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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bo Hansson: Attic Thoughts


1) Attic Thoughts; 2) Time And Space; 3) Waiting...; 4) Waltz For Interbeings; 5) Time For Great Achievements; 6) The Hybrills; 7) Rabbit Music; 8) Day And Night; 9) A Happy Prank.

For what it's worth, Attic Thoughts is little more than a second installation of Magician's Hat. Same variation of short tunes and lengthy multi-part epics, same freedom of thought and direc­tion, same unpredictability of influences — and the same quiet inobtrusiveness, making it excessively hard to remember what you have just heard, or to experience any particularly strong emotional responses. «Tastefully pretty» and «slightly moody» pretty much does it.

The album was recorded with more or less the same backing band as Hat, and this time around, released in the same year in Sweden (as Mellanväsen) and abroad. Bo's influences were again diverse and scattered, one of them being Watership Down, the weird novel about rabbits by Richard Adams — eventually, he'd devote an entire LP to this work, but for now, just one two-part suite (ʽRabbit Musicʼ) should be sufficient. However, the overall effect remains the same — that of a slightly weird, magical «other» world where, truth be told, nothing much ever happens, but then, why should anything happen? Your average magical world can be just as boring as your average non-magical one, and I suspect that this is exactly what Bo wanted to show us: a «realis­tic», «uneventful» musical universe, completely free of any pretense at «rocking».

As far as actual musical texture is concerned, of course, «uneventful» is pushing it. Many of the songs feature multiple key, tempo, and mood changes — ʽWaltz For Interbeingsʼ being the most impressive example, I suppose, where bits of genuine waltz are interspersed with fast fusion passages and something that I could only describe as Bo's futuristic preview of the lambada. All of it occupies the space of three and a half minutes; the longer compositions, like ʽRabbit Musicʼ and the title track, naturally feature even more changes. However, I would still assess them as fairly «uneventful» changes — they never radically shift the mood, or rev up the energy levels.

Nor is it all that easy to get overawed by Bo's omnivorous nature. Okay, so ʽTime For Great Achievementsʼ glues together a possible theme for a spaghetti-western with electronic psychede­lia and a little more jazz-rock, but what is the meaning of this fusion? All the individual compo­nents sound nice, and make for decent background muzak, but why is it exactly in this sequence that they should be listened to, and would the effect be diminished/spoiled if we changed it all around? I have no answer for these questions.

In the end, Attic Thoughts seems like it must have taken even more effort on Bo's part than Hat (more ideas, more movements, more influences), but the lack of focus stays the same, and once again, I am a little sad that he did not use any single piece as a chief influence — Lord Of The Rings, with its conceptual organization, made a little more sense than this disjointed, messy, tepid collection of «snippets», inoffensive as it is. Nevertheless, this is perfect «progressive elevator muzak», and I do not regret even one second of listening — I only wish I had something more meaningful to say about it, but I don't, and apparently, neither does anybody else (most of the reviews of this album that I'd browsed through made zero sense as well).

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