Wednesday, 6 May 2009

IN THE FOREST (Continental Soul Searchers 1989/1993)

I got to know S.T. Mikael back in the city where I grew up. He was into psychedelia and progressive music long before it became fashionably retro to like it, and as a musician he had a bit of reputation already then. Later on, he became a cult legend on the burgeoning neo psych scene heralding obscure outsider private pressings.

I've said it so many times before, but I will repeat it until the day I die: Without S.T. Mikael and his influence on me, I would never have gotten into music making the way I did. He taught me courage and playing with him in the loosely held duo Continental Soul Searchers was a marvellous experience; his ability to improvise melodies amazes me to this day. His influence on me is unmeasurable. My debt to him is eternal.

My musical mentor Mikael.

We never sat down and said, hey let's start a folk psych duo. Nor did we say, alright let's call it a day. Continental Soul Searchers (who never used a "the" before the name by the way) never existed and always existed at the same time. Continental Soul Searchers existed when we happened to be in the same room at the same time with an instrument within reach.

The first recordings of ours were primitive tapes made at home. We would jam, I would play, Mikael would sing, and from the material we improvised, we later extracted ideas and worked them into songs. Sometimes we brought in songs we had written on beforehand. Eventually we booked the countryside studio run by one of Sweden's stellar art rock musicians, Lars "Lach'n" Jonsson. We recorded most of the 40 minute master tape in a day, with Lach'n adding cello and violin where appropriate.

Half of the "In The Forest" album is culled from these 1989 sessions, with highlights from a later session added. Those later 1993 songs defied the geographical distance between me and Mikael - I had moved to Gothenburg, and Mikael resided in Stockholm, and as this happened in the days before the internet, I sent him the tapes by mail, and he overdubbed vocals and tablas.

I'm sure I'll always have a certain fondness for these recordings. The early tracks in particular have a spirit that is free, exploring, playful. The atmosphere and the ambience of these songs still inspire me. And so does Mikael, who forever will remain one of the most important and influential persons in my life.



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