RF an myself have known each other since 1968, when we met in our home neighbourhood Västra Frölunda, Gothenburg. We listened to everything; Perotinus heavenly choirs from the 13th century, Messiens heavy works for orchestra, Beefhearts “Safe as Milk”, with it´s surreal lyrics, King Crimsons endless string of chords, the beautiful acoustic Third Ear Band, Terry Rileys minimalism and above all the psychedelic music of early Pink Floyd.
Sometimes we played our “dägga-däng-music”, crazy rythmical plays with acoustic guitars and hysterical giggles.
Sometimes we just sat and listened to the sounds slowly disapearing into space.
Sometimes we went into town and went to the Cue Club or Avenue 18. On the forth floor we had made us a club which became a hangout for all serious nutheads in town. It was there we met Andreas and Dennis. At Burgårdens Highschool RF met Mikael, who played with Sebastian and how everything came about, we started to play together all of us. We used to sit in RF’s flat in Masthugget with guitars, violins, sitars and tablas and improvised.
Our first public concert was made around X-mas 1969 at Hagahouse in Gothenburg. At that time we called ourselves “Innerst Inne” (Inside Within). Mikaels then 9 years old sister red from “The Artificial Paradise” by Baudelaire. During the spring of 1970 we got ourselves a rehearsal room in Haga and could be sitting for hours and play simple repetative melodies. “Two hours over two blue mountains with a coocoo on each side, of the hours, that is”. It was a collective creating that I think was unique. We listened to eachother and played with tones. We did not call ourselves musicians, we created music out of feelings. We experimented with getting strange sounds out of our instruments, started to use amplifiers and played with echoes. We went so far we even drank tea with echoeffects.
RF had built a couple of tone generators, painted in a psychedelic way. We constantly expanded our possibilities to get new sounds, with organs, mouthharps and pedals. At that time Dennis played the drums with the band “All these blues” and was, in our opinion, really cruel at it. He wanted to be a member of Älgarnas Trädgård and the band was finally getting its shape. From the fall of 1970 and to the Gärdetfest 1971, we did a number of concerts at the basement of Hagahuset, which was decorated with mural paintings by RF. These concerts were kind of musical installations, where the tones got their inspiration from paintings by Hieronymus Bosch. We were ridiculously interested in the pictures from early renaissance, the more madonnas the better. Sebastian and I went down to Brughes and played monks. I wrote long poems about “the middleage galaxy”. Jeezus, how young and poetic we were!
And that is how we looked when we came to the Gärdetsfest in Stockholm 1971 to play, dressed in middleage clothes, unbeleivingly long hair and our heads turned towards new worlds. We discovered that in Stockholm there were a lot of other bands trying to explore and develope new kinds of music, that there was a movement going on.
And that was not all. Silence wanted to release a record with us! This was really cool! Imagine a bunch of experimental 16-20 years old kids who are about to make a record, in a real studio. Now we wanted to do our “Sgt Pepper”. After all these years you can clearly hear that we wanted to try everything. We got our hands on the first Moog modulesystem that just about had reached Sweden. We mixed middleage instruments as zinks and rebecs, soundeffects, churchbells, fragments of both Bach and Beatles and improvised our way through the first album. It can be added to the story that we lived and slept in the studio and Torbjörn who was engineering worked around the clock. “The future is a hovering ship anchored in the past” as the record was named, was nominated for a Grammy award. One thing though was a pity, we did not sound like that at all when playing live. ( A little consolation is that on the reissue released in 1995 there is two bonustracks from live performances).
The following two years we went touring on a lot of festivals and also made two school tours payed by the goverment cultural department. We played at all sorts of places, from dark dungeons to museums and castles. The band was now expanded with a light show, handled by “The Spotlight Kids”. We also had our own bus. Now we really had a live circus worth the name. Of course we also developed a certain skill on our instruments, so when the time came to record a second album, the music was more structured, heavier and electric. The political climat was hardening and the polarisation between us and some of the political wings made us bad treated by some of the organisations and clubs that were supposed to support progressive and anti commercial music. They thought our purpose, “to broaden the experience of the audience” was not enough to get entrance to their club. We got a lot of harsch words on the town. “Some people are prepared to trade their common sense for 5 sorts of sandwiches”, as RF put it. We searched for a house in the country where we could have a giant artists community. We dreamt of a circus.
During the recordings of the second album the band started to fall apart, both musically and socially. I became a father in 1973 and wanted to stay at home with my family, Dennis developed an interest for Indian religion and meditation, Andreas wanted to develope the acoustic side of the music. It was a natural thing that there was a collision; one side wanted to tour and play rock and the other side wanted to take steps further into the minimalistic boarderlines of music. “I think we can take the tapeloop from the end of “Min barndoms träd” and put it on one whole side of the album” was my opinion then. So when we mixed the record we decided to close down the band with the result that the record was never released. RF and Sebastian moved to Stockholm and started to play with “Fläsket Brinner” (The flesh is burning). Dennis played in the jazzgroup “Mwendo Dawa”. Me, Andreas and Mikael made some concerts in 1975-76 under the name of Älgarnas Trädgård. Then I moved to the island Öland and the elks were history.
When “The future” was to be reissued on CD in 1995, the thought was awakened to finish the second unfinished record. After some discussions to and fro RF and I went to Silence Studio in Koppom in May 2001 and together with Anders Lind we finally mixed the record. Here it is 27 years delayed.
P.S RF’s real name is Jan Ternald.
From my point of view 2001-11-01
Dan Söderqvist (former guitarist in Älgarnas Trädgård)
Facts – Älgarnas Trädgård (Garden of the elks) 1969 -1976
Members and main instruments (1974)
Andreas Brandt: violin
Mikael Johansson: bass
Dennis Lundh: drums
Dan Söderqvist: guitar
Jan Ternald: keyboards
Sebastian Öberg: cello
Where are they now?
Andreas is a musician in “Hoffmans” and different theatre projects.
Mikael is a musical teacher and musician in “De vandrande kvinterna”.
Dennis died in cancer 1980.
Dan is a musician and composer in Twice A Man.
Jan travelled a couple of rounds around the world and is now working with 3D graphics.
Sebastian is a musician and composer in Flesh Quartet.
Ulf Mårtensson; drums spring 1971
Christer Öhman: drums, guitar and vocals now and then 1973-74
Kjell Karlgren: saxophone 1976
Sverre Götberg: drums 1976
The Spotlight Kids: BP (Björn Persson), Kenneth Gidzinky, Bernt Skovdal.
LP 1972 : The future is a hovering ship anchored in the past
LP 1974 : recordings of the unfinished album.
CD 1995: The future is a hovering ship anchored in the past reissue including two live bonus tracks from 1972.
CD 2001 : Delayed the unfinished album now finally released.