Friday, March 17, 2006

Darxtar - Darxtar (1991)

The scene is a scrubby second hand vinyl shop in Stockholm, 1989. K.Soren Bengtsson is hoovering the shelfs as usual, in search of that missing piece in his Hawkwind collection. This particular time he is confronted with a stranger who appears to be a Hawkfan as well (used to be a rare bird in Sweden). The usual conversation is soon sidetracked into their own musical activities, and Bengtsson reveals he's a guitarist/singer and is writing material for a cassette release on Acid Tapes. The stranger turns out to be called Juba (real name Juha Nurmenniemi) and he plays the bass in a local Led Zep type band, but is keen to return to the space-rock domain. They exchange numbers, but nothing comes out of it until they run into each other in Oxford Street, London on the way to a Hawkwind concert. Bengtsson finds it exciting to meet a fellow space-rock fan that is a musician as well, and he invites Juba to join in on his cassette project that already is partially recorded. Change of scenery; Studio terra, at the time Bengtsson's hobby room. Equipped with a Tascam 246 porta studio, his trusty old Atari 1040stfm computer, some cheap synthesisers and various effects boxes. This is where he recorded a personal tribute to the late Robert Calvert of Hawkwind, a recording that lead to a request from Steve Lines' Acid Tapes in UK. Steve, a Hawkfan as well, liked the tribute tape and asked for an
album length recording to be featured on his label. Bengtsson was well prepared since plenty of material was ready to be taped and by the time Juba joined him, most of the hard work was done. That meant trying to program the computer to play drums while being a useless drummer. He actually didn't have a clue how to do it, as can be clearly heard on this release, but somehow managed to make it work anyway... Juba had a couple of songs with him that would fit in nicely, and an agreement was made that if something wasn't working after three retakes, they'd scrap it, or keep it as it was to keep the recording fresh and alive. When it eventually was ready for release, they were already deeply involved in their next project. A more carefully prepared visit to the darkest regions of space. The Acid Tape was released in January 1991 and was mainly noticed in the underground psychedelic magazines like Ptolemaic Terrascope, Unhinged, Crohinga Well etc. Above you can see the original cassette sleeve, made on that beloved Atari. During the recording of what was to become Darker in july 1991, Bengtsson received a letter from SPM/WWR in Germany, to whom he had sent one of the original Acid Tapes. SPM was into releasing lots of obscure psychedelic 70's stuff, and thought the darXtar tape was well suited to be featured on the label. And so, in december 1991, it was a fact. That simple home recording apparently had the musical strength to make it on to a CD, despite all its flaws. We also have to mention the credits in the CD sleeve. To come from nothing and suddenly be released on CD is a big step, and they both found it comfortable to hide behind an alias, hence the Commander and Captain titles. Unfortunately, SPM thought it was a brilliant idea to skip the track index and let the whole CD run as one long sequence, as it should be heard that way.

Recorded at studio terra in 1990. To say the least, a highly unexpected CD release, and a genuine ugly duckling story. Home-made cassette recording with no ambitions turns to shiny 5" plastic disc and conquers the world! Well not really, but at least it had some impact on the underground psychedelic movement that was rising in Europe at the time. This pair of Swedish freaks apparently had something going that appealed to this community; No nonsense down to earth space rock 70's style! Doesn't raise an eyebrow today, but in the wake of the 80's polished heavy metal wave, this release, and similar low budget psychedelic projects, was seen as a revelation to many a hibernated hippie.



Anonymous said...


What a surprise to find this one here. Among all the "big" psychedelic bands you have on your site. Nice,


Anonymous said...

Your missing about 6 tracks on this one, unless thats what you meant?