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Joakim Skogsberg - Jola Rota (1971)



Even if we didn't make this Record of the Week, we'd probably still be selling quite a few of 'em, as we're sure we've got a lot of knowledgeable record-collector-type customers for whom adding this to cart will be but the work of a second, the second after their eyes bug out upon seeing the artist and title listed above. But since this reissue is not only of an incredible rarity but also of an incredible record, we wanted to make sure everybody heard about it, besides those for whom it's already a "holy grail". Yep, Joakim Skogberg's original 1972 Jola Rota LP definitely falls into the highly obscure "holy grail" category, a lost treasure for lovers of weird, wonderful acid-folk and underground psychedelia. The sort of thing that develops a legend that it can't possibly live up to... but then DOES, blowing minds when it's finally reissued. The sort of thing that's whispered about among connoisseurs of psych, written of in a few select fanzines and blogs, heard only by a lucky few who got an Nth generation cassette dub or cd-r burn from a friend, who got it from a friend, and so on. The sort of thing, that even a few years after a brief exposure to its wonders, will make you stop and think every once in a while, dang when is someone finally gonna reissue that amazing obscure album??? Some other recently excavated examples would include Moolah's Woe Ye Demons Possessed, Bobb Trimble's Harvest Of Dreams, and Gary Higgins's Red Hash... and before that, once upon a time Comus's First Utterance too would have fallen into that category. Bruce Haack's Electric Lucifer as well, though originals of that were and are much MUCH easier to come by. Whereas *this* album was originally pressed in an edition of around just one thousand copies -- of which only a few hundred were ever sold back in the day, with the remainder of the pressing being, gasp, melted down to be recycled into other LPs!

So, here it is, artist Joakim Skogsberg's lone album Jola Rota finally, officially reissued for the very first time! Our hearts went pitter pat when we found out. We first heard this when our friend Loren Chasse (of Of/Thuja/Jewelled Antler/etc. fame) floated us a cd-r burn he had gotten from a pal overseas a couple years ago, as per the scenario outlined above. He figured we'd like it, and of course he was right. What's not to like? Swedish-forest-folk hippie ritual mixed with droned-out psych guitar. Truly strange, and captivating, vocal mumble. And, get this, it was actually mostly recorded out in a forest, on portable reel-to-reel gear!! Once out of the woods, the raw recordings were overdubbed (Skogsberg being responsible for all sounds on this album) in studio, but remain quite raw, the mystery and majesty of northern landscapes, dark shadowy places, placid lakes, tall trees and moss-covered rocks utterly alive in the music of the nature-loving Skogsberg.

Side One starts off with "Jola Fran Ingbo", which introduces Joakim's unusual "Jola" singing style derived from Swedish trad folk, also heavily influenced by Buddhist chant, accompanied by staccato bowings of ominous violin. Immediately this is waaaay darker than most other Swedish folk/psych we've heard! Seriously droney and austere. That's followed by the more freaked out, rockier "Offer Rota", which finds Skogsberg singing whilst pounding away on percussion and unfurling a thick layer of distorted guitar murk, with what sounds like a Jew's Harp warbling in the background. The next piece, "Fridens Lijor", on the other hand, is an unaccompanied vocal piece, close-miced and intimate, all about Skogsberg's fragile Jola babble...

Beginning side two, "Besvarjelse Rota" builds up a dubby, bassy electronic rhythmic whomp-whomp throb beneath its damaged psych guitar wail, that (in our warped imagination) foreshadows modern minimal techno a la Chain Reaction, "heroin house" beats.... could almost be Pole jamming with Algarnas Tradgard or something! Later, the lengthy "Jola Fran Stensate" harkens back to the solemnity of the album's first track, and then "Jola Fran Leksand" winds up this unique, amazing trip with something of a pagan campfire dance piece, for folky fiddle and rattling hand percussion.

Overall, though, Jola Rota's mood is solitary and ceremonial. Skogsberg not a guru leading his followers, but rather one man, inspired, singing devotional songs to nature, in personal communion with the ancient deities of Sweden and the universe... it IS universal, probably why it sounds simultaneously like krautrock and Tibetan worship and Native American prayer-songs.

The universality of the drone, and the human voice in spiritual reverence regardless of language. At its droniest, many moments here recall Parson Sound or the aforementioned Moolah. Totally, magically mesmeric. Wow... EVERYONE who's heard this since we got it in has been entranced. And we're extra happy that not only has this been reissued, but that the reissue was done by our pal Johan's Tokyo-based Tiliqua Records (along with EM Records, one of our absolute favorite reissue labels from that part of the world, or anywhere else). Which means, it's done up deluxe, packaged in a swank miniature gatefold LP-style sleeve, and it's been remastered from the original tapes with the help of Skogsberg himself. There's also new liner notes and previously unpublished photos of the long haired and bearded (of course) Skogsberg included. Nice! Sadly, this too is limited to a one-time pressing of only 1,000 copies... and unlike the original vinyl edition, we doubt the label will be left with any unsold copies to recycle! - Aquarius

First time official reissue of one of Sweden's greatest and sadly unknown psychedelic treasure is this sole album by Joakim Skogsberg out of 1971. Tiliqua acquired the exclusive rights to this gem and this reissue comes with a remastered sound taken directly from the original master tapes and with the kind assistance of Mr. Joakim Skogsberg himself. The album “Jola Rota” is about Joakim Skogsberg's love for the grandiose Swedish landscapes, which has put its imprint upon his songs. On “Jola Rota” Joakim single-handedly created a minimal psychedelic and acid folk masterpiece infused with incredible soundscapes of derailed fuzzed out violins, soaring guitars, rattling hand percussion, droning vocals and pulsating bass rhythms, complimented by Joakim's “jolor”, a special singing style with roots in an ancient Swedish tradition of folk music.

The album was for the most part recorded out in the woods, with a portable Nagra-reel-to-reel-tape recorder and a simple Philips-cassette recorder. Upon completion it was suggested for the album to appear on Gump Records, a subsidiary of Metronome. The reason was that the music was just too underground and weird to be in Metronome's register. Apart from Joakim's original recordings, some overdubs and effects were done in the studio during the autumn of 1971. - Tiliqua

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