Combo 8

Combo 8 were a Swedish instrumental sextet of the mid-1970s. Comprised of highly trained newcomers, the band issued Vibrationer on the local Levande Improviserad Musik label in 1976.

Members: Björn Hallberg (guitar), Janne Wiklund (saxophone), Lennart Johansson (trumpet), Torbjörn Johansson (drums), Tore Hultgren (trumpet), Ulf Mårtensson (bass)

Musically, the album spans the outer-reaches of metric and harmonic density across six tracks. The 7/8 pace of “Regatta II” is bombarded in a flurry of toms and cymbals that rush the enveloped scales of Hallberg along in the key of C-sharp. Soon enough, Torbjörn Johansson claims center stage with a kick-triggered shooting spree of snare fills. When the band reenters, the spotlight rotates among the alternately clipped/oozing charts of Wiklund, Hultgren, and Lennart Johansson.

“Funk Five” is guided by a 5/4 bassline that darts from seventh to fourth notes and back in the key of Amaj. The brisk tempo is laid dense with two drumsets — courtesy of Johansson and guest Rickard Olson — that pace and fill the proceedings. The tingly Rhodes glissandos of guest-pianist Carl-Axel Hall spiral evermore fluidly around hyperactive tom-rolls as the track progresses. Brass and woodwinds enter midway, only to be engulfed in the sonic maelstrom. Lead instruments are exhaled through an echoey, effects-laden vortex as the song climaxes.

Leading off from a wind-swept flurry of brass, the title-track is largely dominated by a brisk, circular bassline that scales between low fifth’s and high third’s in the keys of B-flat and A-flat. The deep-toned legato licks of Hallberg compete for attention, but only Wiklund can wrest the spotlight from Mårtensson with rising tremors of sax. Underneath it all, snare-heavy rolls double-up on every fourth bar.

“Edmund” winds along in alternating bars of 7/8 and 9/8 amidst a scratchy, cowbell-accented riff that shuffles three’s and two’s in the key of F-sharp. Brassing through a sequence of snare-split modulations, the players abruptly pause for a flute-laced interlude akin to a snake charm. Eventually, the ensemble reasserts itself for some of the most balanced cohesion on record. 

The dual-drum hurricane of “Mardröm” gives further time to the sparkly Rhodes runs of Hall and the effects-filtered improv of the horn section. Though intended as a more refined showcase for Wiklund’s sax-work, Torbjörn Johansson rivets with his dense, machine-gun fills.

The band issued no further recordings, though Hall’s name can be found on the contemporaneous longplayer from fellow Swedes Sundance, as well as on the 1977 Bush Lady LP by local star Monica Törnell.


  • Vibrationer (1976)

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