As the group nears its 50th anniversary, Träd, Gräs och Stenar brings heavy and hypnotic rock to its brand new album.
Träd, Gräs och Stenar has made music off and on in various incarnations since 1969. Time and memory add heft to Tack för Kaffet (So Long), the group’s latest album of improvisational psych-rock, making it a fittingly weighty tribute to the seasoned band’s career so far.
Certainly, the years have taken a toll on the band; members have come and gone, and in both 2010 and 2012, founding members of the group passed away unexpectedly. Their work still appears on Tack för Kaffet, though, as do contributions from all surviving members of the group, past and present. When they all join together, it’s a seismic event.
20-minute opener "E moll Slow" gets the album off to a smoldering start. Harsh and hypnotic are the hallmarks of the group’s sound, and the jagged guitars that growl over the course of the track create a constantly crashing ice floe, while slow, rolling drum beats make shallow, constant waves. There isn’t a certain direction for the group’s particular style of music; it spreads and grows organically as each instrument plays off the others, and the group revels in its expanding sea of noise.
Some songs are more structured. "Sorgmarschen" has a straightforward melody that expands and contracts as it weaves through the group’s jam spiral. The track’s name translates to "March of Grief", and it hits appropriately bluesy heights at its end, melancholy palpable as the last notes burn out. From there, the floodgates are open, letting the next song fill a quarter of an hour with truly expressive rock music. Everything is in motion for the rest of the album, right up until final track "Farväl" ("Farewell") closes out the record in a final dirge. Mournful, wordless vocalizations add a heartbreaking human touch.
Träd, Gräs och Stenar is a group that knows its raw side well, and on Tack för Kaffet, that rawness is used to forge a deep, instant connection to the audience. Improvisational music can easily devolve into a few guys messing around in a studio, but such is not the case with the purposeful music found here. Half a century of working together helps that, of course, but the specific shared experiences of this group clearly inform the output. Listening to the album is a catharsis, and the effect by the last track is a lot like a good, long cry: everything is released.
It bears clarifying that this is not just a tribute to good times and departed members. This is a solid album, one full of substance and good, grungy musicianship. There’s a wide range of moods and no shortage of energy as the band hits wild highs on "Kaffe med Tårta" and feels like a classic punk group on "Pengar".
If you’re a fan of Träd, Gräs och Stenar, Tack för Kaffet is essential. If you’ve never heard of them, it’s as good a place to start as any. While heavy, this is not music confined to a certain style, and as long as you’re ready to get in touch with your more difficult feelings, you’re ready for Tack för Kaffet.