It is almost a standard opening paragraph about how strong the Swedish ‘psych’ music scene is at the moment, but when you have a list of bands that includes Hills, Goat, Les Big Byrd, The Janitors, Yuri Gagarin, and numerous groups on labels such as PNKSLM it is not something that can really be ignored. I could go on but this post isn’t about them or how many of them I can think of, rather it is to say that the home of (International) Harvester seems to be an almost exhaustible progenitor of amazing freaky music.
I now need to add Sweden/London based Flowers Must Die (named after the Ash Ra Temple track) to this list. I have been listening to a couple of the band’s tracks for a while now ever since I scored a single off Rickard from the band at the Liverpool Psych Fest, one of several slabs of vinyl that are currently available (see the band’s Discogs page for a fully list of available releases). This 7″, released on Rundgang Records, and available here and, considering that it is on such a small disc, the lead track, ‘Psykjunta’, represents a thorough exploration of space and krautrock themes with an strong motorik beat driving a seductive trance-like melody. Talking about the release Rickard told me:
“The 7″ is released by Rundgång Rekords, which is also a record store in Malmo and one of the best record stores in Sweden. Its a place where you can visit at any time and always meet some other friends, its a spot where you hang around as much as you talk and buy records. The label have released a bunch of records, with everything from Post Punk to Indie Pop and Synth, mostly local acts. The track Psykjunta is pretty old, we recorded it 2010 or 2011 and it was just a sound test and testing the equipment, so we never thought so much about the recording. But when the festival Psykjunta did there first year, in 2013, they asked all the artists participating at that years festival to contribute with one exclusive track for a compilation tape. Dennis from Rundgång Rekords thought that track was the best on the tape and we started to talk about releasing it. Jonas one of the guitarists didnt play on the original recording so he added some guitars, and we cut it down to 6 minute. The track got the name ‘Psykjunta’ in honour to the festival.”
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The b-side has much more of a loose feel to it, and this was borne out by what Rickard told me about the track (although I have to say it is not as poorly recorded as he makes out) which for me it is a great listen something which I find that I can easily lose myself in and I would love to hear the longer version. It is very much in the direction of Pärson Sound, a common influence with such as Hills:
“The other track is recorded poorly in the drummer Lars art studio, and this is a excerpt from a long jam. After we finished the jam we called it Pärson Sound song, both because the loose jam and the raw quality of the recording. So the title “Pärsonligt Söund” is a play with words and also a honour to one of Sweden’s best artists.”
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This single is still available but is only a pressing of 300 so it is not going to be around for ever, and even the cover art has a story to it:
“The cover art is done by me and my brother Martin who is also the bassist in the band, the front is a beautiful linoleum cut and the back is drawn by me. The two labels are two decoration plates that was hanging on a wall in a countryhouse where we recorded some material 2014. The owl and the wolf are also the two animals that Danilo Stankovic used when creating our T-shirt, so we felt this was a nice coincidence.”
In addition Flowers Must Die also have a two track 12″ picture disc out. Released earlier in 2015 on “Hoga Nord records” this is a couple of jams, again reminiscent of the fine Swedish psychedelic tradition, and once again reminds me of Hills, and especially of the most recent ‘Frid’ album (review here). Explaining the release Rickard says:
“[The] 12” is released on Höga Nord, the label based in Gothenburg/Sweden and that has got international “fame” from releasing records by Les Big Byrd, Uran GBG and now latest the Al Lover record. Its a picture disc with two long tracks, both pretty old, one recorded around 2011 and the other 2012. “Montana” is a song we have played live many times but never really recorded properly or good enough, we thought the same about this take, but after listening to it and added some more instruments we noticed it was a taker! The name comes from the guitar Jonas uses here, a Hanna Montana guitar, that has almost a middle eastern tuning.”
Indeed it does, giving the track a wonderfully esoteric feel that helps you totally lose yourself in the music which at the same time seems to go on forever, yet is over in a blink of the third eye. This is a really amazing track that feels simple but actually has a lot going on it is when you really listen to it. Well work a listen.
The second track of this combination seems somehow familiar, as Rickard explained to me:
“Nusrat” is as you can hear a honour or even a cover of a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song, It wasnt supposed to be named like that, it was only our working title, but we forgot to change that when sending over the material. We had recorded it in a long 25 min version and thought that one was better, trying to add handclap but it just sounded bad, so then we went back to this earlier recording and realise this was a better version. We hadn’t cared about it so much because it was missing the lead guitar so when Sven added that one the song was also a taker!”
It certainly is. Again it has a wonderfully esoteric Eastern feel that is both captivating and has a wonderful drone-like hum that, again, encourages the listener to participate in the sonic experience as a co-conspiritor. If anything I think that this is my favourite track of the four that is covered here, and unfortunately the only one that I could not find a public recording of. Never mind, it is still available from Hoga Nord Records, but is a limited 299 pressing.
It has been really good to catch up with Flowers Must Die’s more recent releases. It is a band that seems to be very much a product of the great Swedish psychedelic tradition producing well put together yet improvised music that I find to be a very satisfactory contemporary exponent of that which has gone before. If I had to place the band in the current Swedish scene Hills would probably be Flowers Must Die’s closest musical compadres but are most definitely not in the shadow of that great band and worthy of their own place.
You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here.