Die stille Liebe… I recall a TV program in Sweden back in 1989, broadcast on 22nd October. A tremendous noise; frenzied, overwhelming, relentless… filled the homes of the eventual TV watchers… and then the composer, the enfant terrible of electronics, Rune Lindblad (1923-1991), was interviewed, much, it seemed, to his own dismay. He seemed shy but stubborn, to simplify it. I suppose he had become so accustomed, all the way from the early 1950s up to the date of the interview in the fall of 1989, to be met with such a stonewalling distrust and perhaps even worse; ignorance, that he sort of didn’t care to have his art explained on television this late in his life, or even have it broadcast, for that matter.
As the reporter triggered Lindblad, he finally got him talking about the piece they had just crashed down hard in the midst of the Swedish homes through the Trojan horses television sets; Die stille Liebe (1972). Rune Lindblad’s voice was the voice of a young man, despite his age. He said (a little edited, many of the reporter’s questions omitted, some retained, translated by me from the Swedish):
Lindblad: I have used, as sound generators, synthesizers; these old ones. I might be wrong to call them synthesizers, but they’re something in that direction. I also used a male voice talking in German. Then this has been shredded, and the sounds utilized have been fast events, splintering, contrasting. I don’t know… Die stille Liebe… well, it’s maybe parodic, or something…
They first called this kind of music organized sound and concrete music. It began in France in 1948; Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry. Now it’s more often called electroacoustic music. This stems from the Germans getting going in the 1950s with something they called electronic music. Finally they arrived with synthesizers that approached the nature of electronic sounds. It became hard to distinguish between the purely electronic music and concrete music. The term concrete music refers to the fact that the original sound came from a concrete object, like something like this (Lindblad hitting a chair), or you’re opening a door or something. The term electronic music, on the other hand, refers to generators producing sounds. Then they mixed these concepts, and to get a common term, it was called electroacoustic music; sounds that you could record concretely, to manipulate further in different ways. From the beginning, however, it was divided into two sections; electronic versus concrete.
[This was the Swedish pioneer of electronic music still trying to explain something to the uninterested crowd on television late in his life]
Reporter: So what is it one wants to achieve, people have been asking for forty years now…
Lindblad: They have!?
Reporter: Well, some have. Why can’t you use common instruments…
Lindblad: Sure you can! [I hear him getting upset] You can use regular instruments too, but this was a possibility to be able to extend the sounds, to be able to arrive at sounds that you could not produce with traditional instruments, to seek out new sound worlds, which still could express something.
Reporter: How did you yourself enter this?
Lindblad: Oh dear, must we go into that now? Ok, it started when I had been to a studio party [a painters’ party] — I went to art school too… - and I was walking back home late at night, through Slottsskogen [a park area in Gothenburg, Sweden]. I got tired and sleepy, which you tend to get when you’ve been sipping alcoholic beverages, so I lay down under some bushes close to Björngårdsvillan [a restaurant establishment]. The time was about 4 or 5 AM or something, and I drowsed off into sleep. I woke up slowly at about 8 or 9 AM from hearing the rattling of dishes and the steps of servant maids running about. It might have been a little later in the morning. I also heard dogs barking some ways off and children screaming and so forth. That is the time and the place where I got an acoustic image of a reality, which one perhaps had not considered, at least not I, and I got the sudden idea of trying to retain this moment. That is where it began.
Then I got hold of a tape recorder… no, it was an iron wire recorder, a strange machine I had at the beginning, but I don’t think it’s still around… and from there I started to work with sounds in different ways. Sometimes I had instruments, changing the sounds of them around, but most of the time I went to Chalmers University of Technology to borrow their tone generators, filters and so forth. I also used their echo chamber sometimes. That’s how it began, and it has continued all along.
I don’t know what else to say about it. I think it speaks for itself. There’s been so much gossip about this that I get angry with the lot! It seems that it’s so totally, completely impossible to acknowledge it, as music or something, as a way to experience… That’s what it’s about! Then if you want to brand it one way or another, as you want to do with everything in this country, dividing everything into parts, parts, parts, that is meaningless! The crucial thing is your experience! If you have an experience from it, then why not accept it!? It’s not always the case when you hear a piece of poetry, or a short story, or you experience a painting or something, that you have these demands on it, but you do on this, and you always have, as far as I can remember. Perhaps not now, because now, suddenly, such machines have been constructed that you are forced to accept these sound worlds, more or less. We have synthesizers, we do sample! Now we have computer music, simply, so all these machines [gesturing out into his room with all the reel-to-reels, tone generators etcetera] are museum pieces, artifacts… just like myself!
However, it was great fun once upon a time when I worked with it! The fact, then, that it has not been accepted or acknowledged, is nothing to do about. Anyway, what is accepted when it is truly new? Given enough time, it will be acknowledged.
I did a piece after Foscolo, an 18th century poet [1778 — 1827], and I did a multi-slide projection [bildspel] after another Italian; A la Luna — but that consists of pictures and sound together, where I started from poetry; the piece A la Luna, how one observed the moon before man walked on it, and how one observes it after one had been there, planting flags and all what one did. Earlier the moon was a strange phenomenon, something distant, dreamy, poetic… but since you’ve been there raising flags it didn’t retain its same character… That is an example.
Rune Lindblad called me on the telephone to inform me about the TV program. We had become acquainted a year or so earlier. I had just acquired the double CD Electroacoustic Music in Sweden on the Phono Suecia label (PSCD 41) in 1988; one of the best compilations of Swedish electroacoustics to this day. Rune Lindblad participated with a short work; Attack III. It is an amazing piece, full of frenzy, of rhythms and patterns — and of glorious noise! I was immediately attracted to the lack of politeness, the lack of polish, and to the presence of ill-witted rage. This was very different. He had utilized the beating of bumblebee wings inside contacted-miked glass jars! I regret to have to admit that this was my first encounter with Rune Lindblad. I had never heard of him before… However, after this spellbinding Attack III I managed to get hold of a vinyl on the predominantly Christian label Proprius (PROP 7749), entitled Predestination, embellished with a Lindblad woodcut covering the front of the LP case. This LP had been published in 1975, and all the way up to this Elektron double CD of 2003 it has remained the most representative of the few Lindblad releases, though Gothenburg-based label Radium 226.05 Records released an interesting double vinyl in 1988, simply called Rune Lindblad. The contents of that Radium double vinyl and the New York label Pogus Productions’ 1989 vinyl Death of the Moon (Pogus Productions 201-3) was later released on two CDs from Pogus Productions; P21011-2 and P21014-2 (1997 and 1998).
After these first treks into Lindblad Land I decided to convey my heartfelt interest in his art to himself, so I looked him up in the phone directory and wrote him a letter. He called me on the phone as soon as he received it, apparently very happy about this new conscript. I could understand from his undisguised joy that he wasn’t particularly spoiled by serious interest. I suppose he felt that now, finally, at an old age, he was beginning to get a well-deserved attention, since my approach as well as others’ approach and the new interest to release his material (albeit on underground labels), were good signs of that.
I had the opportunity to replay his Attack III on radio when I was invited by Folke Rabe to co-produce a Nya Timmen show on the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation (a radio show hosted by the composer, musician and producer Folke Rabe in the 1980s and 1990s, fulfilling art music requests from listeners).
Apparently things were going Lindblad’s way more than ever before. However, he was also getting sicker and sicker. He suffered from a ghastly case of arthritis, which was slowly but surely eating him from inside, and he was in such pain that he had to be treated with cytotoxic drugs.
A few quotes from a few of Rune Lindblad’s letters may put his situation during his last years into some perspective. First one from the earlier months of our correspondence:
And thank you for your letter, which made me very happy since you had such a high regard for the record [the Proprius LP Predestination].
Concerning Kontorslandskap [Office Landscapes], I have a continuation of it, which I will send you as soon as I can. It was a lot of fuzz during the time when that LP was to be recorded, because people in charge were very hesitant and had appointed a group of so-called specialists who were to make artistic judgments concerning the works at hand. Kontorslandskap consists of three parts, but only the first section was considered worthy of release.
When I began the work on Kontorslandskap I studied personnel as well as the environment as thoroughly as I could. I interviewed the personnel about how they perceived working in an office landscape versus in a traditional office, i.e. an office where the personnel is divided into different separate rooms, and where the chief clerk and the senior accountant and a few others had their own rooms with their names at the doors and also their titles.
In an office landscape all employees were to be treated equally, but eventually it showed that the senior accountant and some others in a managerial position maybe had a slightly larger table, a more comfortable chair etcetera.
Then I studied all office machines and all other equipment to get some idea of how it all fit together.
The employees were both positive and negative. The younger thought that the office landscape was simply great, while the older employees thought that it had been better before.
I concentrated so much on my studies that I wasn’t aware of being locked into an office landscape for the night…
When the personnel arrived the next morning, they wondered who I was. I told them that I had come a bit early to get some insight into office landscapes. I kept silent about being tired, hungry and pissed of. Of course I could have set the alarm off, but what would have happened then? I wasn’t sure about how to set it off either. Further more, I was sort of caught inside a big glass box; there was glass wherever I looked; doors of glass, walls of glass, and the whole landscape was sort of illuminated with a bleak, blue light.
The glass in doors and walls — the half high walls that were there — was completely crush proof, the chief clerk informed me. I suppose he was right.
The whole experience was eerie, especially at night with the faint buzzing of fans (?) and this ghostly blue light. That’s how it happened that time, but I survived…
I’m sending you some material that might be of interest; a 60-point essay written by an Australian guy — Bruce Kendale-Green, supervised by Zoltán Gaál - who studied at Musical Sciences [Gothenburg University] a few years ago. It was his own idea to write about my electroacoustic music produced between 1953 and 1972. It is to be continued with a second part, which he will commence shortly. He went back to Australia in 1983, but is here in Sweden again now, starting little by little with the second part.
The other booklet I’m sending you is an investigation I made in 1967 — 68, dealing with attitudes and reactions of people who listened to electroacoustic music. It’s just a short investigation, and I don’t claim anything else, but it might be of some interest.
Other documents I’m submitting, which may be the funniest in the lot today, are reviews of the first concert with electroacoustic music in Gothenburg. Since then it has gotten a bit better, but I’m still looked upon as a slightly insane figure who simply can’t give up these stupidities…
On 24th May 1989 Rune Lindblad wrote me the following letter, which tells the story very plainly about the kind of life he was forced to lead:
Heartfelt thanks for flowers and letter. I was at the hospital about a week, but got no treatment, because of the numerous tests that have to be conducted first. Perhaps I will get information about the treatment tomorrow, and if not, at least later this week — I hope…
Recently I have been — thank God! — in some measure liberated from pain, but instead I’ve been tremendously tired; a sort of total tiredness which I haven’t experienced before.
Although I experience a strange head murmur (a constant hiss in my head), I have been able to accomplish a few boring but necessary chores; I don’t know really how…
It has been completely impossible to deal with any artistic activities. I have been experiencing a kind of paralysis, impossible to fend off. A slight improvement has been detected, but for how long…?
The fatigue comes creeping on me with its slow ignorance… and I don’t give a shit about anything… That is how I feel sometimes. I hope I will get some information about my treatment soon.
I’m sorry that this letter only deals with my condition right now… but I’m still alive.
Live well, many greetings
The third and last example was sent to me on 18th September 1989:
And thanks for your letter, which arrived a few days ago. I deeply regret not writing to you for a while — but unfortunately I’ve been very ill, and recently I’ve been hospitalized at Sahlgrenska [the Sahlgren hospital in Gothenburg]. I received both cortisone and cytotoxic drugs for something that may be an inflammation of kidneys as well as joints. It started with drop injections of the aforementioned, in what the doctors called substantial dosages. It worked in the sense that the pain lifted in the joints, and perhaps the kidneys will get better too, but the treatment is going to be extended, over a year. After the drop injections I was put on cortisone pills in a slightly lowered dosage, which will be cut down gradually over time, as far as possible.
Cytotoxic drugs will probably be administered again. It all depends on how the body reacts and what later tests reveal. The treatment has deprived me of all the strength I used to have. I’m completely out of it.
In the middle of this I’ve been told to move from my apartment five stories up without an elevator to a flat lower down, which has also drained me of strength.
I may, perhaps, slowly return to life once again — but nothing is certain. Now I’m back home again with my cortisone and I am at the late stages of my moving, which has been an utter nightmare.
These are the reasons that I haven’t been writing, but better late than never, which I hope you think too.
Bye for now, live well!
Still during these hard times Lindblad saw to it that the tapes with his music kept coming from the Department of Musical Sciences, and since he was too ill to copy the reel-to-reels himself, he had asked Gert Bosshardt at Musical Sciences to do the tedious work. Mr. Bosshardt wrote me sometimes. This is part of one of the letters:
I submit six more tapes with Rune Lindblad’s music. Since Rune has a few physical problems with his rheumatism, I have done the copying (which also means that I have a legitimate reason to listen through everything he’s done).
According to his instructions I have omitted multi-slide projections [bildspel], which must be seen with the pictures.
I also submit a work list, so don’t hesitate to send me a request for further pieces. Eventual flaws [in the copying process] are consequently mine; not Rune’s. […] Please contact me for further questions. Unfortunately Rune is being admitted to hospital on 8th May, and he doesn’t know for how long. […]
Rune Lindblad sent me some press clippings from newspapers in Gothenburg back in 1957, like he said in one of the letters above. The clippings contained newspaper reviews, published 15th February 1957, of the first electroacoustic concert in Sweden, conducted 14th February of that year. I think a few quotes from them may explain the degree of stubbornness that Lindblad had to conjure up to be able to continue his artistic work.
This piece was written by a Carl Tillius in Göteborgsposten, a main Gothenburg paper:
A whole lot of musical terms were tossed about in the B-hall of Folkets Hus (The People’s House) last night when the so-called concrete music was discussed. The gentlemen Bruno Epstein and Rune Lindblad demonstrated something they considered a continuation of musical evolution in our time on their tape recording machines. It is evident that they acted in good faith and with good intentions. However, when they tried to explain their activities with a musical terminology, their verbalism became a soothing smoke screen over the noise, at which you didn’t know if you should laugh or cry…
Is it really possible that one, with various noises and percussive effects, plus a metronome and aluminum sheets, could be able to persuade a larger crowd of listeners outside of a small circle of friends that this is something that could become the music of the future?
It sounded like a recording from a carpenter’s workshop in full swing. It was called Fragment 1. You didn’t get much wiser from Epstein’s explanations either. It was said that the concrete music appeared in 1948. At that time a symphony for the lone man was written. Yes, alone he must remain, if this noise shall satisfy him and become an expression of the state of his soul. This is truly bizarre! Such manifestations will want to be avoided by most regular, normal people. They have enough noise from streets and squares.
Guido Vecchi called the concrete music a perfect kind of torture, which becomes unbearable in ten or fifteen minutes. He thought that the originator of this music strived to be seen as tough guys; a kind of leather-jacketed motorcyclists of music. It was an unconventional way of making the distinction between artistic music and the noise mentioned above.
The concluding discussion resulted in further talk about what was considered music and not. Each one defended his own viewpoint. To each his own. Those who are naïve enough to believe in noise as a means of artistic expression will continue to think that they are contributing to the betterment of humanity. Thereby they negate the most important aspect of art, as they have exchanged the human for the technical. May they dwell in their on spheres, and leave old-fashioned, traditional music be.
Another reviewer, Åke Engfeldt, wrote the following in another big Gothenburg paper (Göteborgs-Tidningen) on the same day, 15th February 1957:
Concrete music was scratched, scraped, howled and banged in Folkets Hus (The People’s House) last night, to a crowd of about forty people, of which a few attended voluntarily.
The so-called composers — the gentlemen Epstein and Lindblad - sat at the tape recording machines like two bartenders of the machine age, serving the finicky job of their hands in the luxurious packaging of shameless self-promotion. The so-called artworks were afterwards scrutinized structurally by Mr. Epstein in his analysis. He indicated interesting phenomena like ritardandi and staccaticizing, from various ways of simulating a woodpecker on a piece of sheet iron. Towards the end of his colleague Lindblad’s Satellite 60 he deciphered an increasing intensity which demanded extraordinary means of sonic expression; two aluminum staves.
That particular piece of information released a certain unwarranted merriness in the auditorium. One should consider under what harsh conditions these martyrs of the arts work, reduced, as they are, to the concrete imperfection out of reach of the true means of expression of electronic music, only attainable in the well-supplied noise-studios of Paris, Cologne and Milan. Like a consoler in dire straits Hilding Hallnäs appeared through a letter of blessings that he’d sent to the youngest generation of composers. Hallnäs’ letter contained a warning against hampering taboo conceptions, with which we westerners are at least as infested as our man-eating antipodes. Hilding Hallnäs also issued a generous plea to the powers of state and especially to Chalmers University of Technology to supply ample means for the deserving object of allowing these leather-jacketed motorcyclists of music (to quote the moderator of the discussion; Guido Vecchi) to practice their art.
This may all be in vain. One the one hand, we had heard enough already when the letter was recited, to find Hallnäs’ benevolence somewhat misguided, and on the other hand, one had failed to invite such key figures as the state auditors (and it is uncertain whether two aluminum staves would soften such hardened professionals…). […]
Sven-Eric Johansson [modern composer] had at the beginning, with customary clarity of speech, if not necessarily of thought, delivered the essential history. He drew the line between concrete music, wherein the composer starts from existing sources of sound, and electronic sounds, where he makes his sounds himself through oscillators. Our time is the inspiration, no doubt, but one does not want programmatic music, but inner expression… Here one could sense something fishy, but Sven-Eric Johansson swept this notion aside, saying that one wanted something new… […]
The came the stages; Satie’s ballet with typewriters, Honegger’s concrete etudes in Varèse’s Déserts, and the lecturer even referred to Bartók’s Sonata for Piano and Percussion as a link in the chain, which really is like spreading a smoke screen…
Folk music from India was played as an example of percussion music in intricate rhythms, whatever that was supposed to prove, and then we arrived at Pierre Schaeffer’s and Pierre Henry’s Symphony for the Lone Man [Symphonie pour un homme seul].
After having overheard Teatersvit nr 1 (Theatre Suite no 1) — a completely uninteresting concert number but probably infernal enough as a theater sound curtain — and Essay 3 by Epstein, and after having witnessed the Lindbladian satellite take of, one was grateful to the little indian vignette with two oboes, which opened the set. There was a need for expression that was genuine, not forced. Even though it showed points of contact it made clear where the line is drawn between real and concrete music.
As the undersigned disappeared from the hall, the brown-bearded with Satellite 60 had just declared Vecchi with daughter maladjusted. He was unable to find any other reason for their repugnance against concrete music. However, he admitted to being neither a musician nor musically interested. He just fought for the freedom of art (from knowledge…).
Those were the forces dominant in the cultural climate of the day, in 1957, but it stayed that way for quite a while, except within a tight crew of experimentalists and pioneers.
At least Åke Engfeldt was quite funny in his mangling review, whereas Carl Tillius was just a bore and nothing else. It seemed that even Rune Lindblad kind of enjoyed the witty sarcasms of Åke Engfeldt, even though the reasoning content went against him.
With this double-CD from Elektron an important step has been taken in the proclamation of Rune Lindblad’s artistic work. This does not constrain itself solely to his musical activities, but also embraces the visual arts, with woodcuts, collages, etchings and so forth, of which reproductions are printed in the booklet and on the beautiful CD cover.
The selection of the musical works has been executed by Mattias Petersson, Kent Tankred and Berndt Berndtsson, and I can certify that the selection is a good and representative one. It contains purely electronic works as well as textsound pieces and various intermediary forms.
This variety is the more startling, since the producers have had to restrain themselves to the archives of EMS and Fylkingen in Stockholm, leaving out all the fantastic material stored at the Department of Musical Sciences in Gothenburg, of which I have a good deal in copies. I hope fate, the powers and chance will find it possible to release the best stuff of the Gothenburg collection as times goes by.
The CD booklet contains an interesting and balanced essay on Lindblad by Daniel Rozenhall, and two conversations about Rune Lindblad. One talk is held between Daniel Rozenhall and Carl-Michael von Hausswolff; the other one between Daniel Rozenhall and Sten Hanson.
I think they, in the best sense, present an honest and thought-through view of Rune Lindblad and his significance, and I also believe this is the first time this has been done, without any exaggerations in any direction. Especially Sten Hanson’s description of Lindblad’s method’s, or perhaps even lack of methods, resulting in an often monolithic expression, casts a lot of light on Lindblad’s precarious situation as an artistic outcast, in the view of much of the compositional cadre of Sweden. It is not so hard to understand this reaction from the formal composers (I mean formal composers also in the field of electroacoustics) to the crude, monolithic and perhaps often completely spontaneous creations of Lindblad, but the cultural establishment made the mistake of not showing some generosity towards Lindblad, not acknowledging his spiritual example, which was worth as much, or really, even much more, than his actual sounding results.
The careful considerations of Mattias Petersson, Kent Tankred and Berndt Berndtsson has nonetheless resulted in such a varied assortment of works that the statement about monolithic composition (which, however, is correct, with the bulk of pieces considered together) ever so often is contradicted by Lindblad’s art itself. This makes me happy, since I really do want to see Rune Lindblad’s oeuvre displayed in the most positive manner possible, honesty withstanding.
I’m also happy to see a flawless English text in the booklet, the translation from Swedish diligently executed by Paul Pignon. This release, all in all, is a magnificent one; the first really serious and qualified go at a Lindblad CD retrospective.
The introductory piece is Opus 131 . Lindblad sometimes failed to give his pieces a title in addition to the opus number. Opus 131 begins peacefully on an organ note, so to say, or perhaps on a glassy or bellish note, bending slightly around itself, treading a searching path through the ether; a tonal searchlight down life, in an unusually serene mode.
This reminds one somewhat of early works by Gottfried Michael Koenig, even though, surprisingly, Lindblad’s Opus 131 is much more gently poetic than any of the color series works (for example) by Koenig; and… almost fondling. Those who have only heard really crude Lindblad stuff will be surprised at this, which, although coming across with edge and sharpness, remains pretty withheld and introverted, in beautiful, shiny, jingling Buchla audio, painting colorful metal stillnesses on standing waves of time…
Piece number 2 is Nocturne 72-2 . A synthetic bee swarm hits it off, or maybe a generously miked, hovering swarm of mosquitoes in Lapland… This is syncopated, or at least intertwined, with a harsher bronze crudeness, in ample amplitudes and tight rhythms. I feel, after as while, like I’m stuck in an Istanbul traffic jam, all the feverish drivers leaning on their horns… It’s great! No need for more sound than this. It completely fills every cubic millimeter of hearing — and perhaps this is more like the public’s common view of Lindblad; Lindblad the Terrible; the Relentless Wrecker of Peacefullnesses, the Gatherer of Grand Annoyances, the Distributor of Auditory Reluctances!
Opus 172 (Decree)  also has a title; Decree. Since this is a piece that is rather late, we expect it to also sound a bit different. It is also the longest piece on the double CD; 16:02. We find ourselves in a kind of stalagmite-stalactite environment, our head lamps shining on down the winding caves of ancient times; perhaps a French explorer team edging ever deeper into earth, inside the mountain, below the lakes, into hidden chambers… Others may get Tarkovsky visions of atmospheres out of films like Stalker, or maybe even eerie recollections of abandoned villages around Chernobyl, the vegetation mutating under the strain of a murderous radiation… I get a feeling of afterwards… Voices, whisperingly chanting, move like shadows along the far ends of the subterranean halls, like long lost memories… Water drops, echoes… Darkness quickly washes back and fills the space behind the explorers…
Lindblad has successfully mixed clearly electronic sounds with both unaltered and permutated voices and concrete sounds, achieving a remarkably suggestive web of sounds, which will leave nobody indifferent, the ghostly vocals taking turns with some sort of radio communications inside the rich and well distributed electronic soundscape. Chanting voices way inside the layers of sound appear as out of history, in Friedrich Jürgenson-like tape recordings out of the hum of radio static… Little fairy melodies in the deeper, brown register of the synthesizer, reminding me of some enchanted forest dances out of early works by Ralph Lundsten, inject a half humorous, half venomous feeling into the work.
Again I’m in fact surprised at the beauty and variation of the music. It seems I didn’t know Lindblad as well as I thought, which gives this issue an even greater importance than I had already bestowed on it! The war drums just before the end kind of issues a warning of some kind, of evil times yet to come, perhaps.
Förort  offers a more grainy experience, wave upon wave of dust storm audio beating at your corrugated steel hideaway in Arizona, where you resort to old Indian customs to try to sway the Great Spirit into mercy… The high pitch sounds keep beating at your shelter like an intense venomousness, looking for any crack in your defenses to enter your body and soul with aches and pains and karmic results… Suddenly the chirpy layers of audio are cut up into rhythms that move along like some of the complex textures of Conlon Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Piano.
Lindblad adds some deeper sounds to the overwhelming high chirp menace, and the beat goes on; the march across alien plains of distant planets, perhaps… Magnificent! And maybe these alien environments are indeed found in an early Scandinavian June morning Stockholm suburb; those 3 AM sunrays reflecting off of tenement windows over the coniferous forests of Ingmar Bergman anxiety… like on some Blå Tåget vinyl cover!
Samtal [1960 — 61] is the earliest work included in this choice selection. It is also one of the longest pieces. The vibrating, rattling beginning makes for an intense, charged, high-voltage current of sounds, raw yet refined, in a peculiar mixture of flaky grains and head-on pneumatic drills, the smoke of asphalt and the dust of concrete rising through your nostrils in a proletarian fragrance out of a socialist system per preference. I see exemplary suburbs like Vällingby rising out of the welfare state of Tage Erlander. I get a little nostalgic… The noise gets violent, but takes on some kind of motion feeling, like a rocking and rolling ride on a horse carriage down a Wild West bolt, the horses gone raving wild and mad, down the rocky path of a canyon road. The voices of hollering people, sort of shouting and grunting in awe, amplify this impression. As the noise dies down somewhat (to reappear!) a female voice joins, in whines and moans that suggest sexual pleasure, so this rocking and rolling ride takes on a completely different aspect… This could in fact be lovemaking to the sound of violent shortwave static, if that can be imagined! Calling this Conversation does imply some kind of exchange, and the rampant rhythm and the overwhelming intensity could well portray the inner workings of two very aroused bodies and minds… The pneumatic drill at the beginning can serve an allegoric end as well as a train through a tunnel, in the style and manner of a 1940’s movie… Listening to this fabulous Lindblad work has taken me through many completely different visions. This alone shows the inherent suggestive strength of Rune Lindblad’s art.
Pedagogik  arrives in a more modest duration. This piece diverges completely from anything heard so far on this set. It’s a kind of text-sound composition, or a radio theatre monologue, with a bitter criticism on the school environment and the way children are taken care of in school and society. The whole idea and execution is an enumeration of different kinds of behavioral problems that a school kid may have. If any one kid showed all these examples of serious maladjustments, he surely would be expelled or put in an observation class. The male voice that recounts all these disturbances sometimes is layered upon itself, uttering different kinds of maladjustment simultaneously, but most of the time the voice just recounts problems, one after the other, from a very long list. Towards the end the voice also cuts in on itself through the enumeration, shouting the words “vänskap” (friendship) and “kärlek” (love) and some pedagogical principles in a sternly military way, as if friendship and love and adherence to pedagogic ideals could be ordered in a political plan. Towards the end the layering of problems gets denser, as the political principles laid down in the educational plan are feverishly exclaimed. The construction and build-up of this piece reminds me of Åke Hodell’s methods of working with some of his text-sound pieces.
Some few of the maladjustment problems recounted are:
Must ask about everything.
Hands in blank math tests.
Forges his parents’ names.
Runs instead of walking.
Twists and turns on his chair.
Can’t sit still.
Plays with his pens.
Leaves for the boy’s room all the time.
Walks about in the classroom.
Pushes the pupils near to him.
Suddenly attacks a schoolmate.
Pulls his schoolmates’ hair.
Teases his schoolmates.
Spits at his schoolmates.
Tears his schoolmates’ drawings apart.
Answers his teacher impolitely and harshly.
Gets hysterical; throws himself to the floor.
Shouts, screams, curses.
Says: No, I don’t want to, I don’t give a shit.
Hits the ruler in the desk.
… and so forth…
Another text-sound work by Lindblad that I find highly interesting and downright touching (which isn’t included here), is a piece consisting of an interview — consequently cut up and interspersed into electronic music — that Lindblad did with an unwilling resident at an old-age home. The old women simply longed to go home.
The final contribution on CD 1 is Die stille Liebe, which has lent its title to the whole set, and which we dealt with in the beginning. The German voice that is distributed in sudden cuts some distance into the duration of the violent work sounds like Hitler or at least something to that general extent.
CD 2 begins with Orgel 3 (Medeltida borg) (Organ 3 (Medieval Castle)) . It arrives silently in a throbbing, thudding, phasing rhythm, which almost hypnotizes the listener. Inside the throbbing vibration jingling sounds grow, like hinges on old gates moving in the wind out in a lonely countryside… The deep sounds are layered, and later you can feel the air seep through cracks in… and old organ? Anyway, the feeling of age does manifest itself in these wheezing, modal tones, and the organ identity gets clearer after a while, having me think of some of the more experimental and extended stretches of some performances of enfant terrible Karl-Erik Welin. The wheezing imperfections of an old instrument and the presence of the electric hum of early electronic devices are utilized as legitimate ingredients of sound, and later the impression even gets across of fog horns out in the Baltic; perhaps from the lighthouse Gustav Dahlén heard from the outer reaches of the archipelago, off of the island of Enskär where Tengmalm’s owls are caught in Japanese veil-nets by bird-banding crews in Septembers of old.
Associationer . A jumping, hopping, frantic set of rhythms in different tonal colors and even different tempi are dispersed unto the listener. It’s a maze of hopscotch audio, and you choose what line to follow, or if you have a go at a collected impression of the screeching, thumping and banging experience! Suddenly a male voice comes in, quite clearly, stating, in British English: “I think Sender’s probably right”, as an uproar of more distant voices in some kind of array are heard from inside the web of sounds. Another voice counters: “What do you think I’m doing?”. The electronic sounds and the roaring commotion of what might be a Black Panther rally in San Francisco or a meeting with Malcolm X in Harlem mix, until the music glides over into a kind of short wave static or some other radio communicative breakdown.
A scene from a military barracks opens, as someone is getting loudly ordered by some higher-ranking officer. It sounds very evil. The electronic sounds, in different layers of pulsation, pan back and forth, and it occurs to me that perhaps Lindblad, like Associationer, did get some of the spoken parts from radio or TV.
Steam engine imitations pass in the electronics, eventually blending out into flapping of electronic levers or indefinable electric rhythms. Sometimes Lindblad sounds like a rougher and less orderly Jean Schwarz, and when a military counting of one-two, one-two is followed by an obvious section from a TV-show or a movie, Lindblad sounds just like a good old mix of Åke Hodell and Öyvind Fahlström. I hadn’t considered Rune Lindblad as influenced by anyone, really, but always saw him as a completely independent sound worker. Maybe he came to these artistic conclusions all by himself, without any contacts with Hodell or Fahlström, but it would be interesting — and somewhat comforting too… - to think that he did have artistic contacts, which meant something to him.
Sections of male British laughter, all in a jolly atmosphere, eases things off a bit.
Opus 133  sounds at first like a monochordic tune, like Lindblad was hitting the strings of a some African monochord, but soon it comes across like a bass guitar, perhaps, or a double-bass — and maybe that is part of the source sound too. Picking and knocking is going on, left, right, middle — and for the first time Lindblad sounds like a performer of improvised art music, like Barry Guy or somebody, fingers walking about erratically but in jazzy gestures across the tense wires. A lot of silence is permitted, which isn’t usual in Lindblad musics. Some careful electronics are allowed too, like whining Buchla stretches, and the Buchla gets more evident later in the piece. The electronic sounds get loud and dense, but pretty pearly sound beads are dispersed too, like in some early Morton Subotnick issue.
Glaciär  has been released once before (I think this is the only piece on this double that has been available commercially), on that interesting vinyl Predestination from 1975. This also reveals the one and only flaw I’ve found in this release, since the cover text states that all material is previously unreleased — but that doesn’t matter, and the piece is heard here for the first time on CD, and it defends its inclusion very well!
Rune Lindblad often submitted work descriptions; a sort of liner notes, with his pieces. On the cover of the LP Predestination he writes the following about Glaciär:
About glaciers: If the glacier gets the opportunity to spread, its icy layer produces a flat, trough-shaped depression. If the glacier is hampered by rocks, the ice layers are bent in the shapes of fans, waves or zigzag patterns. The glacier fills the valleys down which it flows, and it is in constant motion, albeit a slow one. At the occurrence of sudden precipices, the whole ice mass breaks up into large and small slabs and crush in on itself.
A soaring sound builds up, with curving, springing small sounds somewhere in the distance, like angelic chatter across a doomed weight, fallen prey to its own massive gravity. The white noise gets overwhelmingly loud, but inside the monstrous occurrence lighter electronic chirps arise, like bubbles of air through water or rivulets of melting water up on Björling’s Glacier below Kebnekaise in Swedish Lapland. I can feel the sunlight dancing across the crackling surface of the old ice giant, wrestling and trembling between the mountainsides. Voices of mountaineers — beads of roped shapes tilted against the wind - carry across the glacier, echoing muffled down the crevasses.
Opus 161  presents a rhythmically thudding beginning, which soon is accompanied by a dancing display of chirping electronics, dispersed like Inori hand gestures with long pauses in between. A beautifully permuted female voice soars in Swedish above the rhythm as the chirping ceases. It is almost impossible to make out but a few words here and there, but the magical glare of the voice makes for a truly enchanted atmosphere, in a way reminding me of some vocal pieces by Lars-Gunnar Bodin, but here taken a bit further into a hazy meadow of elves and fairies, in chance lightings from random sun rays slanting through the branches. I have a feeling that this text is a matter-of-fact description of something, but the way Lindblad has treated the voice renders it a sacral, mystical aura. Very beautiful!
Musikundervisning  is again a longer work. It is violent to begin with, like Die stille Liebe, but immediately shifts into something else, over a speeded-up voice saying: “A hundred years ago today, March 21st…,” into a male voice in German talking: “Der Flügel… Die Oktave… Das Schlagzeug… Die Synkope… Der Takt… Die Triangel… Das Akkordeon… Die Blockflöte… Die Klarinette…” and so forth… and the voice appears in two or three layers, uttering musically connected words.
The electronic music; noises, rippling sounds, bead-like rhythms and extended timbres, engulf this enumeration of musical words, sometimes blocking them out altogether. At times peculiar cuts of electronic sounds are repeated minimalistically, until the enumeration of words continue. This is indeed a very strange and appealing mix of all kinds of contemporary idioms, like text-sound composition, electronic music, radio theatre, poetry and whatnot! It’s Lindblad at his best and most varied!
Gryning  is the final cut on the second CD. It rumbles heavily in standing wave of multi-timbral layers at the opening, soon flipping up and down in erratic spurs of variations. It sort of cleanses the entire environment with a chaff cutter of audio… like Dror Feiler still to this day sometimes does, angrily and merrily! Lindblad does not hold back any here, but delivers noise for the noise lovers and appalling sensations for the honey-eared! If this is to be heard as a final greeting from Rune Lindblad, it is a slap in the face, to wake the indifferent, to make everyone aware… of life, perhaps, and its nameless possibilities. Wow!
In 1991 Jan Ling, professor at the College of Music in Gothenburg, and the prefect at the same institution — Stig Magnus Thorsén — wrote the following obituary on the recently deceased Rune Lindblad:
Rune Lindblad, Gothenburg, has passed away at the age of 67. Rune Lindblad came from a proletarian environment and began working as a welder in the shipyard industry, simultaneously studying graphic arts and painting. In 1953 he started experimenting with sound compositions, a step ahead of the international development in the area. In 1957 his works were played officially for the first time, met with a totally unsympathetic public and critique. In spite of lack of support, he continued his experiments with sound sculptures, while also refining his technique as a graphic artist and a painter. During the 1960s he gained access to modern technique through Chalmers University of Technology, the Department of Musical Sciences in Gothenburg and EMS (the Electronic Music Studio) in Stockholm. He produced a series of works that gained attention, often in the form of text-sound-picture compositions, based on his experiences of society, individuals or poetry. He has also composed chamber music. Since the beginning of the 1970s he served as an appreciated teacher at the special music education, and later at the College of Music in Gothenburg. Many distinguished composers have had Rune Lindblad as their teacher. Rune Lindblad was a richly talented and original artist. He tried to convey his unique knowledge of life and people in sharp, clear contours. They reflect his personality, with high ethical demands, which he put ahead of outer success and comfort. Behind his at times rugged apparition dwelled a warm and basically friendly and amiable person, whom with humor and irony watched the world and his surroundings. It is hard to find a more kind-hearted and true man than Rune Lindblad.
Many years earlier, for the 1975 release of the Proprius LP Predestination, Jan Ling wrote the following introduction: “Rune Lindblad is a musical materialist. Natural phenomena, political situations, are shaped with a razor-sharp sense for the perceptive qualities of sound; a time flow, often so invading and intense and extended that you feel provoked, get pissed, happy, irritated, sad — but never indifferent. He depicts the horrors of war, the power of nature, the relentlessness of life. When his humor sometimes shins through, it is a bizarre, bitter distorting mirror image of a grotesque, evil world. Perhaps Lindblad’s interest in the sounds of nature his sole positive and optimistic side; the strength, the beauty of nature’s sounds is reproduced in artistic concentration in electronic sound worlds. Lindblad describes our world from an underdog view: it is the sound world of the oppressed.”