Sagor & Swing: Orgelplaneten

Orgelplaneten (The Organ Planet) is apparently the final album from Sagor & Swing (Hammond organist Eric Malmberg and drummer Ulf Möller) but you'd never know it by the joyous and effervescent music on display here, a noticeable contrast from the melancholy, subdued sound of its previous three recordings. That it's a swan song is also surprising given the moog and accordion playing that's been newly added to flesh out the group's sound. The album's loud and bursting with energy, with “Baklängesvisa,” a sombre dirge reminiscent of melancholy church music, a single calm interlude. Elsewhere, the group plays with an almost reckless abandon. The songs teem with imagination, both stylistic and melodic, as the tracks incorporate Swedish folk traces, pop, R&B, soul, blues, and even reggae (“Smedjebacken By Night,” with its skanky dub rhythm, reggae-tinged organ accents, and warbling moogs). The boisterous drums and joyous, ‘60s organ playing of “Henriks födelsedagsmelodi” establish the playful mood at the outset, followed in quick succession by the jaunty shuffle romp of “Äventyr i alperna” and the barrelhouse drums and organ shimmer of “Rymden på 50-talet.” By the time the ‘60s soul-swing of “Distro” appears, you'll find yourself wondering how only two musicians can conjure such a dense wail. “Idiom” ends the set with Malmberg's bluesy flourishes alongside Möller's classic double-time R&B beats and manic breaks. Throughout the disc, Booker T. and Jimmy Smith naturally spring to mind as organist antecedents, with Malmberg's playing often exuding the soulfulness of the former and the free-spirited improvisatory flair of the latter. In this era of advanced digital electronics, it's surprising that an organ-drums combo like Sagor & Swing even exists (or did exist, I suppose) but the earnest and straightforward simplicity of the sound is certainly part of its charm. But anyone who dares think of Orgelplaneten as some exercise in nostalgia will quickly retire that thought when confronted by the duo's ferocious attack.

August 2004