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Parson Sound

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. ~ Rolf Semprebon, Rovi
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