Sweden’s fruitful psych scene has long been lauded at Liverpool Psych Fest, with Goat and Dungen taking up prominent positions on previous year’s line-ups, along with a host of others. Draw a line back far enough from both of those acts and you reach TRÄD, GRÄS OCH STENÄR, the forefathers of Swedish underground rock music.
Forming in the late 1960s and rising to notoriety in the 70s, the band were luminaries of the DIY scene. Translating as ‘Trees, Grass and Stones’, the Swedish collective were established from the embers of several leading underground Swedish psych bands in 1969 (Pärson Sound and International Harvester); they travelled with organic food they grew themselves and cooked for everyone they played to; they made their own instruments, amplifiers and PAs. The group would set up their instruments and PA in whichever floor or field they were booked to play and gradually tuned in to the music of the spheres. Live, the band operate in similar territory to The Velvet Underground’s or Ornette Coleman’s formula: you know the beginning and the end, but what exists between those two points is the magical improvised unknown.
Träd, Gräs Och Stenar were experts in transcendental rock music, long before venturing into mesmeric jams became popular in their field. They jammed with force and purpose for 40 minutes back when ‘legendary’ San Franciscan groups or German krautrock bands were still struggling to get out of the upper single digits. The collective perfected the art of taking the first explosive jam as a starting point for the next, embracing spontaneity as the key to great creativity. Influenced by ancient Swedish folk songs, their musical journeys would often leave the melody behind after a few verses and travel beyond time and place.
Without doubt, Träd, Gräs Och Stenar played an integral role in establishing the buoyant Swedish underground and DIY culture which flourishes today. Without Träd, Gräs Och Stenar there is no Goat, there is no Dungen. It is fitting, therefore, that Dungen’s Reine Fiske is now playing guitar with the band.
In 2017, eight years after their last record, TGS released the LP Tack För Kaffet. Consisting of work by the original members Torbjörn Abelli, Mera Gartz (both now sadly passed) and Bo Anders Persson, as well as Friske and another new recruit Sigge Krantz, the album is a farewell to the band’s ‘old’ sound. Many of the recordings found on the album were captured on tape in their music workshop out in in the countryside, and consist of the band’s hallmark mind-melting free improvisations.
Träd, Gräs Och Stenar play Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia on Friday 22nd September.
Full line-up and ticket details can be found at liverpoolpsychfest.com.