Bengt “Beche” Berger: Viltvarning / Live At Fasching 2002

Swedish drummer mixes freewheeling swing, Traneish laments and Indian influences in the company of some good soloists


The title of this terrific, two-drummers-led session from Stockholm’s legendary Fasching club could be translated as “Warning: Wild Life”. Appropriately enough, the cover of the digital release depicts a road, lit only by car headlamps, cutting through a forest otherwise shrouded in darkness.

The music of this “wild-themed” evening – an evening which included a suitably prepared menu for the patrons at Fasching – begins with Berger’s tongue-in-cheek vocal hypnotising of the audience. And the entrance fee for the gig came with a money-back guarantee, if an elk had not at some point in the evening wandered into the club . . .

Recorded in 2002, the two sets furnished leader and producer Berger – who composed all the pieces – with almost two hours of music. At first he thought to edit things down to single CD length, but then decided to release all the music digitally, with only a few moments of talk and applause taken out.

Featuring pinpoint interwoven ensemble riffing and rubato colour as well as full-on solos from some of the strongest musicians on the Swedish scene at the time, Viltvarning is both plenty wild and plenty cultured – and hugely enjoyable.

If Berger’s literate affinity for seemingly time-transcending aspects of Indian music is evident in mood-rich drone pieces like the arco-fed Kanakangi, the blues-shot, rolling and swinging Magadaskar (where Öberg comes on strong) showcases another side entirely of this maverick’s many-sided muse. So too the reflective and keenly pitched Over The Hill – for me, the outstanding piece here, fired by Knutsson’s searing alto – and the fat and full fun of Funk You. Elsewhere, things can move quickly from an atemporal, Ayler-like intensity to ostinato-sprung riffing and folkish melody, with some characterful vocalising at various points from Lina Nyberg and a slew of further fine solos all round.

The digital sleeve gives detailed information on all such activity – which is just as well, so richly and diversely voiced is this shape-shifting journey into the wild. Crack open a beer or two, perhaps with a chaser on the side, and prepare to fly …

Fygisk Hypnos; Fortare; Flabby Dick; Sail Away; February March; Dagar, Djur; Ants; Over The Hill; Vesuvio; Metapolka; Patos Och Depression; Livet; Kanakangi / Kakraba Hi-Five;Magadaskar / Pizza Excess; Zeami; Spansk Skiss; Funk You; Spanska Polkan; Vintern Vänder (116.00)
Berger (d); Thomas Gustafsson ss, ts); Tomas Hallonsten (t, harm); Göran Klinghagen (elg); Jonas Knutsson (ss, as, bar); Pär-Ola Landin (b, elb); Lina Nyberg (v, pc); David Wilczewski (f, ss, ts); Torbjörn Zetterberg (b, elb); Mats Öberg (p, kyb, v); Martin Jonsson (d). Stockholm, 14 November 2002.
Country & Eastern CEX 33 (digital)