Verbal Brainwash and Other Works by Åke Hodell

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Åke Hodell | Verbal Brainwash and Other Works
Fylkingen Records (3xCD/DL)

Åke Björnsson Hodell (1919-2000) was a Swedish poet, author, text-sound composer, and visual artist. He was also trained as fighter pilot, but after a crash during a practice flight (1941) and few years of hospitalization, he became a dedicated anti-militarist; something very apparent in his work, especially his earlier pieces. He began experimenting with what he called “elektronismer” (later “text-sound composition”), a blend of sound collage, spoken word, recorded radio plays and musique concrete, based on narratives and their electronic editing/process. His collaboration with the music department of Sveriges Radio (Swedish Radio) is a sonic landmark, fortunately captured in full.

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Legendary Swedish label Fylkingen Records released this material back in 2000, as a three CD set, with all tracks remastered (this reissue to honor his 100th anniversary of Hodell’s birth). Verbal Brainwash And Other Works compiles all of Åke Hodell’s text-sound composition work, dating from 1963-1977. Very informative lines notes in Swedish and English, as well as pictures and related material are included. Curated by Mats Lindström in collaboration with Hodell himself. Remaster was overseen by Sylve Sjöberg, the engineer of Sveriges Radio who worked with Hodell back in the day.   

The work of Åke Hodell is strongly political, a life-manifesto split in pieces. His avant-garde sound collages and manipulations are in fact his own personal commentary and view about a multitude of social issues, ranging from anti-war to politics, to social and everything in between. Dadaist in form, angry, serene, playful, funny, serious, leaning with one foot to early 20th century futurists and to the contemporary avant-garde with the other. Rhythmic in every sense of the term and with total absence of musical instruments. The repetition of cited words, phrases and sounds is what creates the rhythm and even more, a new form of experimental music! Getting deeper and deeper, the 29 tracks combined together, are forging a complete sound sculpture with many listening “angles”. Each track is beautifully crafted out of minimal and basic elements, but the message (artistic and other) is maximal to the very extent.

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Literally this is a gem, a life-time work and the legacy of one of the pioneers of experimental music. It is not easy listening, in fact you have to invest time and effort to delve in it, but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with a sincere and complete work of art!

 

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