The Soundtrack Of Our Lives - Origin vol. 1

Only a band of cave dwelling, laboratory controlled Scandinavians could have come up with something like this.



According to the November 2004 issue of the Journal of Scandinavian Anthropology, results of the 10 year long experiment 12:3:TSOOL, carried out by a team of talented anthropological researchers at Gothenburg University, have finally been collated and the results have been rather extraordinary, as Dr. Bjorn Abbasun, the head of the research team confirmed to us earlier today, "The results have been quite, extraordinary shall we say."


Experiment 12:3:TSOOL was a highly controversial experiment that ran along similar lines to the flawed experiment 12:2:HIVES, which announced some interesting and rather shocking results earlier this year. "Both experiments have produced interesting results, but with 12:3:TSOOL, the results are truly extraordinary," enthuses Abbasun. For those readers who are unfamiliar with these experiments, the idea was formed way back in the early 1980's. "It was 1982 and Abba had split up," explains Abbasun, "They were dark days then. For the whole world, not just for Sweden, but we felt it most. Our identity as a country was destroyed. Who would carry our flag now? There was nobody. We realized, as a nation, that we had to find another 'supergroup'. Sweden is a very proud country after all and we knew that the demise of Benny, Bjorn, Freda and Agnetha would ruin our economy. Whilst we knew that there would be no quick fix we got together as a group, in Gothenburg University, and sat around thinking of ways that we could invent another sure fire successful 'supergroup'."


After years of debate, the team decided to push ahead with two highly controversial experiments. As Dr. Benny Agnethasun, head of anthropology at Gothenburg University and head researcher on experiment 12:2:HIVES explains, "They were both incredibly risky. We knew there would be controversy, but we realized that we had to do something like this to make it work, to put Sweden back on the map. Leaving the average person to come up with their own band just doesn't work in Sweden, as The Cardigans have proven. Abba were created in a laboratory, it was time for us to do the same again."


Experiment 12:2:HIVES consisted of taking four small children and isolating them in a small tank for ten years, with some instruments and a handful of Kinks records for inspiration. Upon release in 1997 the group were dressed in smart suits, injected with threatening doses of adrenalin and thrust out into the public eye. Over time the 'band' have sold a fair few records and developed quite a bit of a following, but their lasting appeal is already in doubt, as Agnethasun explains, "When we started the Hives project we figured that forcing the band to listen to the Kinks would provide a basic and fundamental grounding for writing pop songs. We needed to construct a band that referenced something big and popular, but Abba would have been too close to home and there were already a thousand and one bands trying to sound like the Beatles even then, so we opted for the Kinks as they had a more angular, abrasive side to them that we figured would work very well." When the band were released into the public the initial results were intruiging and the music the band created showed some promise but, as Agnethasun admits, "Sadly, they've succeeded only in creating album after album of Kinks rip-offs. We hoped that there would be more progression, but that has not been the case."


In contrast to the failure of the HIVES experiment, the team behind the TSOOL study are reaching for the champagne bottles as their subjects show continued promise. "The TSOOL study was always a bit different. It was like the next generation of the HIVES project," explains Dr. Abbasun. Abbasun and his team were part of the original discussions that led to the HIVES project, but they decided instead to run a similar experiment, with just a few changes to the formula. They rounded up a bunch of young men instead of small boys and instead of a small tank, they isolated them inside a specially created cave complex high up on the slopes of Mt Kebnekaise, in the North of Sweden. For the first two years the group of men were given daily tutorials on rock and pop music. "We played them everything. The Who. Led Zeppelin. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, Abba of course. But we only played them each album once," says Abbasun, "We also showed them some significant rock and roll documentaries, Woodstock, the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter, The Song Remains The Same and The Kids Are Alright, that film about The Who, things like that. Again, the group were only exposed to these films once." Then, after two years of daily schooling, the music was taken away. After being fed a diet of the greatest rock and roll albums and films ever created, the group were left with only their memories and their imaginations. If they wanted music, they would have to make it themselves. The men were given instruments and left to fend for themselves for eight years.


"They were in a compound, but they could pretty much do as they liked," explains Abbasun, "Apart from supplying them with a regular supply of food and fresh water, they were pretty much left to their own devices. I often say that we invented Big Brother," he adds, jokingly. Almost from the beginning, the team were amazed at the progress their subjects made. Within weeks the group had developed a kind of hierarchy, with Ebbott Lundberg becoming the group's leader. Eventually, over time, the band became a true community, developing their own culture; even forming a religion of sorts. "With Ebbott, they used to get together every now and then and give thanks and praise to their rock Gods. The tutorials obviously paid off because they were worshipping people like Keith Moon and John Entwhistle, all of the Who basically, and people like John Lennon and Angus Young. It was incredible to see." More incredible still was the way the band formed, almost naturally, with different people within the group accepting and blossoming into various roles. "It was obvious from the first few months that Ebbott, or the Abbot as we nicknamed him, was going to be the frontman. He was just too big in stature for anybody else to say no to him, but extremely creative. He was writing songs within weeks of being there, even before the tutorials were completed. And Frederick took to drums like a fish to water," says Abbasun. "I swear that he is a reincarnation of Keith Moon. He certainly plays like it."


What pleased the research team the most was the way that the band dynamic evolved over time. As Abbasun explains, "We never told them they were going to be a band, like the HIVES project did. We just opened their minds to music and then left them alone. Sure, we gave them the instruments, but they learnt them of their own accord. In essence, this was as natural a band formation as there has ever been, these guys simply grew into their roles, and without much influence from us," and what a band they have become. Since being released from the compound in 1997, the TSOOL experiment, now known as The Soundtrack Of Our Lives (which is what TSOOL stood for) have gone from strength to strength. As Abbasun explains, "They have exceeded our expectations creatively, certainly. The music these guys is creating is complex, entertaining and highly intellectual. Whether they go on to be as financially successful as Abba is still to be seen, but in terms of quality, the results have been astounding. As far as I'm concerned and I may be biased, but they are definitely the best band to come out of Sweden, at least since Abba."


"We had to be patient with them though," says Abbasun, "things weren't quite, how do you say? Sailing plain, for a while." Indeed, in 1987, one of the core members of the group, Bjorn Olsson decided to leave. "We were disappointed," says Abbasun, "as he and the Abbot had developed a kind of understanding, but we never once tried to force him to stay." Thankfully, after undergoing a regular medical at Gothenburg University, the band happened by chance to meet another one of the team's experiments. "We honestly didn't even think of putting them together," stresses Abbasun, "but the band happened to run into Matthias Barjed, who was part of our TOWNSHEND cloning programme and they just hit it off immediately. I would say it was a match made in heaven, if I believed in such a place."


After being left to their own devices for so long, the career of The Soundtrack Of Our Lives has been an extraordinary tale and one well worth telling. They have released, just recently, their fourth album and it is an incredible piece of work. You can tell that they were good students, as echoes of The Who, The Beatles and every other rock great spring to mind, but without ever sounding like a simple rip off. Origin vol.1 is a tribute to their early schooling but it is so much more than a look back. Transcendental Suicide is the sequel to You Won't Get Fooled Again that Pete Townshend has been trying to write for years. Political, honest and exhilarating for every second of its five and a half minutes. Big Time thunders along at a pace rarely found outside of an AC/DC or Black Sabbath album, but contains a melody so catchy and likeable that anybody would enjoy it. Same goes for Heading For A Breakdown which is as playful as the Stones' Mama's Little Helper and has some fantastic backing vocals in its mix.


I have followed the progress of this study for many years. As part of my research into this article, I have been lucky enough to see the band in concert on a couple of occasions and I have been witness to the power and passion that the band contain in person. Their live gigs are extraordinary, spiritually uplifting and completely exhilarating. The Soundtrack Of Our Lives were created by boffins to snare you into worshipping the Swedish flag. With Origin vol.1, they have succeeded on every level. You must own this album, it is an immense and powerful piece of work. It will remind you of the greatest rock albums of the past forty years, all re-imagined and packaged onto one disc; albeit with artwork created by someone with dodgy photoshop skills. It is a fabulous album and I, for one, would be prepared to live in a cave for ten years if it meant I could come up with something as entertaining as this.


Most of what I have said above is absolute tosh but seriously, buy this album, it's fabulous. Only a band of cave dwelling, laboratory controlled Scandinavians however, could have come up with something like this, so I may be on to something. Who else could have come up with a tune as delightful as Borderline or as bombastic as Transcendental Suicide? There are echoes of other bands in every song, but The Soundtrack Of Our Lives don't deserve to be compared, we should be comparing other bands to them. They are that good.