Peter Lindroth & Ludvig Josephson Från den oföränderliga bryggan (From The Unchanging Pier)
Peter Lindroth [composition] – Ludvig Josephson [text)
John Erik Eleby [bass]
KammarensembleN, Michael Bartosch [cond.]

Nosag Records CD 153. Duration: 43:16.

01. I recall
02. The clonck of the rain
03. If you drive the heavily traveled road
04. My father
05. Frescati
06. Trains arrive
07. The hedges
08. The motorway throughfares
09. The Roslag tracks
10. Second clonck of the rain
11. The beard is tightening
12. Why am I so nervous
13. Incredible bulls
14. Nature
15. The TV was kindly occupied
16. I'm sitting

Synopsis (translation by Ingvar Loco Nordin):

One man’s unhappy love affair with his own memories and the past keeps him from taking part in the present, which is flowing all around him. He prefers to move through border zones between dreams and reality as well as geographically. The highway exits of northeast Stockholm comprise a makeshift stage for his nostalgic fantasies and odd experiences. Slightly shamefaced the man observes that his mind is crammed with debris leading nowhere, and he perceives his attention to detail and people as pure voyeurism. A song cycle about autumnal yearning for the unchanging pier on the horizon.

I met Peter Lindroth as a member of The Great Learning Orchestra in Stockholm a number of years ago, and I’ve mostly thought of him in that context, but then I started bumping in to him in various other settings, like at a recording of Claude Loyola Allgén’s 2nd String Quartet at The Arts Academy in 2005, incidentally recorded by the very same Anders Blomqvist who recorded From The Unchanging Pier in 2002.

After that I learned that Peter Lindroth – like most of the members of The Great Learning Orchestra – has a long and varied involvement in all kinds of music to his credit. Once at a Great Learning Orchestra gathering in the spring of 2007, when I recorded a double-CD with them performing a number of
A4 compositions especially written for the GLO, Peter slipped me this CD of The Unchanging Pier, and when I came home and listened through it, I immediately realized that this was something out of the ordinary in contemporary art music, with a hard core of true originality, though it can easily be placed somewhere in a Swedish tradition of melodrama and Hörspiele, where forerunners like Sven-Erik Bäck and his melodramas Fågeln (The Bird) and Tranfjädrarna (The Crane Wings), and even Gunnar Ekelöf’s Mölna-elegi (Mölna Elegy) as treated in radio version by Anders Carlberg, can be counted – though Carlberg’s environment is much less musical in the traditional sense than Bäck’s and especially Lindroth’s work – but the artistic atmosphere and the strong lingual aspect is a common denominator, as well as the psychological insight into forgotten or repressed realms of mind and soul.

Lindroth’s work is a thoroughly composed and notated work, with a burlesque, Gargantuan feel to it, whilst also rendering the content a dreamy, introverted and almost otherworldly sensation, spent in a spiraling motion around memories and dreams and forlorn ruminations, in an environment that is comprised of all those zero spots of modern urban existence; motorway underpasses with unkempt, littered tufts of grass and inhumane areas crisscrossed with on and off ramps for a never ending stream of noisy and exhaust-emitting vehicles always on their way somewhere else, somewhere else, somewhere else… A work like this can’t be perceived unless you have lingered long in obscure, absentminded and perhaps somewhat dangerous states of mind, and I suppose that is where the author of the text, Ludvig Jospehson, has roamed. His text is exemplary in its distancing, deprecating gesture; it’s laconic stroke of the lingual brush across the scruffy canvas of destitute realms of city and mind.

Peter Lindroth

I’ll try a translation of the complete text, which is interspersed with a few instrumental sections throughout the composition:

“I recall the cord to the alarm clock at my dad’s bedside, the broad shadow of the hour handle which appallingly slowly slid down the night-glowing clock-face’s right half, across its pink electric slumber down towards the wee hours of morn and six o’clock when the buzzer was set in motion.

I recall the sweat on my dad’s cotton pajamas and the rank breath from his sleep in the dark.
The spruces moved behind the blinds, a pheasant ran like a threat across the confines of the lots and the power line moved in arcs high up under the gray morning sky.

It gradually got lighter under the clonck of the diminishing rain through the funnel of the downspout.”


“If you take the heavily trafficked road out of the city, on its north-east side, through the roundabout and drive it some ways towards Frescati, Albano and The Bergian Gardens, you will pass a secluded zone in full amnesia shortly before the road makes a turn underneath a railway bridge.
You discover it more easily if you bicycle or walk – it lies immediately to the right of the bike path, distinguished by a sign of the old, dark blue kind, which has become dented and lost all its original color. The sign is faint and says nothing about the area where it stands, only displaying the symbol of a gas station a few hundred yards up ahead.
Another sign, “to the trains”, indicates a path which rises steeply from the traffic route, through the zone, to one of the Roslag route’s stations, which appears so completely deserted that it is hard to conceive of trains stopping there. But they do. Even though the station lacks signs displaying its name.”

“My father was like a dark house, turned away in a slumbering smile. He could be like a brick wall, some early nights he was sensed down in the living room like a checkered atmosphere of chess.

My father was like a rectangle, vertical, in phase with the stripes of the wall.
The lingering echo of tense springs in the bent knee of the desk lamp.

Frescati Inverness Stocksund
I’m still awake

A train arrives. Caught without an errand I tread along the wooden pier of the platform so that the engineer believes I want to board. I try to signal with my back and my gait that I don’t want to get on, and after some extended moments the train continues. Above the lethal cable lamps of the old kind, shaped like cups turned upside down on saucers, hang from tall, green-painted poles of iron.

The hedges of spruces in the Bergian garden slowly turn brown from inside. A heap of stacked umbrella skeletons, of wood, clinking dryly in the draft from a sinking sun.

The lanes of the highway have become wider. My field of vision has narrowed unto a focal point, which scans what’s left of the yellow lines of the road. On a patch where remains of the paint have stuck in craters from studded tires, blades of grass have emerged and a few spoonfuls of needles and sand have blown in. Disturbances in the magnetic fields of October space have occurred. Their electric glaciers, at a distance, seem rather immobile, but appear to be a-drift on the heavenly slope like a stack of plates, at any moment.

Now the gate came down at the tracks of the Roslag route. A speedy wave of sound through the ground. Jays move mechanically through the chestnut with the diodes of their feathers oscillating between the leaves.

My perception falls head over heels, crumples across withered flox, towards puddles and soil, moves downwards, ‘tween flickering shoals of bacteria, through the fern-patterns of the cells.

Down, through dust, between the stains of afternoon, like clover ten.


Right in the mighty roundabout, a lawn has been laid down where you hardly get a chance to be, where you look up against the heights with Car Eldh’s studio, and in the opposite direction, perpendicular to the steep hill, a sole high-rise climbs, filled with corridors and students I’ve never seen, and whom, probably have no relation whatsoever to the motion of heavy traffic in the depths below their window.
In the middle of this lawn in the roundabout I sometimes sit in a kind of peculiar light, summer sky above, though lacking any real sun and at no special time of day. I rest in my bathing-trunks at the foot of an almost vertical staircase of aluminum to jump from, into the hallucinatory pool, and I turn my vanilla fudge in my hand to better grasp the flickering of stripes on the wrapping paper.
A Scania Vabis with a trailer and double pairs of wheels deepen the tone of the traffic now and then, rippling the chlorine blue water in its rumble.

I watch summer-blonde boys climbing in and out of the water, and now it occurs to me that one of them may be my son, but no, he wouldn’t be here in the middle of the roundabout, he’s occupied somewhere else with digital games

He’s not aware that right here lays a checkpoint out towards fond memories of the hydrogen bomb.

I have to finish all this before I can deal with him seriously. He’ll pull through.

Why am I so nervous? It’s a bright day. Sky blue as a color sample. Air pierced by September chill. I stroll among fruit treas.

I haven’t offended anyway. Haven’t made a fool of myself. Scared nobody. Not come too close. Haven’t been banal. Haven’t been mystic.

Why am I so nervous?

I’m afraid I will send emails to people, with stupid contents. I make gestures over the sending commando, which wishes to withdraw the finger, like the trigger mechanism of a death machine.

I harbor a horrible fantasy. A picture that makes me gasp and walk way to fast along the sidewalk. It’s all about a man I don’t know. He married not long ago, to a woman I once visited. Their picture was in the paper and they thanked all who’d made that day memorable.

I don’t know the man, but I know who he is and what is his name. Such things are appalling. Why do I remember it?

I keep worrying that he some time will get on the same bus with me, because that’s happened some sporadic time before.

I my dream I saw incredible bulls, huge as double-deckers, standing like high bridges across the gate.

It was light, daytime, but sun was lacking, and the ground shook and quivered from dreadful acceleration.

In the dream I saw double-decker-high bulls standing like bridges across the gate. It was daylight but no sun.

Nature made a put-on impression, as if the landscape was on display for someone’s anger and began pushing me in the decided direction that the bicycle now carried me at such a speed.

I held on to the handlebars as tight as I could not to be blown off the road by a cosmic blast.

The TV was kindly occupied making colors. I roamed without worries in an animated children’s movie from the Warsaw Treaty, where apple-cheeked robbers with twisted moustaches liberated themselves in jolly, collar booted strides out of an ambush at right, to intercept farmers arriving in a hay-load. The foliages were round circles cut out of green silhouette paper. The spectral colors curved jerkily out of the horn of an old gramophone, blossomed into a cloud of thoughts and sailed in chinking noise from a streetcar clock diagonally across the screen. I stepped out into the kitchen to make unhealthy sandwiches from the sliced bread Diwong, which had to be toasted to taste anything, packed in a plastic bag with a picture of young people who came tumbling out of the setting sun, across the hills, in positive pop star leaps. Shivering from comfort and well-being I thought about 16-year-old Annika who sat in her room dense with placards in the basement, mourning the recently deceased Jimi Hendrix, enjoying my plans about how we could tease her about it. Birds in shining primary colors, with antennae-looking extensions on their heads sang mechanically out of the realms of the silhouette paper trees. In a black-and-white news program in a light grayscale with low contrast you saw scenes from Hanoi, with mortar, plaster and beams soaring about in roaring firestorms. Women on all four came creeping out of the fallen houses. I sat by myself at the TV, munching one tangerine after the other. The speaker voice established that more bombs had been distributed during this campaign than during all of World War II. It must have been something with the number, itself, of bombs that became uncomfortable. Because when it came up, I had to rush to the toilet for a good size shit attack. Otherwise, that happened seldom. That was, in a way, easier to stand, any way, than what had just happened, after I’d forwarded an email through a list, to about fifty people, at least. It contained things I may return to. I moved in tighter and tighter circles ‘round the sending commando, like a monkey, incredibly carefully, inching closer to a leopard hide, before I, driven by an enigmatic self-destruction, irrevocably clicked away my shamelessnesses. You can turn a bomb plane around. But an email flown off can never be pinched in the wing. With just one punch I’ve pulled destruction towards me and raised fucking hell. Perhaps worse, even, than any bomb pilot. I recall with regret how I used to sit in front of the TV.

I sit most of the day in the silence of the dog days, strapped to the stripes of the lounge-chair, in a neutral look, watching the canopy of the sky moving around the bay.

From the unchanging pier I have a view across the motions of the moon.

I’ve been sitting here through later years, at the periphery of Earth.

That’s all.

I can’t recall what women I’ve had and which I have only wished for.
We never meet anyway.”

The music starts on a brooding, repetitious, ominous note – into which the laconic words talk-sung by the bass singer are inserted, in that special feeling that a dark, deep bass always conveys. Sharply sliced strings make exclamation marks in the sound, and the story told – painted! – by the singer, opens an introverted world to us, that just… is – and nobody can do anything about that, and that is because the story told, the painting painted, is one of yesteryear, of many years ago. With small means the composer – Peter Lindroth – has rendered the sound graveness, turned-away indifference, like the motion of shoving an insect of your coat. Everything is going on in this re-enacted slice of life. That was the part called “Jag kommer ihåg / I recall”.

John Erik Eleby, Peter Lindroth, Ludvig Josephson

The next section is “Regnets klonk / The klonk of rain” – which is a majestic hammering of orchestral might, a bouncing, pounding rhythm, not unlike some of the utterances you might hear from some of the semi-minimalists, or from guys like Louis Andriessen – or… Luciano Berio: Eindrücke!
Yes, that’s how poignant and jerkily bustling this still somewhat withheld craze is!

Section three is “Om man tar den tungt trafikerade vägen / If you drive the heavily trafficked road”. Here come’s the bass – John Erik Eleby, again, swirling his dark lingual hues on the fluttering and flying veil of the careful and stooping orchestral motion, and the voice is so clear, much clearer than you usually hear a text line inside an opera, for example – but this is a dream melodrama; not an opera.
And the instruments rise and shine in ultimate clarity too. The base drum makes the whole room shiver.

Section four emerges in triangles… and then the bass singer, reasoning about his father, and then… suddenly: hard notes, crunching orchestra: noise! My father was like a black house… My father was like a rectangle!

Part five is a speedy, munchy, rushing incident, like those dark, invisible wind drafts up above the street… and then: FRESCATI, spelled out ceremoniously, letter after letter, like was it a Latin ghost of scholarship. This tune is so catchy! I wind it on repeat a half an hour, dancing around the apartment with the FRESCATI ghost, acrid saliva wetting his stiff collar. And other hard, magic names are dropped: INVERNESS; STOCKSUND!

The FRESCATI ghost looks like one part black-blue licorice, one part old, wretched bitter-chewed lecturer. He’s somehow related to the Big Bad Wolf and has something shameful that he doesn’t let on, in his Catholicism. FRESCATI. And wears a black duffel coat! Swing it, Magistern!

Track six connects, but leads on, into a slight difference, as the train slows down, sees him, realizes he won’t ride, only to gear up again and move further on along in Stockholm night.

Section seven sports a tender, careful bass song, in the Bergian Garden, and it is time to stop and think: voice, strings, piano trickles, crotals, whatnot – and as track eight commences all hell breaks loose, but orderly, orderly – fascism music, quite lustful: disturbances in October space. A hammering majesty of Lindroth music; violent and beautiful, scary and tickling. The singer even talking in a falsetto ones, while the orchestra rattles much worse than ever Steve Reich or Philip Glass.
It’s great fun that these daydreams and recollections – so transparent and vague – can harbor music as extremely sturdy and loudmouthed as this!

Number nine is quite a different story, with jangling screeches in high strings and embellished rhythm sections at lower, rougher strings – and as the story precipitates, the piano rushes ahead to support the story. It’s all right and no hurry in number nine; the bass singer explaining all around, and everything feels comfortable where it is. Some moments can be like this, between coffee and lunch inside a policeman’s interview-room.

10 comes on again, like Berio’s
Eindrücke – and I’ve learned that Peter Lindroth enjoys this kind of makeshift rhythm with some steel to it, some shiny percussive voices – and, of course, he’s made these jagged, yet heavy, yet soaring rhythms his musical theme in this wonderful melodrama.

Track 11 is a long section, with lots of narrative bass vocals. It’s just to sit back and listen to the story, the description, the painting – and then starts the music; strings and percussion, and the bass singer – John Erik Eleby – gears up his falsetto voice for a while. Here and there the music falls silent, and only the bass singer, talk-singing like Bob Dylan 1964, is over-heard. The text is so clearly poetic and rare here, where you have a lot of time to listen hard to it, even to the accompaniment of a harpsichord!

12 is musically quite more interesting, the filaments of the violins grabbed and pulled, letting the sound move in a pizzicato-close proximity, as Eleby reaches his falsetto ones again. Even in short instances with semi-pizzis, the rhythm is sturdy enough.

13 bangs it all shut from second one, singer roaring about incredible bulls, big like double-deckers, as the orchestra lets a whole steelworks make beautiful noise! In this might there is also room for finesse and detail, and many a little sounding object may serve as a sonic-depth finder way inside the thunderclap audio.

Track 14 opens in impressionistic light-seeping foliage, instrumental, the orchestra circling around itself, gathering bliss and light and psychic momentum – until the bass singer enters, telling his story, the story of Ludvig Josephson, in the intonation of Peter Lindroth.
The lot accelerates, falsetto singing is utilized, and the set cools off a little, eventually, sort of moving like a dress falling down step after step of a staircase. We are moving inside a dream, or back and forth through a semi-transparent filter of time, perhaps even across the bridge that stands over September’s forest in Stig Dagerman’s poem.

Section 15 is a more extended affair again, about seven minutes, and it’s the last gross-part of this enchanting and somewhat absentmindedly focused melodrama. As the last part – No. 16 – softly and somewhat morose – begins moving down the line of the composition, the text deals with the vulnerable bacterial state of nature through late summer, and the singer doesn’t stop at that, but applies this insight into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where we all tread, though we may be strapped to the stripes of the lounge-chair… from the unchanging pier…