At the turn of the '60s, Lee Hazlewood
decided to leave America for Sweden. He had already spent time in the country, appearing as an actor in two television productions, so his decision wasn't completely out of the blue -- especially since he had become close with the Swedish artist/filmmaker Torbjörn Axelman. The year that he arrived in Sweden, he starred in Axelman's television production Cowboy in Sweden
and cut an album of the same name. Judging by the album alone, the film must have been exceedingly surreal, since the record exists in its own space and time. At its core, it's a collection of country and cowboy tunes, much like the work he did with Nancy Sinatra
, but the production is cinematic and psychedelic, creating a druggy, discombobulated sound like no other. This is mind-altering music -- the combination of country song structures, Hazlewood
's deep baritone, the sweet voices of Nina Lizell
and Suzi Jane Hokom
, rolling acoustic guitars, ominous strings, harpsichords and flutes, eerie pianos, and endless echo is stranger than outright avant-garde music, since the familiar is undone by unexpected arrangements. Though the songs are all well-written, Cowboy in Sweden
is ultimately about the sound and mood it evokes -- and it's quite singular in that regard.