recorded one of Hansson's songs, Tax Free. The end of the sixties apparently left Bo tired and trodden (as one can imagine) so he took time off to focus on writing and reading. He developed a fascination with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, and mentioned the idea of composing music for the story to a few friends. It was during this time he began to work on a demo of some tracks for the Lord of the Rings idea.

Since hanging around reading, writing, and noodling on some tunes doesn't earn most people dick in this world...Hansson was evicted from his apartment just around the time he was most inspired to tackle the task of fully composing the album he had been dreaming about. So, Hansson, one of the founders of Swedish label Silence records, Anders Lind, and a few other un-named "homeless" friends- combined their resources and rented a small summer house in the archipelago of Stockholm and set out to record what was hoped to be the first release for Silence Records.

The friends spent the fall and winter season of '69 and '70 reading Tolkien and recording Hansson's music to four track tape. The end result is magical. The album is skillfully layered, sweeping, and haunting- the spacey moodiness seems to perfectly articulate Hansson’s response to the literature. Quite subtle and introspective; this is meadows, forests, and elves type shit, rather than intense orc battles. But don't let that get you down! This is true journey music- creatures crawl out of hammond organs, from synthesizers...dark forests emerge, bongos are galloping horses, shrill guitars- the foreboding wind. Many of you will no doubt recognize certain Hansson melodies that have been borrowed, if you will, and embedded into some of Dungen's earlier releases.

The album was released in the late Swedish Fall of 1970- and became quite successful nationally- receiving regular, heavy rotation on National Swedish Radio. Plus, the album has a sick cover to boot, done by artist Jane Furst. Versions past the original 1970 release have extra tracks, as at the time, Hansson was churning out so much related material that everyone felt needed to be released. According to the back of the LP, the players include Hansson on organ, guitar, moog synth and bass; Rune Carlsson on drums; Gunnar Bergsten on sax; Sten Bergman, flute; and a few other "anonymous friends." Rumor has it, ol' Jimi made a secret trip to Sweden to jam on the recording.

No comments: