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Asoka + bonus (1971)

Fuzzy, freaky, and a legendary bit of heavy rock from the Swedish scene of the early 70s -- filled with bombastic tracks that should have sent shockwaves around the world! The drums are incredible -- filled with energy, and booming out on nearly every track -- matched by long-winded guitar wrapped up in plenty of fuzz -- ripping out into the void, driven long with some massively monstrous basslines! The group clearly drank up a heady dose of blues rock energy from the US underground of the late 60s -- but then went ahead and turned the whole thing up to 11 and started jamming away on their own -- too muddy and messy for prog, and played with an intensity that's undeniable. Titles include "Svensson Blues", "I'm Trying", "Ataraxia", "Leave Me", and "If You Feel". Features 8 bonus tracks -- and notes in English too! (Dusty Groove)

Robban Larsson - guitars
Patrick Erixcon - vocals, bongos
Claes Ericsson - piano, organ
Kent "Tjobbe" Bengtson - bass
Alf "Daffy" Bengtson – drums

Take Off

While the majority of this era's underground bands loiter in a realm of the anonymous, Asoka, a Swedish six-piece, is even more ambiguous yet. Why? With the US and Britain easily leading the origin race, this ambiguity can be chalked up to most other countries, aside from possibly Germany and Australia, living in the scene's backwoods still questing for fire. That, of course, doesn't mean those countries didn't have boatloads of bands floating around, and some are just grand. Somehow this band ended up on my initial list of groups to track down. The name beckons no imagery and the title is as generic as they come. Regardless, there it was nestled between Ashkan and Asterix. One day I happened across a nice-priced cd on Ebay, plugged the bid, and won. Popping it in, I found myself wishing the disc were a woman, 'cause I almost immediately clicked with its bizarre progressive character and lively ensemble of songs.

Asoka writes songs that fly by the seat of their pants, freewheeling and nimble with a wild peculiarity that just may defy description. This oddness doesn't only come from structural and rhythmic off-the-wall-ism, but a stew of untraditional instruments used to set this lp on its ear. In addition, some of the lyrics are sung in Swedish, which is sometimes worth a laugh. Oh yeah, the musicians can play.

The lp begins with a two-part instrumental, "Psykfoni For Ekogitarr Och Poporkester", a bass-lead instrumental with a decent riff, single-string plucks that don't come off as zany as it sounds, and a civilized solo, while the second part is "Ataraxia". Keyboards and solos fly in and out of the foreground with a bongo/maraca-enhanced rhythm keeping the pace. "Leave Me" is a smooth groover finally showcasing the higher-pitched, assertively untamed vocals of Patrick Erixcon. "Svensson Blues" is home to a tight, urgent rhythm concocted by a blanket of keys and guitar and doesn't stall during the wild drum solo dead in the song's center. "1975", the most eccentric track yet, generates a heavier, off-kilter rhythm with traces of 60s freak beat behind strangely harmonized vocals and a lounging piano solo that Spandau Ballet could've pulled off. While that is the most outlandish, Asoka then takes a rhythm they found wrapped around some telephone pole, play portions of it backward, and stick it in "If You Feel". With the pace speeding up, violin/fiddle swirls in the chorus and is almost remindful of violin-entrenched East of Eden. Play this song in public and I guarantee people will be asking you who the hell it is, in those words, if they just don't look at you like you're wearing a Wonder Woman outfit and walk away. Perhaps the most straight forward is "Tvivlaren", a more hard-nosed affair with in-your-face riffs, intricate keyboards, some streaming solos, and sung in their comedic native tongue to throw it all in a tizzy. Another brawny one is "I'm Try'in (to Find a Way to Paradise)"; breaking, keyboard-laden riffs break around near-keening vocals while robust solos fill the center. A top song with the weirdest finish – you'll get a kick out of it. This careens into a clamorous reprise of "Psykfoni For Ekogitarr Och Poporkester", which mimics the original as much as a duck call resembles the sound of a steamroller starting.

With the odyssey over, there's no doubt in my mind Asoka had an amusing time putting their one and only lp together. There's also no doubt these guys know their way around their instruments, and can spindle the most anarchic musical feature with the more progressive, if not conventional one. Piano/organist Claes Ericsson and guitarist Robban Larsson later joined the jazz-rock group Lotus for a pair of albums. I've read that this slab has a "lack of originality" in one publication. After rubbing my eyes in disbelief, I spun the thing again, found it just as perversely perplexing, and again wished it were a woman.

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4 komentarze:

Ankh pisze...


Anonimowy pisze...

Hi Savage

Cobgratulations and many thanks for this one.

Great post.


Ankh pisze...

Thanks - My Friend. Bertrand. It's nice to know people like You.

fripouille pisze...

thanks for this very good album

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