Asbjørnsen - Scented Gardens Of The Mind

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You have just acquired a detailed guide book covering the music of most regions of Europe. In combination with "Tapestry Of Delights" and "Cosmic Dreams At Play" you will now have a virtually complete overview of progressive rock and related music in the whole of Europe, from the end of the sixties to the end of the seventies. Many of the artists are very obscure and have never appeared before in English language encyclopaedias. The majority of the artists featured herein are not household names even in their various homelands. My aim is to help you discover some musical treasures. This book is written by a record collector for record collectors.

The purpose of this book is

To provide an encyclopaedic guide for record buyers and collectors to various sub-genres of rock (progressive rock, jazz- rock, psychedelic rock, blues-rock and folk-rock) in Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Iceland, Denmark (with Greenland), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia), Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Yugoslavia) and Greece between 1968 and 1980. These time limits aren't followed too strictly - I have included a few earlier and later entries which I find of particular interest, particularly from East European countries (although a lot more could be added). My goal is to provide you with as many detailed line-ups as possible and to give an objective view on relevant albums.

The remit of this book

Each section is essentially confined to artists born in the country concerned. To qualify for inclusion in this book artists must have made at least one LP. Mainstream pop-rock artists are usually omitted.

How to use this book

Owners of other Borderline publications will be broadly familiar with the layout of this book. All bands and solo artists appear in alphabetical order. When line- ups of two or more recordings are different, the personnel information indicates this. For instance, "(4-6)" after the name of a band member means that this particular musician contributed to the 4th 5th and 6th recording listed in the entry's discography.

Album / CD re-issue information

Quite comprehensive details are given where albums have been reissued or pirated on vinyl and CD.

The birth of rock

"Rock" is a powerful form of popular music invented by post-World War II society. In the beginning most people, particularly those already past thirty, saw it as a provocative hybrid of white people's folk and country and black people's rhythm and blues. The Beatles proved ten years later that a mixture of black and white music could be magic - popular music as timeless as any recording from the well- respected musical genres, such as jazz and classical music. Since The Beatles reached their creative zenith (circa 1966- 67), countless other rock artists have stretched the genre's boundaries towards jazz and classical music (and also folk music), with varying degrees of success. This approach was fashionable particularly during the period 1968-1980.

1968-1980 - the golden years of international rock (dreams, nightmares and high ambitions)

The continued development of rock was dependent on new technology, the further development of electrically amplified instruments and, some years later, the development of multi-track tape recording techniques. 1968-1980 represent the earliest years of advanced sound manipulations in recorded music. The gradual upgrading from 2 to 4, 8, 16, 24 or more tracks offered new revolutionary possibilities for overdubbing and re- recording. Electronic devices such as fuzz and wah-wah pedals would now alter the "natural" sounds of electric guitar, organ and various other instruments. The studio became a playground for imaginative musicians to explore.

These artists belonged to one of the few generations in European history to experience a cold war rather than actual conflict. The 1960's and 1970's marked a hitherto unsurpassed growth in the standard of living, freedom and knowledge (though not much in Eastern Europe, unfortunately). The re-introduction of hallucinogenic drugs to Western society also influenced the development of music. It was the era of the inner revolution - a revolution in the head, as Ian MacDonald describes it in a book about The Beatles and the sixties.

In various regions of Europe, musicians let elements from their local culture be reflected in their music. These influences range from musical preferences through to art, literacy, philosophy, language, politics, history and everyday culture You would need a large encyclopaedia indeed to study the underlying background of European culture(s). However, even years of such study would not make it much easier to generalise about regional characteristics. What one considers as typical for French music will only be a subjective view If you translate a song with Italian lyrics into Finnish, some might describe the result as "typical Finnish music with a 'forest' feeling". However, there is some distance between local traditional folk music and local mainstream pop-rock (influenced by the most successful Anglo-American artists). There is also some distance between jazz (often expressive and improvisational) and classical music (often very formally structured). Yet the artists mentioned in this book are defined by these four musical dimensions (although in academic circles only the latter two are treated as serious music). Ultimately, points of origin are irrelevant.

"Popular music" was taken far more seriously by both its performers and their public during these golden years. The development of an original artistic sound was essential in those times of self- realisation. More often than not, the record companies approved and applauded innovative approaches. They were simply eager to supply a "product" that was in demand. Even in the heavily restricted and censored countries of Eastern Europe a lot of great music was produced (although only Yugoslavia tolerated loud rock at the time).

Nowadays, the music industry is owned by a handful of multi-faceted international corporations. Popular music is advertised on TV commercials and has to compete with an increasing choice of other types of entertainment. Most record buying consumers are not seriously interested in music but fashion and what is deemed to be cool. It has never been easier to market banal pop music to uncritical customers, although a lot of independent record companies do still exist. The total number of new album releases is much greater now than it was 30 years ago. Consequently, the number of interesting releases is actually larger than ever before. However, a major change is that innovative music of today never became a mass phenomenon but remained underground phenomenon restricted to various subcultures. The download of music via internet will allow for even more flexibility. Record companies might soon be reduced to being merely merchants of the latest fashion for the teenagers and various box sets by faded superstars for adults.

There are still many good reasons to look back to the seventies other than nostalgia. A lot of the music made by the artists in this book is versatile, timeless and original (created by real musicians, not by computers) and it frequently crosses the borders between serious and frivolous music. The definition of "progressive rock" has been the subject of irksome debate for years. The term "progressive" has something to do with development. Not all progression is good progression. Any judgements are relative. Simple music can be more gripping than the most complex large scale work without becoming banal. I don't like the Wagners very much as I usually search for sincere, powerful music which reaches more spiritual levels. High intellectual ambitions and technical ability don't help much if stripped of a sympathetic attitude, personality and soul. In common with most readers, I listen a lot to other musical genres as well as progressive rock, including classical music from the last 1,000 years, folk, jazz, soul, funk, experimental music, ambient techno and even easy listening. This book documents an important but often neglected part of European cultural history, seldom supported by any governments or their cultural institutions. This is the REAL European contemporary music of the years 1968-1980.

Credits and acknowledgements

More than five years have passed since I started working on this project. Many people have contributed with valuable information. Without their input, this work would not be possible:

Also thanks to Vernon Joynson and Hugh MacLean for their excellent editorial work and also for their belief in this ambitious project.

Sleeve artwork designed by the author and Anne Hedvig Holt. She can make you any kind of artwork, poster or advertisement, just enquire! A wide range of original art (acryl paintings, prints, etc.) is also available. Please contact A. H. Holt c/o the author's address to receive a catalogue.

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Please feel free to suggest additions and corrections or simply send your comments. I also work with album releases so please submit your demo tapes. Other record companies are invited to send me promotional copies of relevant releases.

Contact address:
Dag Erik Asbjørnsen
Randsborggata 19

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