Home Masthead Bengt Berger: Percussion | Communion

Bengt Berger: Percussion | Communion

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Bengt Berger: Percussion | Communion
Bengt Berger with Adam Rudolph (foreground)

A year earlier (2004) Mr Berger returned to theatre for what is considered one of his finest contributions to a long work for theatre including extended through-composed percussion sequences. The work was for Blendas Bröllop written in the manner of epic theatre. The storyline centred on the epic struggle between early Sweden and its Viking invaders, who were defeated with the help of women who wined and dined the invaders into a stupor before disarming and conquering them. Mr Berger not only composed the music for a full classical ensemble but also had instruments specially made in Turkey for the performers; a truly epic endeavor and as the critics decided a highly commendable one by all accounts. The year 2007 saw Mr Berger pledge his forces to trumpeter and flugelhorn player Bengt Ernryd to form Be Five, a band that also included the pianist and keyboard wunderkind Mats Öberg – together with Jonas Knutsson and Christian Spering, recording one album.

“All music is folk music.
I ain’t never heard
a horse sing a song”
Louis Armstrong

The group performed prolifically but has sadly, not recorded an album yet. Mr Berger did, however turn the name by which he is known to all of his friends – “Beche” – into a moniker he gave to a group he has now coined, with a proverbial doffing of the hat to Miles Davis. The group – Beches Brew – has since grown into what could easily come to be a burgeoning icon having produced an impressive series of albums including two award-winning albums by an extended version of the group called Beches Brew BIG, while in its trio form the group also recorded music for the Swedish version of The Bible. However, it is as a reputed Indian spin off, Beches Indian Brew that Mr Berger seems to have made the most noise.

The music is a veritable musical tour de force; a magnum opus that began nearly forty years ago with Mr Berger’s first visits to India, followed by his ethno-musicological forays into Ghana and Volta. The music on the recording is fueled by the visceral elements of Jazz as well as the raw (and refined) elements of Swedish folkloric music, and the mysterious – and magical – elements of African and Indian music. All of this music is burned in the memory from “Kakraba High Five”, which starts off the proceedings and rises to special heights during four songs: “Dagar, Djur”, “Congo Square”, “Ewe Song” and “Edith”, where two kinds of sounds come together – the mystical and the spiritual, produced in the ether and thus virtually inaudible to the human ear and the physical and audible sounds produced by guitars, woodwinds, brass, reeds, strings, keyboards, percussion – and most of all – the heavenly sound of the voices of the Akkarai Sisters and, of course, Doe Kushiator. Combining the ancient profoundly meditative modal drones from Indian and African music with the visceral excitement of improvised Jazz, and classical elegance with the whimsical articulation of the Swedish folkloric tradition and avant-garde subversion, Beches Indian Brew has produced a volcanic mélange of unique music played with theatrical tautness and élan and directed by the inspirational Mr Berger with a most magical sense of pacing, detail and texture.

Meanwhile in 2012, Mr Berger also participated in the celebrated Bucky Dome at the Museum Gardens. The geodesic structure named after its fabled original creator, the celebrated American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist, Buckminster Fuller who also pioneered the concept of “Spaceship Earth”. The Bucky Dome of 2012 was a replica of the one that was part of the 1971 exhibition “Utopier och Visioner”, and was inaugurated on May 17 (2012) with a performance by Bengt Carling and Da Wind Chi followed by a concert by the Organic Music Orchestra and Neneh and Eagle-Eye Cherry, the children of Don and Moki Cherry who had lived in the original Dome, making music there in 1971. And since 2017 Mr Berger has also joined forces with Nicolai Dunger, Thomas Tjärnkvist, Bebe Risenfors, and Nikke Ström to form Nikolai Dunger MFL. An album is due out in shortly in 2018.

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