In the wonderful 70’s, when a group wanted to release a double album filled to the brim with music, it didn’t have to be jam-packed of tight songs, but it could have some loose jams in different moments. AB’s second album is a fairly different beast than its debut, much looser, much more ethnic and much less jazzy.The group was reduced to a sextet but numerous other changes and many guests were invited. Under a gatefold artwork showing amateur but inspired pencil drawings and some more “homemade” features giving the album an unprofessional or amateur look, without this becoming a bad thing. The first disc’s opening side seems dedicated to Indian music as both track (amounting to 21 mins+) a much in the Europeans thought they could do it homage as the sitar reigns supreme over harmonium drones. On the flipside there are appears to be some slightly cosmic trends in Jorden, which is slightly odd just preceding the Kelzmer-Gypsy jazz of Charmante Yerevan. The closing lengthy Akreaka II is a slow evolving and enthralling piece, but it ends up too repetitititive.
The second disk starts on Tibetan horns (rightly so as the track is Radio Tibet), but the music evolves much and ends up improvising greatly. Finishing that side is the usual Embryo-sounding Tva Vardlar. The flipside has the gypsy-jazz Jugoslavian Dans, the Indian sitar & tabla music over a flute & piano background, but it’s overstaying its welcome by a full two or three minutes. The closing Tva Hundra is a cosmic jam (possibly after an Aurora Borealis, given the electronics tweedlings)
Much less enthralling but at least as adventurous as its forerunner, AB II is not an easy piece to digest, because it tends to fuse different ethnic musical styles together, but ultimately come out only as halfway successful. So while certainly worth a listen, their second album is not really essential and therefore might be only interesting only if you thought their debut superb…….by Sean Trane …….
Archimedes Badkar were a sizable conglomerate of highly talented Swedish musicians who enjoyed straddling the uncertain ground between European folk traditions, unjazzy improvisation and exotic panethnicity. Although on vinyl few of their compositions extended 10 minutes, the free-flowing form of these pieces indicates that their musical adventures must have been more lengthy affairs.
The band’s debut was recorded in a movable line-up of Per Tjernberg (keyboards), Peter Rönnberg (guitar), Matts Hellqvist (guitar and bass), Christer Bjernelind (bass), Kjell Andersson (drums), Tommy Adolfsson (trumpet), Jörgen Adolfsson (saxophone) and Pysen Eriksson (percussion). Multi-instrumentalist Ingvar Karkoff later replaced Rönnberg, but only appeared on the second LP. By the time Archimedes Badkar recorded its third LP, Bengt Berger and Peter Ragnarsson took responsibility for the increasingly complex polyrhythmic exoticism.
Clearly, Archimedes Badkar fully digested the seeds planted in Sweden by Don Cherry in the early 1970s. Despite the various influences – Balkan, Indian, or West African – the band’s unquestionable musical literacy always allowed them to maintain a sense of balance. It remains a fresh and engaging experience over three decades later.
Förtryckets sista timme The double LP begins with a riddle. Ottoman-sounding lute will weave its gentle threads throughout this first piece, but we are not sure who the player is. The original LP mentions Anita Livstrand as the officiating tambura player, but some later tracks convince us that she probably handles the droning Indian tambura, not the long-necked Iranian tambura or Yugoslav namesake derived from Turkish saz… Whoever the virtuoso of this oud-sounding lute is does a heck of a job. The drone ration is provided by Jörgen Alofsson on static viola. Pysen Eriksson adds his hand drums with divagations transplanted from raga scales. As discrete accompaniment is being procreated from an intercourse of tambourine and electric bass, the “oud” lays out uplifting, floating, quasi-improvised beadwork. Then the viola drone and rhythmic tiles whittle down, allowing the “oud” to handle the spotlight with C-tunings. The track picks up pace and sidewinds with Christer Bjernelind’s locked-in bass becoming more prominent. This sublime example of damascened ethno-jazz-folk was written by Christér Bothen, one of Don Cherry’s disciples.
Efter regnet Peter Ragnarsson on digressive tabla and Christer Bjernelind on glimmering, breezy mandola anchor the rest of the band. Somewhat laconic and parsimonious, the viola lurks behind, overshadowed by faint, subharmonic vocalizations. Tangential (Indian) tambura plays a very marginal role here – only occasionally pitching in a short phrase. Throughout the piece, the sensorial and subtle timbral organization evokes the Italian band Aktuala which featured a very young Trilok Gurtu around the same time. When violin and mandola finally intone a springtime tune, things get progressively denser, with superimposition of patterns moving in various directions.
Vattenfall This sequel, recorded several months later, is a much faster acoustic guitar theme that evolves into a pleasant theme for multiple lutes and bass.
Rebecca A sprightly folk song is played on clarinet solo (Kjell Andersson) and mandolin. After the competent intro, an unwieldy recorder and triangle add some enhancing accents.
Jorden Sleigh bells invite us to a Nordic ride. Polarized drone emerges from electric guitars, painting static aquarelle circles. The bells and coppery jangle occasionally bulge from inside the drone, some generated by faster handiwork and some by dissolute pick scrapes. At the end, only sleigh bells bid farewell.
”Charmante Yérévan” en lät från Armenien This traditional Armenian song was arranged by Per Tjernberg and Kjell Westling of Arbete och Fritid. Westling, who had recently recorded with Bengt Berger in Spjärnsvallet, appears here on flutes, disambiguating the melodic lines. The remaining instruments – electric piano, mandola, acoustic piano, drum and bass – conform to the Sweden’s vintage ‘world music’ style of that era and comparisons with Arbete och Fritid cannot be easily avoided. When Per Tjernberg’s clavinet rolls into the cusps of twists and hooks, Samla Mammas Manna’s tongue-in-cheek playfulness comes to mind as well. There are even more references when the duo of Tommy & Jörgen Adolfsson on trumpet and saxophone takes over. This album was recorded barely four months after Tommy Adolfsson participated in the recording of Berits Halsband’s eponymous LP. From all this personal distraction emerges an intoxicating classic of European folk. The candid cascade is finally cut off by the bass and electric piano.
Afreaka II This track prepares us for the abstract sound that Jörgen Adolfsson would soon develop on Iskra’s monumental avant-garde jazz recordings, with bells, chimes, free form acoustic guitar and excursions into piano morphology. Drumsticks hurt themselves against a metal frame, while less bruised participants embark on a timbral research of mandola and mandolin (Jörgen Adolfsson). After a short silence, sparse scraps of isolated notes contend with hollow bamboo clacking and half-mute gongs. Unexpectedly, acoustic guitar quilts a West African-sounding picking line, quickly falling into a groove and gaining support from an army of shakers, rattles and vibraslap. The resulting, obsessive drumming on woodblocks (Bengt Berger) reminds me of a raucous, percussive trip on a Senegalese ferry not long ago… Here, Archimedes Badkar engages with passion in a tribal jam, fading out all too soon.
Radio Tibet The first question is – “is it a tuba, or is it a Tibetan trumpet”? Recalling my own visits to Tibetan monasteries, this sounds rather quiet and unobtrusive by comparison. Crash cymbals resonate, with long sustain before we can identify the horn sound to be (most probably) Bb bass trumpet. It is endowed with a round, full sound – way more responsive than the long Tibetan trumpets and more easily likened to a trombone. When Ingvar Karkoff’s electric guitar tinkers gently with reverb, he is ends up being entirely swallowed by the resulting echo. Meanwhile, crotals shimmer fluently, ebbing and flowing in and out of focus. The layers accumulate, impasto style – Pysen Eriksson pitches in on palo de agua and some metallic tubes send out graceful overtones. By now Karkoff’s guitar turns into a Günter Schickert-like echo guitar, albeit sans its rock rhythm.
Tvä världar Surprisingly, this is formed around additive rhythms on acoustic piano, reminiscent of Steve Reich’s easily recognizable style, and complete with invading horn waves. Only mandolin’s barely tangible clipping adds a differing shade. We have sitar and chimes with splashes of liquefied color; and a soprano saxophone sketching a melancholic line. In a bow to systemic syncretism, the violin chips in in a more Paul Zukofsky-like manner (more active, squeezing many more notes per measure). These claddings are carried on loops of various lengths and begin to diverge just when a straight-ahead rock drum intervenes. Once, twice. Then nothing. Thrice. Is this going to be another rock version of classical American minimalism? L’infonie’s “Vol.33” (1970) comes to mind – the very first of many rock adaptations of Terry Riley’s most famous composition. But Archimedes Badkar is not launching into rewriting the rules of the genre. The band will incorporate a salient trumpet, a feeble piano and the Indian tambura forever condemned to its background role.
Jugoslavisk dansk This is a merry “Yugoslav” dance scored for saxophone, tambourine and solo clarinet. With some additional ingredients from reticent acoustic piano and bass, the band spins endlessly – there so much buoyancy with just a couple measures! We would have to wait for Matt Darriau’s Paradox Trio to get a real mouthful of these Balkan hooks.
Indisk folkmelodi och ett tema av Ingvar Indian tambura drone translates for us the Swedish title (Indian folk melody). Very un-Indian recorders replace subcontinental shawms and clavinet substitutes for… well only Ingvar Karkoff would know for what. The rhythmic framework is maintained by Moroccan bandir and tambourine. In a fluid, conversational development, Per Tjernberg syncopates on his acoustic piano within the limits of the upbeat theme. Archimedes Badkar perfected a thematic evolution in which melodious prayers are born from exotic percussive foam, something that this piece does very well.
Tvä hundra stolta är The closing track is a very distinct affair, opening with non-realist cello bowing. All the other contributions will remain contingent on this – electronic organ overtones, violin squeals and mourning. It is a highly intense piece of improvisation zooming on a rather unusual instrumental combination. The violin and cello will seek some classical cues, but to no avail; the exploration will remain free form. Kjell Anderson scrapes and grates his drums but dares not to beat them. The plaintive violin brings back the ghost of Dave Cross. …..
Here’s what Sjef Oellers had to say about II, Archimedes Badkar’s second album, writing for the Gnosis website: “In 1976, Archimedes Badkar released the double album II on which the band displayed a much wider range of styles. Elements of (ethnic) Embryo, Third Ear Band, Popol Vuh and Amon Düül I or II (think of “Sandoz in the Rain” or “Paradieswärts Düül”) are evident. In addition, they try to integrate Scandinavian and/or European folk in their music. In this respect they sound similar to Arbete & Fritid or Emma Myldenberger/Radio Noisz Ensemble. During the more experimental sections, Archimedes Badkar venture into either minimalist or free rock realms. Archimedes Badkar’s instrumentation is half acoustic, half electric; besides guitar, bass, piano/organ and percussion, a wealth of other instruments such as violin, mandolin, trumpet, flutes, cello, bouzouki, saxophones, etc. can be heard. Both the wide spectrum of musical influences and instruments make this album a varied listening experience. Their music is partly energetic and lively, while other tracks have a much more raga-like drone or even a cosmic, trippy Krautrock vibe. The alternation between droning, hypnotic passages and lively, melodic sections gives the album a very pleasant, intrinsic flow. A unique album with absolutely mesmerizing music. [Both] albums are highly recommended.”
Released in Sweden on the Muskinätet Waxholm (MNW) label in 1976, this double LP set comes in a gatefold cover. The cover is in G- and the records are in VG++ condition. Please check out my other auctions for Archimedes Badkar’s first release, Badrock För Barn I Alla Åldrar. So far these are both unavailable on CD…………..
Archimedes Badkar (”Archimedes´ Bathtub”) was a Swedish group formed by percussionist/pianist/composer Per Tjernberg that existed between 1972 –1980, recording four LPs (including a 2 LP set) that has since achieved cult status in several camps. ”World Music” was not yet a household term, but for once that description seems perfect for what Archimedes Badkar must definitely be regarded as one of the pioneering bands. Several of the members had travelled and studied music in North and South India, Morocco, Mali, Ghana and other countries, and several of them were well educated in the languages of jazz and contemporary music. What still seems unique and fascinating about this band is that there seemed to be no limits in terms of musical styles and instrumentation : in live performances and on recordings they would transform themselves from a Greek village orchestra to an african thumb-piano duo to a wild horn-driven jazz-combo to a Indian ensemble with sarod, santoor, tablas and the works but with electric bass taking the lead… this might not seem entirely sensational today, but think again – this was thirty years ago.
The late Don Cherry, who some claim actually invented the term ”World Music”, was residing in Sweden at the time and was a very important influence on Archimedes Badkar (as well as many other Swedish bands and musicians who started to experiment with music and instruments from various cultures) – Cherry was a frequent guest artist with Archimedes and several of it´s members recorded and toured with Cherry at different occasions.
”Tre” is, as it´s title implies, Archimedes Badkar´s third album, extended for this first-ever CD-release with five bonus tracks from the second album and ”Bado Kidogo” (a collaboration with members from Tanzanian pop band ”Afro 70” with whom the group toured as a big band in the summer of 1978). While Archimedes´ first years had been pretty chaotic as far as who and how many people were part of the band (ranging from four to twenty people on stage, including fire-eaters, dancers and light-show operators), by the time ”Tre” was recorded it was a more tightly structured operation, consisting of :
TOMMY ADOLFSSON Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet, Wooden Trumpet (Sinka), Fluegel Horn, Tibetan Horns, Conch Shells, Percussion JÖRGEN ADOLFSSON Sopranino-, Soprano-, Alto- and Tenor Saxophones, Flutes, Clarinet, Contra Bass Clarinet, Zurna, Chinese Oboe, Violin, Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, Oud, Vibraphone, Percussion CHRISTER BOTHÉN Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Piano, Guimbri, Dossou N´Goni, Balaphone CHRISTER BJERNELIND Electric Bass, String Bass, Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, occasional wind instruments PER TJERNBERG Percussion, Drums, Piano, Clavinet, Organ, Harmonium, Accordion, Santoor, African Thumb-Pianos, Berimbau, Marimba BENGT BERGER Drums, Percussion, Ko-Gyil Xylophone PETER EK Tabla, Sarod, Electric Bass, Percussion
(percussionist PYSEN ERIKSSON left during the recording, and is only playing on some tracks, while INGVAR KARKOFF – who played piano, cello and guitar – left just before to become a succesful composer of contemporary music) ….
Songs / Tracks Listing A1 Förtryckets Sista Timme (11:17) A2 Efter Regnet + Vattenfall (10:17) B1 Rebecca (1:33) B2 Jorden (6:13) B3 Charmante Yerevan, En Låt Från Armenien (3:25) B4 Afreaka II (10:40) C1 Radio Tibet (9:17) C2 Två Världar (9:26) D1 Jugoslavisk Dans (2:15) D2 Indisk Folkmelodi Och Ett Tema Av Ingemar (7:05) D3 Två Hundra Stolta År (9:46)