The world of '70s Swedish left-field music holds many amazing gems, and Arbete Och Fritid ranks among the best ones. This album was recorded and released in Sweden in 1973. The 2003 CD reissue on Music Network's MNW imprint adds 20 minutes of bonus material in the form of a single piece recorded by the Swedish National Radio in 1972. At this point in time, the group consisted of Tord Bengtsson, Torsten Eckerman, Bosse Skoglund, lyricist Roland Keijser, and leader/artistic mastermind Ove Karlsson. Add Bernt Berger and Kjell Westling for the session from 1972. This album showcases a profound fusion of Nordic folk, psychedelic/progressive rock, and avant-garde music. You never know what to expect next. A saxophone solo can evoke Albert Ayler (in "Ostpusten -- Västpusten"), a violin/cello duet section at the end of "Petrokemi det Kan Man Inte Bada I" brings a contemporary classical touch, while other cuts share interests with the likes of Alan Stivell, the Samla Mammas Manna, and You-era Gong. The first half of the album (side one on the original LP) consists mostly of rock-ified and freaked-out renditions of folk tunes, Nordic but also a Turkish one ("Elâzig-Dans"). Festive, they boil just enough to be innovative and wild without losing the listener. Side two is more challenging, with some style-hopping within a single track. The bonus "Ostpusten -- Västpusten" alternates between inspired space rock episodes and free jazz breaks, with a mock-Western finale -- the group pulls it out like a new Dutch swing outfit (think ICP Orchestra or Clusone Trio). Sound quality is not fantastic (some signal overload when saxophones and trumpet hit it), but this album has a lot to offer. Only three tracks have lyrics. The booklet of the reissue is very informative, but, sadly, in Swedish only.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture