(Editor’s note: David Lindqvist has been responsible for the raw material for a couple posts on Swedesplease. When he approached me with his thoughts about singer-songwriter David Sandstrom, I asked him to write it all down and submit it. So here is the first ever guest post on Swedesplease. Thanks David.)
“First off, a big thanks to Craig for allowing me to ramble a bit. I’ll try to keep it short.
David Sandström started out as a drummer is various punk/hardcore bands, most notably Refused. After Refused threw in the towel in 1998, Sandström went to work on his second solo album (the first one, The Faint Sounds Of Shovelled Earth, had been released only months prior). He had started investigating the true cause of death of his maternal grandfather Sigvard Nilsson, who had always been a bit of a persona non grata in the Sandström household. It turned out Sigvard suffered from tuberculosis and catatonia in the 1940′s, which led to long stays in the hospital where he was subjected to shock treatment, which in turn led to depressions, and eventually he committed suicide in 1968 at the age of sixty.
This (combined with compulsive readings of the works of author Sara Lidman, who wrote many novels set in Sandström’s home of Västerbotten) was just the inspiration David needed. Most of the material was written in 1997-98. The recording started in September ’99, and he wasn’t done until January 2001. The album had grown into something much, much bigger than just the story of his grandfather; he had made an album about the history and exploitation of his own home, and how the working class, the farmers, were the ones who had to pay.
In this own words:
“The record deals with my grandpa Sigvard Nilsson who was a smallholder in Degernäs, Västerbotten. At that time the Swedish government had bereft the northern part of Sweden (Norrland) of it’s most valuable resource: wood. They had funded the industrialization of the south by selling the raw, unprocessed timber to southern European countries and suddenly smallholding was considered superfluous and was settled in a few decades. All he wanted was to run a farm and that possibility was taken from him. He hung himself in 1968, he couldn’t take it anymore, the world he wanted to live in and be respected by just disappeared. There wasn’t room for him anymore.”
The finished product, Om Det Inte Händer Något Innan Imorgon Så Kommer Jag (named after a passage in Sara Lidman’s 1955 novel “Hjortonlandet”), is a daunting mammoth of an album, of almost biblical proportions. My favorite track “1968″ describes in detail the abondoned houses and the desolate surroundings that were the result of the aforementioned exploitation.
But the darkest track is saved for last. If you listen closely to the album’s closer “Kurragömma” (around the 12:42 mark), you can hear the sound of footsteps in the snow, meant to represent his grandfather getting up in the morning and walking to the barn, where the noose he prepared is waiting for him.
Om Det Inte Händer Något Innan Imorgon Så Kommer Jag is hardly easy listening, but given time it’s nothing short of breathtaking. The best way to experience it is, of course, to listen to the album in full. Luckily, David Sandström has made it available for free on the album’s website.
That wasn’t very short, was it? I’ll shut up now.”
Questions, comments email David here – monkey_bastard (at) hotmail.com