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Ake Hodell - Verbal Brainwash 1963-1977 - 3CD-BOX 2000
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ake hodell verbal brainwash avant-garde elektroakustisk musik ljudkompositioner sverige
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Jul 31, 2011

Ake Börjesson Hodell, född 30 april 1919 i Klara, Stockholm, död 29 juli 2000 i Stockholm. Stridspilot, poet, författare, text-ljudkompositör och konstnär. Begravd på Norra begravningsplatsen.

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Ake Hodell hade starka teateranknytningar i sin familj. Fadern var författaren Björn Hodell som skrev ett antal revyer och lustspel och som var föreståndare för Södra teatern i Stockholm mellan 1929-1938. Hans syster var skådespelaren Ulla Hodell verksam vid Casinoteatern. Hans farfars bror, Frans Hodell, komedi- och operettskådespelare och författare till över hundra lustspel, bland annat Andersson, Pettersson och Lundström. Som 25-åring ledde Hodell arbetet på Malmö barnteater, där även Jan Malmsjö med flera var aktiva och 1944 skrev han pjäsen Rännstensungar, en social satir som filmatiserades samma år av Ragnar Frisk.

Redan innan tiden på barnteatern i Malmö hade han utbildat sig till stridspilot, men efter att han, under en övning den 17 juli 1941, havererat på en slätt i Skåne fick han tillbringa de följande åren på Lunds lasarett. Detta blev en vändpunkt i hans liv och han blev bland annat en stark antimilitarist vilket kom att prägla hans verk. Under sin vistelse på sjukhuset fick han kontakt med diktaren Gunnar Ekelöf. Debuten skedde 1953 med diktsamlingen Flyende pilot och på våren samma år reser Hodell och Ekelöf till Rom. I sina böcker experimenterar Hodell med vad han kallar elektronismer medan han på scen och i radio, i början av 1960-talet, experimenterade med text-ljud-kompositioner. Under denna tid var han också verksam på Pistolteatern i Stockholm där han bland annat satte upp teaterstycket Lågsniff. På 1960-talet grundade och drev han bokförlaget Kerberos. 220 Volts Buddha utkom på LP och Verbal Brainwash & Other Works innehåller tre CD.

Han skrev och producerade 16 radiopjäser för Sveriges Radio mellan åren 1970-1995.

Ett Ake Hodell-stipendium utdelas av föreningen Fylkingen.

I böckerna Rekonstruktionen av en roman (2009) och Lenin är en skruvkork (2010) av Carl-Johan Charpentier finns referenser till Ake Hodell och hans författarskap. (wikipedia)

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This is the authorized edition of the collected text-sound compositions of Ake Hodell. It includes all titles which Hodell himself has described as text-sound compositions. The collection is taken from the time of the premiere of General Buddy-Buddy and Presentarms in 1963 up to Spirit of Ecstasy from 1977. During this period, Ake also worked with radio drama that often had certain parallels to text-sound composition, but never had any doubts himself as to which of his works were text-sound and which were drama.

This CD-box is a living example taken from the most vital period in the history of the Music Department of the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation (Sveriges Radio, SR) and a monument to the fruitful collaboration between Fylkingen and SR. I enjoyed close collaboration with Ake Hodell during the work on this production.

We had our last conversation about two days before his death. He had approved all three discs and had the day before received a  copy of the sleeve, which he had managed somehow to proof read, probably with the help of a magnifying glass and considerable exertion. We communicated what changes should be made and thereafter he approved the release. He left all further responsibility with me and bade me farewell, the import of which I did not realize at the time. Ake listened patiently to all the new edited versions of the pieces included here, always giving fresh views. All changes to the original tapes were made in cooperation with Ake.

Sylve Sjöberg, the engineer who realized most of Ake Hodells works for the Music Department of SR, oversaw the mastering from the original tapes. The technical know-how and the professionalism which thanks to Sylve Sjöbergs work shine through Ake Hodells production reach a climax in Spirit of Ecstasy, but this can only truly be experienced in the concert version for four-channel tape. We hope to make digital four-channel versions available in the future.

Mats Lindström / executive producer

About the pieces

General Bussig (General Buddy-Buddy) (1963)
igevär (Present Arms) (1963)
Structures III (1967)
USS Pacific Ocean (1968)
Where is Eldridge Cleaver? (1969)
Law & Order Inc. (1970)
Mr Smith in Rhodesia (1970)
The Road to Nepal (1971)
220 Volt Buddha (1971)
Numro Ba Besch (General Buddy-Buddy, version for tape) (1972)
The Djurgården Ferry across the Styx (1972)
Cerberus, the Hellhound (1972)
General Bonhomme (1972)
Presentezarmes (1972)
Orpheic Revelations (1973)
The Voyage to Labrador (1976)
Spirit of Ecstasy, Racing Car Opera (1977)

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At one of Fylkingens concerts at the Modern Museum in Stockholm in 1967, Ake Hodell presented a newly written piece entitled Strukturer III (Structures III). Avant-garde pieces of the time were supposed to have titles like that, following the example of the priesthood in Darmstadt (Pierre Boulez Structures).

I assume that the audience, reading the title in the programme, envisioned a calm electronic glass pearl display of serially trimmed sinus tones. When the piece started, a hellish noise came from the loudspeakers, strategically placed in a ring around the audience. Smattering rifle shots were replaced by chattering machine guns, projectiles from grenade launchers and mortars whistled over the heads of the audience and exploded in pillboxes on the other side of the room; the engine noise from bombers grew into an earsplitting roar; screaming bombs exploded amidst anti-aircraft fire; and finally, the cobalt bomb exploded, a doomsday murmur which vibrated in the speakers for several minutes.

Strukturer III turned out to be a sound collage which authentically and chronologically demonstrated the acoustic happenings of both world wars. Perhaps the most frightening part of the piece was that one never heard any human voices, neither commands nor the moans of the wounded. It was the death machines themselves which got to perform, the infernal concert presented by humanity when it tries to murder itself.

Strukturer III is a characteristic piece from Åke Hodells first avant-garde phase, the antimilitary; other include igevär, General Bussig, and Law & Order Inc. Ake Hodells art always has a message, in these early works an almost agitating frenzy, which breaks out of the limited eclecticism of the contemporary avant-garde. The message is not radically pacifistic. Ake Hodell knows that absolute evil can only be defeated by absolute force. During the summer of 1940, he was one of the few newly educated young fighter pilots who flew practice missions over Skåne while waiting for a possible German invasion. In July 1941, Ake Hodells airplane crashed from a height of 100 meters; he was badly hurt, and was forced to spend the following years at the hospital in Lund.

This experience is the basis for Självbiografi (Autobiography, 1967); the novel Skratta Pajazzo (Laugh, Clown, 1983); and, more indirectly, as an overwhelming feeling in his works of the proximity of death. Djurgårdsfärjan över Styx (The Djurgården Ferry across the Styx) is a vision of how the little Stockholm ferry, on its daily round from the city district of Slussen to the amusement park at Gröna Lund, transforms into Carons boat over the river of forgetfulness, interweaved with a mist of bells, foghorns and cawing crow choruses.
It doesnt happen often in our art history that a group of young artists from the avant-garde by themselves invent a wholly new genre or form which is not built on outside borrowings, and Swedish modernism during the 20th century offers for the most part a varied map of eclectic loans from foreign models. However, during the 1960s it happened, and these new creations got the literally descriptive name text-sound-composition. Oyvind Fahlström had shown the way with his wildly experimental radio piece Fåglar i Sverige (Birds in Sweden, 1963), and during the following years, the form was developed by Ake Hodell, Bengt Emil Johnson and Lars-Gunnar Bodin.

In a text-sound-composition, music, electronically treated sound material, lyrics and dramatic text are combined into an individual hybrid form, which it turns out offer surprising possibilities for development. Ake Hodells production from the years around 1970, evolved from the first antimilitary phase, showed a wholly new synthesis which matured to mastery in pieces such as 220 Volt Buddha (1971), The Road to Nepal (1971), The Djurgården Ferry across the Styx (1972), Cerberus the Hellhound (1972) and the radio opera Spirit of Ecstasy (1977). The repetitive element in Ake Hodells work (occurring long before minimalism had reached our shores) seems rhythmic, supplying a musical form. In Law & Order Inc the droning monotony exposes the inhuman element inherent in total discipline, in The Djurgården Ferry across the Styx the repeated refrain (deaths crows, Carons crows) makes time stand still. Ake Hodell achieves a deep, intensive effect, especially present in a piece like The Road to Nepal where jungle sounds, birds and chattering apes, and the roar of a motorcycle form a meditative mantra: a sort of cleansing, transformation, or unfettering, in Ake Hodells words. Landscape Music which is also very visual. Electronic purgatory.

The subway car where Orpheus meets his Eurydice never gets farther than to the Fridhemsplan underground station in central Stockholm. A serene Mozart chord is torn to bits by howling wolves in Orfiska uppenbarelser (Orpheic Revelations), text and sound united in an inner vision, one is reminded of Gunnar Ekeföfs words in the foreword to Hodells debut book Flyende Pilot (Fleeing Pilot) from 1953, about the miraculously surviving and reawakened poet who has started searching within for a Gondwanaland. Among the cliches from the 1960s is the stubborn myth that political art came about first around the end of the decade, in the shadow of the Vietnam war. Ake Hodells art had a political edge from the beginning; in Lågsniff he attacks the Franco dictatorship in Spain. Oyvind Fahlström used the cold war in his art; the balance of terror, the worldwide imperialism of the superpowers. Ake Hodell used the balance of terror in his apocalyptic USS Pacific Ocean and the black civil rights movement in America in Where is Eldridge Cleaver? With the radio piece Mr Smith in Rhodesia (1970), he started a political turmoil of which he gives an account on this CD. A moral content can be found in a form.  This discovery has led Ake Hodell through decades of new creation, an endless search for unknown, untouched terrain.
He followed his own path without compromises, a unique path in times where trend-bucking and commercialism are the obligatory traps. Ake Hodell has displayed his varied palette with an ever widening scope of expression, from outgoing agitation to inner searching, burlesque humour, and dark melancholy. In short: Cabaret Hodell, a one-man show on his own stage, totally unique within the Swedish avant-garde during the past half century. (