#5 – 02 July, 2018
Welcome to the fifth edition of Nordic Music Scene, a monthly section within God is in the TV that is dedicated to reviews and news of artists from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and their associated territories, focusing on indie artists and labels.
In this edition: Magnus the Magnus, Emilie Nicolas, Azure Blue, When ‘Airy met Fairy, Dolores Haze, Highasakite, Wildhart, Frøkedal, Polar Prize report, Iselin, Lokoy, Das Body, Sauropod, boerd, Vera, Joel Malka, Trevis, Travelling John, HUMAN, Manuela Iwansson.
Sections: Singles/Singles ‘shorts’/ EPs/Albums/News
All the editions of Nordic Music Scene are stored under ‘Features’ on the GIITTV website or can be located by searching for ‘Nordic Music Scene’
Magnus the Magnus (Sweden) – It Don’t Impress Me
I can quite imagine a Viking with that name making a similar observation about Britain in the 8th Century after wading ashore at Lindisfarne. Not to mention Shania Twain, who must have the patent on that phrase. This particular Magnus has taken a previously released track, ‘Area’, which featured in syncs for Apple, Nike, Cartier and Netflix through 2017 and 2018, and reinvigorated it with dub/jungle edit swagger and the voice of Gambian Madi Banja.
He’s won a Grammy for his work in the past though I don’t know if that’s a U.S. or Scandinavian one, and gained millions of streams with this track, also with ‘Keep On Lovin’ (ft. Seinabo Sey) and ‘Realligator ‘. Magnus is part of the studio collective @Goodfatherstudios, along with some other notable producers/artists like Sebastian Ingrosso and Vargas & Lagola. This Swedish production force has collaborated – producing and writing songs – for artists such as Seinabo Sey and Mapei.
One of the more impressive features of the track is the synthesised arpeggiation at the beginning and it’s a shame there isn’t more of it. That said, it’s an arresting attempt to fuse digitalised and dub/reggae styles.
‘It Don’t Impress Me’ was issued on 1st June 2018 on Sweden Music/Universal Music.
Dolores Haze (Sweden) – Banana
You’ve got to hand it to the Stockholm-based lo-fi punk/noise rockers. Naming your band after the illegal object of Humbert Humbert’s desires in Lolita is going to get you noticed, at least by the chattering classes.
As does naming your new single ‘Banana’, which I recall was one of a trilogy of gay-life-in-Manchester TV dramas on Channel 4 a few years ago, along with ‘Cucumber’ and ‘Tofu’. Neither the band’s name nor the song title leaves any less to the imagination then the TV series titles.
In fact this banana wasn’t inspired by sexual exploits but by quite the opposite, the rejection of them by the #MeToo movement.
Lead singer Groovy Nickz (what else?) takes us down the road of sexual consent, a little hand on the video waving a message that clearly says “no means no” (then inverts to become male tackle) as she sings “I might wanna talk to your mama (your ding dong dangle), I don’t wanna see your banana”. The remainder of the track, delivered out of character in an easy-going reggae/hip-hop style with a memorable whistled six/eight-note hook, is a series of one-liners and double-entendres that are humorous but not laugh-out-loud funny.
Part way through she sings “Let me show you a slo-mo, in the club going solo, don’t you see I’m a pro Joe, and you show me your little toe?” It’s amusing in an embarrassing fashion. Then the next quatrain is a more serious comment on the casting couch: “In the land of the groovy, I’m the beast and the beauty, I’m the star of the movie, there’s no room for groupies” (dirty laugh). After that the remainder of the track fades out into repetition.
I’m not quite sure what to make of it. They’ve impressed the usual suspects towards the trendy end of the media spectrum with their irreverence but I’m not convinced that making light of this subject doesn’t actually open them to the accusation that the whole movement overstates it’s case; one that has brought about a backlash from the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and others who doubtless also knew what a casting couch was.
On the other hand it is entertaining, albeit in a smutty way.
Dolores Haze released their debut album ‘The Haze Is Forever’ in 2015, and won the award for “Best Rock” act at the P3 Guld-Award, as well as two nominations at the Swedish GRAMMYS.
‘Banana’ is released by Warner Music Sweden.
Highasakite (Norway) – Elastic State of Mind
True to their word Highasakite have released another single, following ‘Out of Order’, which was reviewed in Nordic Music Scene #3, as they build towards a third international album release towards the end of the year and an accompanying tour. (Two dates, in Stockholm and London, have been advertised so far).
That’s where the good news ends though I’m afraid as, with a heavy heart, I have to say that what is possibly my favourite band hasn’t quite reached the high standards I expect from them with ‘Elastic State of Mind’.
It lacks the immediacy of ‘Out of Order’, there isn’t the striking melody or clever bridge they usually shine at, there is a little too much repetition, and the track is built out of sudden explosive shifts into big synths and booming drums in much the same way as the previous single but less convincingly.
It has its saving graces of course. There is a powerful synth bass line early on and Ingrid Helene Håvik’s engagingly rambling lyrics are back in full bloom as she insists she wants “none of those games, love”, compares crossing the desert to making a copy of a copy and sings about tearing someone’s clothes off.
The more I listened to it the more I thought it could possibly become a disco banger and that is something of a concern in itself. Ingrid has said that she yearns to get back to understanding why she makes music at all; something that came naturally to her on their first international, and record-breaking, album ‘Silent Witness’. But fans that are waiting for another poignant ‘Hiroshima’ or ‘The Man on the Ferry’ or a new ‘Science and Blood Tests’ not to mention the seminal ‘Lover, where do you live’ (all from ‘Silent Witness’) will be disappointed that ‘Elastic State of Mind’ has shifted further away from those introspective ballads than ever.
It occurred to me that what might have gone missing are the checks and balances afforded by the now departed Skar, Lo and Eberson, each of them top-class song writing collaborators and expert musicians on a variety of instruments in their own right. Fundamentally, what we’re down to now is synths and drums and it shows.
For those reasons the next single has taken on greater significance in indicating Highaskite’s future direction.
Iselin (Norway) – Bath Tub
Iselin Solheim is best known for providing the (uncredited) vocals to Alan Walker’s monumental 2015 EDM hit ‘Faded’ (one and three quarter billion You Tube views alone); also to his ‘Sing to Me’ but hasn’t really carved out the same reputation for herself so far. Incidentally, she was a student at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts which may at least partly explain the high numbers of other Norwegian’s aspiring to study in that city.
It seems she suffered a crisis of confidence recently and during a particularly stressful series of recording sessions retired to a hot bathtub where she was suddenly seized with the inspiration to write this song.
Taking that inspiration back to the studio she found a musical affinity with the idea of taking a moment to find some serenity in each day; meditation some might call it. The song itself became the therapy.
It’s a minimalistic production, where her admirable voice takes centre stage. A little sugary perhaps and fairly formulaic pop with undemanding lyrics (“I don’t need no drama na,na,na, I’m gonna keep it simple la, la, la”), I couldn’t get Kylie out of my mind (“Where are you now… Pete Waterman?”…). But there is always an audience for effervescent pop songs of this nature and I’m sure it will be successful.
She occupies a different space to Norwegian female singer-songwriters who are already well-known in the UK such as Sigrid and Aurora and those that will be such as Emilie Nicolas, Dagny and Ary, which also counts in her favour.
Apparently there is a great deal of new material to follow, so we will be hearing more of Iselin.
Lokoy (Norway) ft. Girl in Red – Malibu
Lokoy is Lasse Lokøy, the bassist from what is probably Norway’s and possibly Scandinavia’s leading pop-punk band, Sløtface. Somehøw he managed to løse the Norwegian ø from his performing name but it fits UK, U.S. and mainland European markets better, of course. (Sløtface was previously Slutface – it’s all in the semantics).
It isn’t clear why he chose to pursue a solo side project at this time; there is no hint of any break-up by Sløtface. He recorded the song while on the road on tour with Sløtface in 2017, and it is utterly different from the band’s riotous, infectious and highly tuneful output. It combines Indian folk rhythms, analog synth pads and cellos, with a wide range of sampling. Apparently, if you listen carefully you can hear some familiar sounds from airports and cell phones as well.
I tried but I couldn’t and I think the reason for that is that there is just a little too much going on. It’s too busy, as the saying goes. It’s a game effort though, highly experimental and a VAR decision away from his usual band duties (though Lokøy is a very accomplished bassist). The lyrics are intriguing; part weather forecast, part fashion statement. It puts down a marker that he takes an intellectual approach to song writing and the complexity does dissipate a little as a function of multiple plays.
The track features the partnering vocal of Girl in Red (Marie Ulven), whose bedroom productions have tallied multi-million streams in just a few months. The track is mixed by Odd Martin Skalnes, who also hails from Norway’s West Coast (Sløtface are from oil town Stavanger), and who is known for recent work with (again) Sigrid and Aurora.
Malibu’ was issued on June 22nd via Propeller Recordings and is the first in a string of singles which will culminate in the release of his debut EP ‘Go To Bed’ on September 21st.
Das Body (Norway) – Boys
East Oslo-based band Das Body has recently signed to Luminelle Records (for a “Millionkontrakt” according to their Facebook page), and their debut single is this summery odd-pop dance track ‘Boys’. I should point out that it is not a cover of the well-known Charli XCX song and that soon becomes evident though the same fundamental underlying tenet is there. In this case, it’s summer (presumably), as “ The sun will shine when I pick up boys”.
Or at least she will, meaning Ellie Linden. Das Body is a four-person band with one female – Ellie – but it is a band name not a reference to her though on she appears to be the subject of this song.
They all hail from a fairly downbeat suburb of grey apartment blocks and their collective objective (pardon the assonance) is to “have fun”, which again is evident in this track. Not for the first time in NMS do I draw a comparison with Mungo Jerry’s iconic 1970 hit ‘In the Summertime’ – a different type of song entirely (and the MJs inhabited a pleasant suburb not what Linden calls “a grungy little city that wants to be big”) but they had similar summery thoughts on their mind, in their case picking up girls.
Das Body are well known in Norway, play the major festivals, and seemingly will be at the big one, Øya, this August.
Every 14-year girl in Norway will be up for this one. Will it go down well internationally? Possibly, it starts off like it could be a new Lionel Richie song, which attracts attention; and the vocal hook is pretty well there. And it’s just the right length.
Das Body’s EP will be announced as NMS is published.
Sauropod (Norway) – Headed
The lizard-hipped dinosaurs are back with another rip-roaring rocker, a follow up to ‘I know where you’ve been,’ which was reviewed last month.
It is pretty much a case of the same format for the Oslo trio, it is punky, there is a very strong melody line and it is perfect for dancing or banging your head to. ‘Headed’ is slightly lighter in tone than its saucy predecessor but the big difference is the two bridges, the first a straight guitar break and the second, which immediately follows it and provided by Kamilla Waal Larsen, a softly whispered section that is quite out of context with the rest of the song.
Lead vocalist here, Jonas Røyeng, sounds quite like Feargal Sharkey.
As usual with Sauropod there is a convoluted reasoning behind the lyrics, which concern “getting away from people with hazardous attitudes who try to bring you with them, if you let your guard down. Sometimes the best thing to do is to get the hell out of there and start over” according to Jonas.
The band are currently preparing for an extensive touring schedule starting later this year, as well as writing for the release of their first album which will be in 2019.
Singles – Shorts
A collection of new tracks we haven’t had time to listen to thoroughly what with the World Cup and all, but perhaps you should? Some artists have featured in NMS previously.
boerd (Sweden) – Void
Featuring in NMS #2 (April 2018) Bård Ericson, stylised and known as boerd or Bård has just dropped this new video to celebrate hitting the Top 10 in the iTunes electronic album charts in the UK, USA and Australia.
The new single ‘Void’ is a song about a state of loneliness, the isolated four walls of a studio and features Stockholm-based producer Ellen Arkbro on vocals. boerd’s first mini-LP dropped this spring on London’s AnjunaDeep independent label.
Vera (Sweden) – Bottoms Up
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to Zara Larsson and quite a few people seem to have made that mistake with this new single from Vera Carlbom, a provocative young “cocky pop” R ‘n B- and Trap-influenced artist whose objective is to smash a male dominated industry. She has “Eat Shit” tattooed on her arm and it’s aimed at “bitter men taking up her space”. Good luck with that then. She wrote the song following a “messy break up” at the tender age of 17. Her first demo, it got her signed to a label.
The almost 100,000 views this has had in less than two weeks may be down to the ‘Larsson factor’ or it may equally be because it’s a very good track.
Joel Malka (Sweden) – Dead to the World
Joel Malka usually writes and produces for others, including the likes of Tommy Brown (Ariana Grande, Black Eyed Peas, Macy Gray) but has opted to step into the limelight himself with this debut track ‘Dead To The World’.
His mellow production style has been one of his selling points and it is evident here in a song reminiscent of Frank Ocean.
Trevis (Norway) – Way you do it
Latino-inspired Scandi –pop? Yep, that is what is on offer from 19-year old Trevis from Oslo, who is influenced by Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. Apparently it was written at 4am in Spain with a couple of producers who have worked with Ariana Grande (again) and Ne-Yo amongst others.
Trevis’ family were keen travellers and visits to over 100 countries have shaped his sound.
It won’t do for him what ‘Despacito’ did for Luis Fonsi but it’s catchy.
Travelling John (Sweden) – It Burns
A neat piece of Americana from Sweden’s Travelling John (John Dunsö) who quit his career as the guitarist in one of Sweden’s biggest indie pop bands Billie the Vision and the Dancers to fulfil his dream of making a solo album and travel the world. As it happens his voyage was limited mainly to North and South America but he employed his time usefully, hitchhiking, busking and working on organic farms. He also wrote songs for his debut solo album that will be released September 28th, 2018 and they were recorded in multiple locations.
This particular song is about facing your fears even though you risk getting hurt along the way. It’s a dialogue between two opposite personalities. One restless soul; and a homebody with her heart on her sleeve. She is Sofia Janninge, also from Billie the Vision and the Dancers.
Dunsö successfully combines traditional C&W style song writing with modern Indie. Hollywood thinks so too. The song is earmarked for a film, Oildale, to be released later in 2018.
HUMAN (Sweden) – Being/Tomorrow (double A-side)
The Swedish Grammy-nominated Daniel Adams-Ray appeared in NMS #3 with ‘R-O-B-O-T’ and they return with this double A-side.
The philosophy behind HUMAN is one of the duality of human nature and he embraces the ideology of a collective consciousness, so that “HUMAN is not a person or band, it’s a collective: it is me and whoever is involved, including you”.
‘Being’. The video for ‘Tomorrow’ is not currently available in the UK.
Manuela Iwansson (Sweden) – Dream Lover
Manuela Iwansson used to sing with Malmö rockers Terrible Feelings but one weekend she gathered some friends and recorded ‘Dream Lover’, which is also the title of her EP; her first solo effort. It was released on June 15th via Lack of Sleep Records.
The setting is a 1980s ballroom, where dream lovers navigate a dream world of imminent longing. A place where death and desire take turns leading; while clinging on to time that fades. Evocative of Ultravox or Spandau Ballet, perhaps even ABC, but, Sauropod apart, it’s the hardest-rocking track in these pages this month if a little repetitive towards the end.
Wildhart (Sweden) – Caught in a Fisheye
Sample track – Every Touch (ft. Nadia Nair)
No apologies for including Wildhart (Ylva Holmdahl and Kiwi Berg) for the second month running. The Gothenburg band really caught my attention with the single ‘New Beginning’ last time out, a track that, like ‘Every Touch’ is included on their new EP ‘Caught in a Fisheye’, released on 29th June.
Featuring a fellow Swede, Nadia Nair, ‘Every Touch’ is a more experimental piece, which successfully pairs abrasive synths with soothing strings and Ylva Holmdahl’s attention grabbing vocals. Holmdahl describes the song as being about “a moment you want to freeze – and stay inside forever.” I’m not sure what that means but I’m happy to listen to the track until the message hits home.
The strings contribution came from former Wildhart member Josefin Runsteen.
Of the other tracks, ‘Over & Over’ features more experimentation, perhaps a little too much, with background synths that could be the soundtrack to Plan 9 from Outer Space or Quatermass and the Pit. ‘Anthem’ follows a similar path but is enlivened by Holmdahl’s strident vocals. ‘Love’ is more relaxed; a ballad indeed, sung an octave or so higher than the previous tracks and with a beat that sounds remarkably like the Hues Corporation’s ‘Rock the Boat’. There’s a gorgeous simple piano mid-end section where the synths are perhaps just a little too intrusive bit that’s splitting hairs. The final track is untitled and again experimental in nature.
Throughout, Holmdahl’s lyrics are challenging and focused.
The standout track is ‘New Beginning’ with its simple play-by-numbers synth line, sparse but booming percussion and an exquisite multi-voice closing section that gives me goose bumps, but the entire EP, a more contained piece than its wilder predecessor, the debut full-length album ‘Shine,’ is worth seeking out. Something tells me it’s only a matter of time – or a tour – before Wildhart become justifiably far better known in this country.
- Over & Over
- Every Touch
- New Beginning
Emilie Nicolas (Norway) – Tranquille
(Sample track Wild One)
Emilie Nicolas released her second album ‘Tranquille Emile’, on June 1st, four years after that of her critically acclaimed debut full length ‘Like I’m a Warrior’.
Nicolas has been on the scene since debut single ‘Pstereo’ in 2013, followed by ‘Like I’m a Warrior’ (2014) which went straight to number one on the Norwegian album chart. She subsequently went on to receive two Spellemann awards (the Norwegian Grammy), in the Best New Artist category and Best Pop Act category.
Noted for an intriguing stage presence she toured the album around Europe, identifying herself as a leading member of the new generation of Norwegian artists that have brought themselves to the attention of a much bigger audience in recent years.
But illness intervened, and nothing further was heard from her until January 2017 when a stand-alone single, ‘Sky’ was released. Now, 18 months later, she returns with a full album which was crafted through an open and inclusive process involving producer Eivind Helgerød, several other producers, many of her friends and artist colleagues, more than 20 different musicians altogether and a large choir, featuring Norwegian soul star Jarle Bernhoft.
It has been compared with the work of a range of other artists, the UK’s FKA Twigs foremost amongst them and that is evident in the short sample track here, ‘Wild One’, in which instead of being the bad boy’s bitch she virtually fosters him like a well-meaning granny. I’m not convinced of the need for the casual use of the word “motherfucker” though, one that’s right out of the Twigs songbook. Strong language loses its impetus when tossed around nonchalantly, in any medium.
On other tracks she details further examples of the male-female relationship. On ‘Future’ she reflects on the early moments of a new love while ‘String’ is a dysfunctional pop banger telling a dysfunctional love story.
‘Dark Matter’ sounds like something Holly Herndon ought to be performing and is accordingly the most experimental track, especially in its bridge. ‘Roots’ transports us to her bewilderment of the universe, the meaning of life and raises the inevitable existential questions.
The six-minute long ‘Feel Fine’ has been compared already to Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ – with its honest lyrics (“I’m such a loser, can’t keep anything”) the hypnotic sound and its overall composition. Probably the “must-listen-to” track on the album, for the casual listener.
Emilie has her own unique sound, a sort of electronic, jazz, R&B blend but I’ve remarked previously that there’s a distinct “Norwegian” sound evolving, in which many of the artists employ techniques that have been perfected by their peers and you can hear them on this album as artists as diverse as Aurora and Highasakite seem suddenly to “pop up” out of nowhere. I keep coming back, too, to Fiona Apple and how influential that hibernating Californian can be despite her lengthy absences from this world. There are two instances at least on this album of the ultra-fast rat-a-tat vocal delivery that Apple excels at and Nicolas does a pretty good impression.
Her voice is capable of conveying emotions such as excitement, fear, defiance and nonchalance all in the same breath. An armoury such as that equips you well to combine the darker and lighter sides of life and love in your songs with warmth, melancholy, grace and soul and Nicolas does it to perfection.
Azure Blue (Sweden) – ‘Fast Falls the Eventide’
Sample tracks – Crimson Red, My Final Candle, Don’t Turn Me, Whatever ‘18
Azure Blue is the solo project of Stockholm-based Tobias Isaksson, who released three dream pop albums between 2011 and 2015. The fourth album, ‘Fast Falls the Eventide’ was released on 22nd June and is darker in tone and lyrics than its predecessors. Four preview tracks were made available to Nordic Music Scene/GIITTV.
The first one, ‘Crimson Red’, sounds like it might occupy the opposite place from Azure Blue on the colour spectrum and carries hints of 1980s Pet Shop Boys. There are a couple of disconcerting moments when Tobias seems to make reference to “you wankers” but perhaps it’s just time for a new set of headphones. Or ears. Surely I misheard it.
‘My Final Candle’ carries on where Crimson Red left up, ramping up its anthemic synthesisers, drums and vocals even further. There’s no dreaminess here, it’s a full-on synth-pop number with a strong melody line which quickly has you craving a session of TOTP2 on BBC2, circa 1982. A classic of its type.
‘Don’t Turn Me’, by comparison, in something of a plodder, the sort of track Erasure might have rejected, but saved by a 60-second other-wordly outro that Jean-Michel Jarre or M83 would be proud of. It’s worth checking out the track just for that.
‘Whatever ‘18’ is the first single from the album and slows the pace down considerably but none of the enveloping anthem is lost.
The album as a whole is a sonic tale about being “true to yourself”. Isaksson produced, played, and mixed almost every detail of the album himself though on several tracks there are guest vocalists including notable Swedish artists Peter Morén (Peter Bjorn & John), The Land Below, Paola, César Vidal (Caesars), Julia Boman, and Tangela.
From this brief sample, just four of 11 tracks, the album comes across as moody, both contemporary and dated, and surprisingly cool.
Full track listing:
1. Linje 18
2. New Moon
3. Crimson Red
4. My Final Candle
5. Love Will See You Through
6. Post Affect
7. Don’t Turn Me On
8. Erratic Motion
9. Whatever ‘18
10. Beneath The Sphere
11. And Then You Came Along That Road
The album was released by Matinée Recordings. http://matineerecordings.com/
When ‘Airy met Fairy (Iceland) – Glow
Featured in edition #4 of Nordic Music Scene, When ‘Airy met Fairy are Mike Koster (Luxembourg) and Thorunn Egilsdottir (Iceland), who is the main songwriter. They formed in 2015, isn’t clear who is who but he’s hairy while she isn’t, and Thorunn’s singing voice can be quite fairy-like so I guess that explains it.
Thorunn has said that she finds the music business to be “lavish and over-produced.” Accordingly, she tries to “take a step back and reduce it to nothing” – minimalist but subtle, with layers as if they’re baking a cake.
When I reviewed the single ‘Until your Season dries’ I pointed out that her voice is a coming together of the styles of several well known singers and above all Regina Spektor. And you can hear not only the Muscovite’s voice but also her style right from the start in opening track ‘1,2,3, Magic.’ That’s not to criticise Thorunn, I’m sure she doesn’t intend to do that and it’s a pleasant enough sound anyway. Many of her soprano notes are exquisite.
I don’t know if it’s just my copy of the album but there’s a crunching noise between each of the tracks. Perhaps there is some subtle intent there too or maybe the lid kept coming off the baking tray but that’s where the excitement ends; while occasionally haunting, this is one of the most soothing and life-affirming albums you’ll ever hear. The tracks are mainly short; none outstay their welcome and most leave you wanting more.
The instrumentation is predominately acoustic and as underplayed as the lyrics, featuring a xylophone (frequently) soft strings, simple piano melodies, accordion, harmonica, on one occasion I suspect, a harmonium and possibly even a theremin. Rarely does an organ intervene, let alone a synthesiser, but when they do nothing is merely for effect and everything is perfectly supportive.
Occasionally the pair moves upbeat, such as on ‘Intoxicated’ which is possibly the song with the strongest melody too, but surprisingly it has not yet been identified as a single.
The underlying themes though are of resolute, “we shall overcome” sadness or life affirmation. ‘Sanctify you’ is a song of mercifulness replete with a powerful church organ, while in ‘Daughter’ Thorunn sings an honest mother-to-daughter soliloquy, conversely to the strongest beat so far in an album of lullabies.
The choral, organ-backed ‘Bones’ concerns post-divorce melancholia while ‘When your season dries’ I can only describe as understated sadness. In ‘The Breach’ Thorunn goes into Kate Bush mode though never quite straying onto the wiley, windy moor.
‘Carcass’ is the most powerful track, a straight-to-the-point “love” song with the candour of Lail Arad, apparently directed at a deceased lover, while the album ends with the next single, ‘When I’m Old’ which boldly states that love never dies anyway, despite the ageing process, in the only track to build to a climax. It also contains the only lyric not in English. The final line is “ást veldu mig, taktu mig með þér heim”, Icelandic for “love choose me; take me home with you”.
Little samples seem to be dotted around; a tiny snatch of an indeterminate Dire Straits track, a pinch of piano notes from Michael Jackson’s much maligned ‘Earth Song.’ Or, is it just the reviewer’s imagination running wild? The music is so pleasantly soporific and Thorunn’s voice so tender, the mind starts to wander.
They won’t be supporting Swans or My Bloody Valentine that’s for sure but hand on heart, I’ve been driving around with this album playing for the last week or so and if you’re anything like me it will creep up on you slowly but surely until you’re hooked.
Full track listing:
- 123 Magic
- Sanctify You
- Until Your Season Dries
- The Breach
- When I’m Old
‘Glow’ was released in Europe last year and in the UK on June 22nd.
Frøkedal to release second album on August 31st – European tour planned
Norwegian singer-songwriter Anne Lise Frøkedal, whose ‘Treehouse’ single was featured last month, will release her second album ‘How we made it’ on August 31st.
Well known as, and self-acknowledged as, a control freak she admits to making a painstaking 20 versions of the album track list alone before deciding on its final form.
Frøkedal actually has much to live up to with this album, her debut 2016 effort ‘Hold On Dreamer’, having been praised highly in the international press. In my own review of that album and a live show in Manchester I observed that she has the capability to write and perform songs that instantly conjure up the assorted likes of Kate Bush, Susanne Sundfør and even Judith Durham (of The Seekers) in your mind, while her own smouldering voice and wistful lyrics and delivery identify her as a character in her own right.
Having been presented with the opportunity to hear the new album well before its release date I can confirm that there is a greater diversity in the sound than on ‘Hold On Dreamer’, which was essentially a minimalist acoustic album despite the presence of her trademark gold coloured Telecaster.
That isn’t to say that her Familien (“the Family”) of five musicians don’t figure on this album. They are very much in evidence with their collection of sometimes arcane instruments, it’s just that they deliver a more extroverted sound this time. One of the Family incidentally is Thea Glenton Raknes, (Thea and the Wild) whose own second album, ‘Ikaros’ was reviewed in GIITTV back in January.
The album is inspired by Frøkedal’s more “immature” personal traits as she describes them; impulsive thoughts and actions fuelled by everything from fear, love and deep passion to red hot anger, and most of those emotions appear in the very first song, ‘I Don’t Care’. It is perhaps suggestive of this new, more aggressive Frøkedal that she includes the line “Do you worry any minute I might become the c*** that you say I am?” on that opening song, as if she’s challenging the world to dislike someone who, if you chat to her, comes across as a woman in whose mouth butter wouldn’t melt.
The album will be reviewed in full immediately prior to its release. A full European tour is envisaged to coincide with that release but for the moment the only dates are from September to November, all in Norway.
Polar Music Prize – Metallica and the Afghan National Institute of Music are the 2018 laureates
The Polar Music Prize, the international award founded in 1989, and Sweden’s highest honour in the field of music, was awarded this year (June 14th) to thrash metal band Metallica and to Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, founder of the Afghan National Institute of Music. The award is annually given, with rare exceptions, to one contemporary musician and one classical musician “for significant achievements in music and/or musical activity, or for achievements which are found to be of great potential importance for music or musical activity”. The prize has been called the “Nobel Prize of Music” in Sweden and is presented by King Carl XVI Gustaf.
It’s founder, ABBA’s manager, Stig Anderson petitioned the Nobel Prize committee in the late 1980s to add a music award. When his idea was rejected, Anderson created his own award, the Polar Music Prize. First presented in 1992, the Prize has gone to many of the world’s greatest pop, classical and jazz artists, including Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, B. B. King, Ennio Morricone, Sting, Renée Fleming, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Yo-Yo Ma, Max Martin, Bob Dylan (who famously won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, a first for a musician), Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder, Patti Smith, Wayne Shorter, Björk and Isaac Stern.
Accepting the award, Metallica’s founder and drummer Lars Ulrich said that the type of music that Metallica plays was not supposed to be acknowledged or embraced by the mainstream, the media or even large audiences; he had “just wanted to play music in a collective setting and feel like I belonged to something bigger than myself”. The citation read, “Not since Wagner’s emotional turmoil and Tchaikovsky’s cannons has anyone created music that is so physical and furious, and yet still so accessible.”
Lars Ulrich and Robert Trujillo (Metallica) with the Polar Music Prize statuette
Photo by Annika Berglund courtesy of the Polar Music Prize website
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Sarmast said, “It was not too long ago that the Taliban forbade all music throughout Afghanistan and silenced our nation’s musical history….In recognition of the musicians who survived the silence (and) were forced to seek asylum abroad, and those who lost their lives upholding their musical rights, I raise this award in their honour.” The citation read that the award was “…in recognition of how this inspirational organisation has used the power of music to transform young people’s lives.”
Dr Ahmad Sarmast with the Polar Music Prize statuette
Photo by Annika Berglund courtesy of the Polar Music Prize website
In a way, that one award should go to an Afghan organisation this year is not surprising. One of the two 2017 winners, Sting, donated his prize money, close to £100,000, to Songlines, an organisation that offers young refugees in Sweden access to integrated music activities while helping to bridge cultural gaps that may exist after their relocation from countries such as Afghanistan and Syria. Songlines arranged a special performance at the Gefle Gas concert two weeks previously http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2018/06/06/festival-report-gefle-gas-2018/ and one of the performing musicians there, the pianist Ehsan Yaghoobi, also played at Polar Talks, a full day ‘meet the laureates’ event the day before the Polar Prize, to great applause.
And finally…never a dull moment with Lula as the Swedish lads issue a 3D single
Swedish pop-punk band Lula whose frustration at their lack of airplay on Sveriges Radio (Sweden’s equivalent of the BBC), prompted them to play an impromptu show in its entrance hall in Stockholm last month, never let an opportunity to promote themselves go begging.
Now they have released “the world’s first three dimensional digital single”. The single ‘Now In 3D’ features three versions of the band’s hit ‘Bright Eyes’ in three different languages; English, German and Spanish, but with the same backing tracks. When played simultaneously, the songs create a three dimensional experience for the listener.
Main Photo of Das Body by Hsiang Hsiang Wang courtesy of Das Body Facebook page