Philemon Arthur and the Dung
Philemon Arthur and the Dung
To this day, fans and the music press alike perpetuate various hypotheses as to their identity. "Philemon Arthur" and "The Dung", next-door neighbors living in an unspecified town in Scania, Sweden, first began playing music together in 1962. At this time, they were known as The Popbeams. "Philemon Arthur" would play an accordion, or an old guitar he had borrowed but never returned, while "The Dung" would accompany him on a custom-built drum kit composed of household items. Eventually, the group came to be known as "The Dung"; during a jam session in 1968, one of the members repeatedly sang the words "Philemon Arthur", which gave them the idea to combine these two names. Throughout the late 60s and early 70s, they recorded several songs on two different lo-fi tape recorders owned by "Philemon Arthur", who is credited with writing all of their released songs.
The primarily guitar- and accordion-oriented songs were typically accompanied by percussion performed on all manner of household items, such as pots, pans, cookie jars, and a radiator. Lead vocals were performed by both "Philemon Arthur" and "The Dung", though a select number of songs feature vocal contributions from other unnamed indidividuals. At the end of the 1960s, they sent tapes of their recordings to, among others, the radio program Bandet går (a Swedish term for "recording in progress"), which gained them some exposure. Later, Träd, gräs och stenar forwarded a demo tape to the record label Silence, who signed Philemon Arthur and The Dung to a contract. Their self-titled debut album Philemon Arthur and the Dung was recorded in 1971 at the house of the grandmother of one of the band members, under supervision from Silence representative Anders Lind.
Released later that year, it was no commercial success (nor was it intended to be; their primary demographic turned out to be already convinced fans). Despite this, the album went on to win the award for "Best Group Production" at the 1972 Grammis Awards, the Swedish equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Philemon Arthur and the Dung did not attend the actual ceremony itself; instead, they sent a pre-recorded tape containing their speech, which was played on a tape recorder on stage. The unprecedented award win caused a momentary collapse in the established music industry of Sweden, in effect causing the Grammis Awards to be put on indefinite hiatus. Fifteen years later, in a strange coincidence with the resurgence of the Grammis Awards in 1987, Silence released Skisser över 1914 års badmössor (Sketches of the Showercaps of 1914), a cassette tape containing 24 songs recorded during the 1980s.
Philemon Arthur and the Dung had previously expressed dislike towards the relatively high sound quality of their first album, and went so far as to claim to have lost the feel and sound of what they were trying to accomplish; as a result, the songs on this tape were recorded using different technology, resulting in what they called "real Philemon distortion". At the time of its release, they claimed to not having played together for several years. The cassette tape was released sealed inside a tin can which required the usage of a can opener to open. In 1991, Philemon Arthur and the Dung forwarded a demo tape by bob hund, fans of the group, to Silence Records, resulting in a recording contract for the band. In 1992, Silence released Musikens historia del 1 och 2 (The History of Music, Parts 1 and 2), a compilation consisting of the entirety of Philemon Arthur and the Dung, and select songs from Skisser över 1914 års badmössor.
On the back of the CD cover was provided an alternate track listing, the purpose of which remains unknown. In 2002, Silence released Får jag spy i ditt paraply? (May I Vomit in Your Umbrella?), advertised as "The Very Pest of Philemon Arthur and the Dung". The album consisted of previously unreleased songs, along with the songs from Skisser över 1914 års badmössor which were not included on Musikens historia del 1 och 2. In 2010, the documentary Orkestern uten ansikte (The Orchestra Without a Face) premiered. Originally, the film's purpose was to ascertain the identities and whereabouts of Philemon Arthur and the Dung; however, out of respect for the artists' wish to remain anonymous, the film's focus shifted to the band's history and how they affected the Swedish music industry. Many groups, among them fellow artists who were part of the progg movement, have cited Philemon Arthur and the Dung as an influence.
Their lyrical content ranged from complete nonsense and obscenities, to social commentary about hunting, the expenditure of natural resources, sadism, and more. Over 40 years later, they are considered pioneers and icons of Swedish progressive music, and remain mysterious cult heroes of Swedish music. On the opposite end of the spectrum, they still have some detractors who blame them for the partial collapse of the musical establishment. The only confirmed photo of the group features the duo wearing masks; art and liner notes for their releases often feature images of youths, whose full faces are usually obscured in one way or another, which are believed to depict "Philemon Arthur" and "The Dung"; an example of this is the front cover for Får jag spy i ditt paraply, which depict two young boys in costumes, whose faces are obscured by the band logo. The back cover of Philemon Arthur and the Dung (and by extent, Musikens historia del 1 och 2, which re-uses the same artwork) features a drawing of two unidentified young boys; the front is ostensibly a drawing of a photograph of Martin Kann, the cover art designer. Many hypotheses regarding their true identities have been made, a prevalent one being that they are Mikael Wiehe and Thomas Wiehe, who would become influential figures in the progg movement into which Philemon Arthur and the Dung are often pigeonholed.
They are also believed to have been members of fellow progg groups Risken finns or the aforementioned Träd, gräs och stenar. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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