International Harvester, Sov Gott-Rose Marie (Love, 1969)

For the majority of us, lesser known Swedish
psychedelic act Parson Sound was unheard of until a compilation of their
recordings was re-released in 2001 by Subliminal. Since that time, their
output has garnered a lot of well earned praise and seriously influenced
the course of modern psychedelic/experimental music. They even got the
reissue treatment again this year on a deluxe 3xLP release that sold out
extremely fast.

International Harvester, Sov Gott-Rose Marie (1968, Love)

International Harvester, Sov Gott-Rose Marie (1968, Love)

Indeed, the members of Parson Sound were playing krautrock before krautrock
was invented, and mixing into their own pastoral/communal Swedish roots a
free jazz ethos, the droning minimalism coming out of late 1960s New York,
and Terry Riley’s new forays into loops. As their sound refined, they
renamed their band International Harvester. From that point forward they
branched out into new musical outfits, some of the musicians sticking
around, others taking part in new projects. Of all these collaborations and
versions, International Harvester’s Sov Gott-Rose Marie remains the most
fully realized true LP.

The album opens with extremely ominous horns droning over ambient
recordings of the bands natural surroundings in rural Sweden. The contrast
between the light natural sounds and the man-made darkness immediately
present International Harvester’s vision of the dichotomy of man and nature
and their coexistence. Much of the first side is shorter tracks, ranging
from freaked out prog-rockers to super-fried folk jaunts. The music also
possesses a lot of languorous movements in short time frames. It is very
much an exercise in head nodding trance, while the communal chanting and
percussion are a direct channel to newer bands that work in that medium of
adding small nuances to evolving repetition.

International Harvester’s version of catharsis can come through tightly
wound melody that builds out of nothingness, or simple grooves descending
into absolute chaos. The inclusion of various woodwind/brass instruments
takes it to a place beyond basic psych rock, blending folk and jazz
elements into the progressive, almost other-worldly atmospheres and jams.

The longer tracks are the album's most surreal and awe inspiring. All of
the elements I have described above have room to breathe and fuse together,
often over a Mo Tucker style drum machine rhythm that pushes forward as
everything around goes from tight-wound to absolutely free. More drone is
also incorporated, as the longer track time allows for more atmospherics,
giving a blend of oppressive and light feelings. When the drums aren’t
pushing everything forward, the pulsing horns do the heavy lifting, with
moments of guitar work taking center stage and hitting peaks of unreal jam
ecstasy. If you are even remotely into any kind of freak-folk, dark forest
psychedelia or communal improvisation in general and haven’t heard Parson
Sound/International Harvester, go do so now!

-Hermione Marquis


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