During my long holiday break, I not only found time to listen to a lot of music that I'd missed from the past year, but also dove back into the back catalogue of my collection with wild abandon and re-discovered a lot of music that I realized I wish I had more time to listen to on a regular basis. One of the albums that was played on multiple occasions (out of earshot of my wife, as she hates this stuff) was the double-disc self-titled release by Párson Sound, an underground Swedish psych rock band from the late 60s that created insane music that still destroys much of what is being recorded today.
The very early roots of the band were formed in 1966, when a musician named Bo Anders Persson started compositional studies at the Royal Academy, but felt a bit hemmed-in by the emphasis on technique and theories. Only a year later, Terry Riley visited Sweden, and Perrson was one of the musicians who took place in a performance of the classic In C, furthering his notions of creating more experimental and improvisational music that incorporated elements of folk and rock music. In a rapid burst, a batch of musicians came together, playing everything from traditional instruments to tape loops, amplified electric cello, saxophone, flute, and more.
Many members of the group (including Persson) would later morph into such groups as International Harvester, Harvester, Trád, and Grás Och Stenar, and while all of those incarnations had stellar moments, none of them capture the almost feverish intensity of these original sessions. Originally recorded for a wide variety of outlets (including rehearsals, outdoor park performances, and sessions for live radio), the recording quality isn't always the greatest, but the sheer hypnotic quality of the music more than makes up for any deficiencies.
It's music that's hard to classify today, and probably split even more heads open when it was originally recorded. "From Tunis To India In Fullmoon (On Testosterone)" is literally one of the most noisy, minimal psych tracks I've ever heard. Clocking in at over twenty minutes, it chugs forward relentlessly with a doom-riffic rhythm section as guitars, electric cello and soprano saxophone wail away and joust with one another while building up some delicious tension and release. "One Quiet Afternoon (In The King's Garden)" captures a recording from a restaurant performance (I can only imagine being there) where the group layers multiple tape loop, flute, and string drones over pounding drums and guitars before the entire thing gets swallowed up in a creepy haze that sounds like the group is trying to contact spirits from beyond the grave.
In places, they do sound a smidgen more of-their-time, but even the more traditional opening section of "Sov Gott Rose-Marie" morphs into a sort of primordial drone-rock that pretty much melts away any of the more lighthearted melodies that came before it. Showing a completely different side of their personality is "On How To Live," where an open-air recording adds delightful nature sounds to an open-air acoustic park jam that predates groups like The Blithe Sons by over three decades. The release even contains a tape-loop and voice meditation by Persson himself that sounds ages ahead of its time as well.
In their fairly short period under this name, Párson Sound exploded with ideas, and even managed to find some high-profile accolades, opening for The Doors and even playing at the opening of an Andy Warhol exhibition at the museum of Modern Art in Stockholm at his request. It's just over two hours worth of music that's incredibly expressive and intense, and unfortunately out of print again. If you must have the CD, good luck hunting it down, otherwise the excellent digital-only re-release label Anthology Recordings has just made it part of their high-quality catalogue.