About Åke Hodell
The experimental Swedish composer Ake Hodell began working in the early '60s and was still composing work up until his death in 2000. He produced many works in text-sound composition, which was a style definition the artist was responsible for coining. Text-sound composition is the collage of field and locational recordings, with an emphasis on using the human voice and its many transformations, to tell narratives not dissimilar to radio drama or musique concrete. His work is largely recognized in avant-garde, sound art, or electro-acoustic styles. Hodell recorded all of his works in collaboration with the Swedish Broadcasting commission; the most important of his works were reissued in the year 2000 on the Fylkingen label as a three-CD set which compiles the LPs which he released between 1963 and 1977. Included in these often politically rigorous works are noisy collage pieces such as "Structures III," which takes the sound of battles from both world wars, and "General Bussig (General Buddy Buddy)," a piece from 1963 that railed against the politics of compulsory military training. His often aggressive, polemic, and somewhat sarcastic works using voice collages place him in history way ahead of his time, a style that not be explored until the '80s by groups such as Negativeland and the "plunderphonics" artists such as Bob Ostertag. His work could be defined in the realm of electro-acoustic or avant-gardism, but is more closely associated with the ethics and aesthetics of the international syndication of conceptual artists known as Fluxus, the movement that produced Yoko Ono, La Monte Young, and Philip Corner.
Hodell was unique in that as a Swedish artist, the movements of the '60s avant-garde followed a different trajectory to other European Schools of Contemporary Classical music. Being that his work was largely made for Radio-phonic broadcast, the reception of his work was much broader than the small academic community that embraced his contemporaries in America and Europe. Hence, his most recognized work Mr. Smith in Rhodesia from 1969 was banned due to its highly political content which protested the racist government led by prime minister Ian Smith. Elsewhere, "Where Is Eldridge Cleaver?" questions the vanishing of the Black Panther and leading ideologist of the black freedom movement, who was thought to be assassinated under Reagan's governorship in California. He used his compositions as a political voice and hence the cold war is the subject of "USS Pacific Ocean," a radio drama that involves a nuclear submarine running amok of the Californian coast and in his fantasia threatens to destroy America. He scarcely performed in the U.S.A. and made headlines in the British Press over accusations of using children to perform a piece ("Mr. Smith in Rhodesia") that was considered a criticism of the British empire. The same controversial work was given by Hodell as a gift to freedom movements in Africa in the '70s and broadcast on underground radio.
He worked closely with other text-sound composers, such as Henri Chopin, the prime mover of a genre which has since the '90s been re-presented on CD by the Italian label Algamargen who also published an LP of Ake Hodell's 220 Volt Buddah. His primary publisher was Fylkingen, who's three-CD set Verbal Brainwash and Other Works contains his entire discography. The collection was overseen by Hodell to it's final stages and was released shortly after his death. Those close to him, including his biographer and producer Mats Lindstrom, recognize that his work was of paramount concern up until his death, and this fact is exemplary of his commitment and vision. The uniqueness of his work makes him one of the most recognized composers of the text-sound style, and highly regarded Swedish Contemporary composer. ~ Sylvie Harrison, Rovi