A Different Nature on 01/02/11

A Different Nature
Air date: 
Sun, 01/02/2011 - 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Short Description: 
Terry Riley's OLSON III, Parson Sound, and International Harvester

Tonight on A DIFFERENT NATURE: for most of the first hour we will listen to one of my all-time favoire peices by composer Terry Riley, OLSON III. Then, we'll hear from the PARSON SOUND and INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER, two Swedish groups that share many same members, who also worked with Riley during his visit to Sweden at the time Olson III was recorded. Their music was heavily influinced by Riley, and takes his drone minimalism into a a wild psychedelic rock trip.

"A piece of unrelenting intensity, Olson III may be one of the most powerful compositions from minimalist composer Terry Riley. Based on the same phasing principals of In C, Olson III is filled with short motives that each ensemble member must play and repeat before moving onto the next. A chorus singing "To begin" joins into the droning fray of string instruments, sawing away à la In C. For 53 minutes here, Riley (on soprano saxophone) and a teenage student orchestra at the Nacka School of Music in Sweden take this concept to the limit. Riley refused to conduct the piece, insisting that the students listen to each other and find their pace without a leader. The result is a performance filled with its own ramshackle power. Olson III moves like a runaway freight train but the listener never forgets the human element. Ebbing and flowing organically as musicians tire and find their voice, the piece is accentuated by Riley's bleats occasional poking through the fold. Someone (something?) shrieks at the 45-minute mark. No matter. You're left to guess: is this audience agony or ecstasy?"

From Allmusic guide:

"Parson Sound was one of the earliest and most radical experimental rock bands of Sweden and the nucleus of a lineup that went on to become International Harvester, Harvester, and eventually, Trad Gras Och Stenar. With their expansive intake of styles as diverse as West Coast psychedelic music and the Velvet Underground's minimalism while still retaining a hint of their Swedish roots, Parson Sound created an unusual sound similar to early Krautrock, though predating its beginning by a year. The group began in Stockholm in the spring of 1967 shortly after a visit to Sweden by minimalist composer Terry Riley to perform his classic "In C," as well as a new work with Swedish school children called "Olson III." Guitarist Bo Anders Persson, a student at the Royal Academy of Music who had already experimented with tape music, participated in the "In C" and was deeply inspired by Riley's open-minded aesthetic in contrast to the stifling atmosphere of the university. Persson started Parson Sound as a free improvisational group with cello player Arne Ericsson, also from the Academy; bassist Torbjörn Abelli, a music student at the University of Stockholm; and radio journalist and poet Thomas Tidholm, who met Persson while working on an article. Thomas Mera Gartz, previously the drummer for the psychedelic beat group Mecki Mark Men, soon joined the group and in the next year, others came and went in the loose collective, including Urban Yman, Bengt Berger, Bjorn Fredholm, and Kjell Westling. By summer 1967, Parson Sound was performing before audiences in cafés, clubs, and festivals and they also gigged a couple times on Swedish radio in September and December of that year. Parson's repetitive and hypnotic riffs were quite similar in sound to the Velvet Underground in its more improvised phase, so it was only fitting that in February 1968 they were part of an Andy Warhol exhibit at Stockholm's Museum of Modern Art. Eventually, the group coalesced around Persson, Abelli, Tidholm, Ericsson, and Yman and by summer 1968, they had changed their name to International Harvester to further refine their sound. This group would eventually become Trad Gras Och Stenar, while several of Parson's alum went on to another progressive experimental group, Arbete Och Fritid."



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