Formed in New Bedford, Massachusetts by three longtime friends in the early 2000s, Elder began as a stoner rock/doom project in the vein of Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Fu Manchu. Over the course of a decade, Elder constantly re-invented themselves, blooming into one of the most unique voices in the underground: psychedelic, progressive, heavy and melodic in an inimitable way.
Elder recently released their new album, Omens. It was released via Stickman Records and is perhaps the band’s most ambitious album yet – delving into deeper, more expansive, genre-pushing territories with five tracks of progressive, heavy, psychedelically evocative glory. Elements of OM, Pink Floyd, even Mastodon and Hawkwind combine to create a truly special record.
Here, we welcome Nicholas DiSalvo (Guitar, vocals) of Elder to At The Barrier as he shares his love for the music of Bo Hansson; perhaps a lesser known figure when it comes to psychedelia.
Of all the figures to emerge from the psychedelic music scene of the 60’s, of all the bands and individuals who changed the way we perceive rock music to this day, one lesser-known Swede stands for me as the most important: Bo Hansson.
In many regards he was the antithesis to the American music hero: demure, withdrawn, and solitary, he projected little of the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll image of the Hendrixes, Paiges and Morrisons. His weapon of choice was not the electric guitar but the Hammond organ. And the output for which he is most remembered is a series of records based on fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings and Watership Down.
I was first introduced to Hansson’s music by my good friend Adrian Dexter, who has done almost all of Elder’s cover artwork and a fair amount of other pieces for the band, when I was around 16 and we were going to high school together. Lacking a musical mentor in the shape of a father or cool uncle with a great record collection, Adrian shared a lot of music with me in those days that shaped my taste, one of them being Sagen om Ringen (“Lord of the Rings”) by Bo Hansson.
At the time I was very much into metal, but I found the atmosphere of the record immediately engrossing – and the story behind it equally so. Borrowing an 8-track recorder from the Swedish national radio and retreating to an isolated island in the Stockholm archipelago, Hansson and cohorts recorded the record, which is based on its namesake. Though sparse with effects and studio tricks, the record is full of magic, made perhaps even more interesting by its lack of relation to other ‘psychedelic’ music of the era. Somewhere between progressive rock, psychedelic rock and jazz, it’s a unique piece of instrumental music that made me long as a teenager for my own musical adventures. Would I end up with a home studio on an island making my own amazing music too one day? It was fuel for creativity and ambition.
Growing up, my family and I moved around quite a bit, finally setting in a small coastal town in southeastern Massachusetts. Though the small-town isolation led to a fair amount of boredom, I always appreciated being surrounded by the woods and the water, finding nature relaxing and inspiring. Perhaps that’s why the soul of Hansson’s music resonates so deeply with me – the etherial organ, flutes, muted drums and sparse guitar work create fantastic, wide open spaces in the mind (even when sometimes punctuated by odd samba rhythms and other artifacts that haven’t aged so well). Playing in a heavy drums and organ duo in the 60’s, Hansson reached some national acclaim in the burgeoning rock scene (even jamming with Hendrix in Sweden) before going on to blaze his own unique path. Even if living in very different worlds, that’s something I can always aspire to.
Many thanks to Nicholas for his words on Hansson. Be sure to check out Elder’s latest video below, and support the band through their social links (also below).
You can read more from the Why I Love archive here.