RF and myself have known eachother since 1968, when we met in our neighborhood Västra Frölunda, Gothenburg.
We listened to everything; Perotinus’ heavenly choirs from the 13th century, Messien’s heavy works for orchestra, Beefheart’s ”Safe as Milk”, with the great delays, King Crimson’s endless string of chords, the beautiful acoustic Third Ear Band, Terry Riley’s minimalism and above all the psychedelic music of early Pink Floyd.
Sometimes we played our ”dagga-dang-music”, crazy rhythmical 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 oct 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 Burgården’s 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 held around X-mas 1969 at Hagahuset in Gothenburg. At that time we called ourselves ”Innerst Inne” (Inside within). Mikael’s, 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 repetitive melodies. ”Two hours over two blue mountains with a coo coo bird on each side, of the hours….that is”. It was a collective creating that I think is unique. We listened to each other and just played with tones. We did not call ourselves musicians, we created music out of feelings. We experimented by getting strange sounds out of our instruments, started to use amplifiers and played around with echoes. We went so far we even drank tea with echo effects.
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 btime 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 Gärdetsfest 1971, we did a number of concerts an 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 renessance, the more m.adonnas the better. Sebastian and I went down to Brügge and played monks. I wrote long poems about ”the middleage galaxy”. Jeezus, were we young and poetic!
And that is why 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 develop new kinds of music, in deed 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 records – 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 intsruments as zinks and rebecs, soundeffects, chirchbells, fragments of both Bach and Beatles and inprovised our way through the first album. We can add 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. On 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 to school tours payed by the goverments 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, handles by ”The Spotlight Kids”. We also had our own bus. Now we really had a live circus worth its 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 more 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 o 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, musically and socially. I became a dad in 1973 and wanted to stay at home with my family, Dennis developed an interest for Indian religion and meditation, Andreas wanted to develop the acoustic side of the music. It was just natural that there would be a collision; one side wanted to tour and play rock and the other side wanted to take steps further into the minimalistic borderlines of music. ”I think we can take the tape loop from the end of ”Min barndoms trod” and put it on the whole A-side of the album” was my opinion then. So when we had finished recording we decided to dissolve the band. The result of that was 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 furure…” was to be reissued on CD in 1995, the thought was awakened to finish the second unfinished record. Ofter some dicussions 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
Dan Söderqvist (former guitarist in Älgarnas Trädgård)
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 furure 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 to live bonus tracks from 1972.
CD 2001 : Delayed – the unfinished album now finally released.