Nordic Music Scene #14 – News and reviews from across Scandinavia and the Nordic countries

Nordic Music Scene #14 – News and reviews from across Scandinavia and the Nordic countries

Welcome to the 14th 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.

This month sees the return after a four-year hiatus of Norway’s indie bangers Team Me; a remarkable singer from the Faroe Islands who is streaming for the first time; an exclusive single from a fast-rising Swedish artist widely compared to both P J Harvey and Patti Smith; a Swedish ode to Ian Curtis; and a Danish café worker who could be Adele. Actually, quite a few Danes this month.

In this edition: Amanda Tenfjord, Moddi, Rainbrother, Sasha Siem, Team Me, Pom Poko, Eivør, Snoh Aalegra, Masasolo, Ida Wenøe, Gud Jon, Sofia Härdig, Tedeborg ft. Ida Long, Vilde, Dominique Tey, Iceage, Winnie Raeder, Little Winter, Insomniac Bears, Gloomiest songs from the happiest country in the world – Finland! Breaking – Pussy Riot members win Swedish asylum appeal

Sections this month: New Singles/Singles from previously featured artists/EPs/Live/Albums/News

Singles, EPs and albums are now rated out of 10.

All the editions of Nordic Music Scene are stored under ‘Features’ on the GIITTV website or can be located by searching the website for ‘Nordic Music Scene’.

If you like it, please tell your colleagues friends about it. If you don’t, tell me!

Singles

(Sweden) Sofia Härdig – Silence (EXCLUSIVE TO NORDIC MUSIC SCENE)

Sofia Härdig releases her single ‘Silence’ on 3rd May but NMS is proud to have exclusive access to it, at least for 48 hours, because there is a big demand for her. It isn’t often that I quote other publications but this lady has accrued support in droves from the likes of Rolling Stone (“the same sort of absolute urgency that Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine once had”) and The Revue (“a future rock goddess”).

Tom Verlaine I know little about but ‘Silence’ absolutely throbs with the power of Smith, and of P J Harvey, another top artist with whom she has been compared. For some reason I’m also minded of Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity on ‘Wheels on Fire’ from back in the 1960s. It has that sort of power, and then some. And then it wraps up with a gospel chorus of the quality of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’.

Woodstock has its 50th anniversary this year, with a disappointing line-up for the show if you ask me. This lady should be there and if she had been at the original she would have closed the show with this, at nine o’clock on the Monday morning or whatever it was, elbowing Jimi Hendrix off the stage.  Okay, I’m exaggerating. But not by much.

The only little problem with ‘Silence’ that I have, preventing me from giving it 10/10, is that there is no bridge, and I’m a bridge lover, but I can’t find anything else to complain about so 9/10 it is and well deserved.

Despite her tag of “Sweden’s best-kept secret” she hasn’t come out of left field, having played with members of Sonic Youth, Hellacopters, Belle and Sebastian, The Cardigans, and Sweden’s cult Bob Hund, whose guitarist, John Essing, is a member of her band and has been co-producing Sofia’s new album.

Recently signed to the Comedia label which specialises in indie-pop and rock, the Malmö-based Sofia has toured all over Europe and it looks like she will be coming to the UK in the autumn. I can’t wait.

9/10

https://soundcloud.com/claesolson/sofia-hardig-silence/s-A7BQ1

(Norway) Moddi – Kriegspiel (from the album Like in 1968)

While we have showcased many artists from Norway’s Propeller Recordings label I do believe this is the first time for Moddi (full name Pål Moddi Knutsen).

He’s different from most of the other artists on that label and the subject matter of this track, ‘Kriegspiel’ is, too. ‘Kriegspiel’ (’Wargame’ in German) is the second single from Moddi’s forthcoming (and fifth) album ‘Like in 1968’, (September 13, 2019), the mere title of which suggests something revolutionary. It is billed as “a celebration of the future hope and everyday activism”.

On April 2nd the Norwegian border guard Frode Berg was brought to court in Moscow, to be prosecuted for espionage for the Norwegian e-service, specifically gathering information about Russian nuclear-powered submarines. It is expected that he will receive a long-term prison sentence.

Kriegspiel’ is a support song for Berg. Moddi says, reflecting on the influence that previous album ‘Unsongs’ had on the new single, “through the work on Unsongs, I learned that when someone wants you to shut up about something, it is usually something important that they’re trying to hide. Therefore, I wrote this song not only to Frode Berg, but to all who become victims of the politics shadow play”. He added, “I don’t care much about what he has or hasn’t done. He has given everything for Norway, and then one should expect that we also stand up for him”. 

‘Kriegspiel’ was originally written in connection with the performance artist Morten Traavik‘s exhibition ‘Borderlines’, which was removed last year after a few days in front of the entrance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moddi even participated in the opening with an explicit statement of support for Berg.

He’s the type of artist you would expect to have joined in on the Pillisnorks/Free Voices of Indie Sweden track which protests Swedish immigration policy, particularly in respect of Pussy Riot members and which was featured last month in NMS #13. He recorded his own version of Pussy Riot’s ‘Punk Prayer’ on the doorstep of a chapel right on the Norwegian/Russian border in 2016 and was subsequently “pressured” by Russian officials not to perform it at a concert in Kirkenes, again right on the Arctic border. He certainly seems to have a beef about Russia but was originally an environmental activist and an activist of any variety before he was a musician. Now he is Norway’s Bob Dylan, with a voice that falls between Donovan and Labi Siffre.

That said, he describes ‘Kriegspiel’ as “My cheeriest tune to date” despite it having one of the darkest backdrops. And he’s right; it is, though, somewhat incongruously, with a children’s choir appearing in the middle that might have been singing “GrandDad, we love you” to Clive Dunn. And it’s got Thunderclap Newman ‘Something In The Air’ chords in it as well.

I would give this 9/10 except that it inexplicably drops off and goes nowhere in an unnecessary musical bridge for about 30 seconds quite early on. So,

8/10

Kriegspiel’ was released on 29th March on Propeller Recordings.

In addition to releasing the new single and announcing his forthcoming album, Moddi is ready to go on a new tour in Norway, though no foreign dates have been advised yet.

(Norway) Team Me – The Future in your Eyes

Hard on the heels of Moddi comes another Propeller Recordings’ first for NMS, this time from Team Me. They released their ‘comeback single’ recently and this is the follow up to it.

Team Me had huge success from 2010 onwards, throughout Europe and Asia, both in recordings and as a live band, winning a Norwegian Grammy in 2012 and producing the best-selling indie album in Japan in the same year with To the Treetops! but things fell apart largely because of overwork and the band was ‘retired’ by its leader, founder, vocalist and front man Marius Drogås Hagen in 2015 so he could focus on song writing and studio work.

He spent subsequent years working in a music studio with a childhood friend, immersing himself in synthesisers, producing for artists such as Sløtface (also on the same label) and escaping to his forest cabin. It was perhaps there that he also subconsciously found the inspiration to bring life back to Team Me.

A year later he gathered a bunch of eight members who will convey both newly written songs and old pop favourites this summer. From the original crew there is Bjarne Alexander Ryen Berg, Simen Sandbæk Skari, Uno Møller Christiansen, Simen Schikulski, and Elida Inman Tjørve. In addition, Team Me is joined by Ofelia Østrem Ossum (Einar Stray Orchestra, Moddi) and Andreas Westhagen (Carnival Kids, Eye Emma Jedi).

So, four years on and they are back. Speaking of the band’s new chapter, Marius Hagen says “as for the music, I really want to be more focussed on documenting this time, rather than releasing an album and touring for three years on a campaign. I want the project to just be a way to let things out of my system.”

‘The Future In Your Eyes’ is “set in a distant post-apocalyptic future…(and)…tells the story of two cyborgs. They‘re fighting to hold on to their love, a love they can never have.”

Unrequited cyborg love; that’s a novel one. Could this lead to the further extension of LGBT initialisation? LGBTQIAC?  Nice to know they have the same problems as humans, “we’re not getting any younger” trills Hagen.

It is described as an electronic bop with romantic longing woven into the melodies, soft synths and tinged with nostalgia. I’d agree with that. It evokes a similar response in me to that for Moroder and Oakey’s 1980’s anthem ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ (whatever happened to Virginia Madsen?) and has a similar choker ending with the line “I can see the future in your eyes now/I can see the end of you and me.”

I didn’t think I was going to like this but with every play it has grown on me. I think that’s a lot to do with that ‘Electric Dreams’ connection, one of my favourites from the 1980s, but even so it still merits,

8/10

A national tour including festivals is planned in Norway and with shows in Japan in talks, but nothing yet for the UK.

 (Sweden) Snoh Aalegra – You

A fringe contribution this one in that R&B starlet  Snoh Aalegra was born in Sweden but now resides in Los Angeles.

We don’t have much background information on her.  She released her debut album in 2017, called FEELS, which was well received and this is her second release since then.

She says, “’You’ is a very special song to me. It’s about the unconditional love you have for that person you can’t live without. No matter how much pain they put you through, you’re always right back in their arms”.  Well that’s been the undoing of too many female singers so I hope she knows what she’s doing.

The song was produced by British artist/producer Compass, who has worked with FKA twigs and Jorja Smith.

I’ve mentioned before that, to me, modern R&B sounds robotic sometimes compared to the high quality work that preceded it but her delivery is distinctly soulful and in the higher ranges in particular she’s touching on Whitney Houston’s space. But that brings us to Bobby Brown…or was that somehow Snoh Aalegra’s intention? Just speculating.

7/10

(Denmark) Masasolo – You got that something

In the Team Me review earlier I mentioned ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ the 1980’s classic theme tune to the film in which a computer falls in love with a cello player. Hey ho, what do we have here? A song about falling in love with a girl on Instagram!

This one is from the Danish band Masasolo, described as one of Copenhagen’s secret gems for a while now. Their last album, At Sixes and Sevens, was voted amongst the 20 best Danish albums in 2017 by the Danish magazine Soundvenue.

“Distorted, biting fuzzy guitars, like a weird lovechild of Flaming Lips and Frank Ocean…but at the same time a straight and forward pop song” is how the publicity describes it and I concur. It seems a little slow and even monotonous early on but sharpens up considerably about two minutes in when even more layers of fuzziness are heaped on it. Then just when you think it’s going to ramp up even more it stops dead.

It needs a few listens to get into it, but merits,

7/10

(Sweden) Tedeborg ft. Ida Long – Ian Curtis reached heaven long before me

This is an interesting one. Originally released in Swedish as ‘Ian Curtis hann före mig till himlen’ the song by Tedeborg is a musical ode to Curtis in much the same way as the one to his label boss Anthony H Wilson that was released a couple of years ago in the UK.

Describing himself perhaps strangely as an “amateur musician, record publisher and singer songwriter” Tedeborg (full name Bengt O Tedeborg) says, “’Ian Curtis reached heaven long before me’ (is) a tribute to Joy Division but also a still image with the human vulnerability when the fear of others breaks all that their moral compasses are in focus.” Thanks to Google Translate for that one! (Facebook’s translation was hilarious). If you know what it means message me!

I’ve heard the Swedish version (it’s on Spotify) and while I didn’t understand most of it I liked it. But for the English version he co-opted one of my favourite artists, Ida Long, as vocalist (see NMS #13 for Long and her ‘Exorsisters’ winning the ‘Local Heroes’ prize). She brings some of her evocative stylisation to the chorus in particular.

What the song seems to be suggesting is that the writer reveres Curtis to the point where, understanding that the good always die young, he would have liked to have been there in heaven first to welcome him.

The reference to Warsaw (‘Human faces/a basement in the heart of Warsaw/ unsuspecting faces reappear/ In Warsaw / In Warsaw’) is an intriguing one. Warsaw was of course the first name that Joy Division played under, taken from Bowie’s song on the album ‘Low’. It was also a Joy Division song on their first EP which referenced the life of the Nazi leader Rudolph Hess. “Song of Songs” seems to refer to ‘Warsaw’ the EP track.

Who the “unsuspecting faces” which “reappear” are is anyone’s guess. There were many of them in his short time with us, none of whom seem to have suspected his true state of mind.

The musicianship is highly atmospheric too.

8/10

(Sweden) Vilde – Sardines

“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea” Eric Cantona informed us in 1995 subsequent to his kung fu kick at Crystal Palace and we are still waiting for an explanation of the le grand homme’s philosophie.

According to Vilde (Thomas Savage), an Australian immigrant to Sweden who has fronted bands in the UK (and I thought it was a female name in Sweden?) there won’t be any sardines left soon, as he takes a swipe at blasé attitudes to over-fishing.

It’s the first track taken from an album, ‘Fidget At The Podium’, which is set for a summer release and which ruminates on emotional connection through music.

Vilde’s alt-pop comes with all the right adjectives – sophisticated, twisted, dark, he’s compared to all the right people – Thom Yorke, TV on the Radio – and he talks about the joy of “yelling from my guts into a microphone, alone in my room”. I don’t hear a lot of yelling here and I can see how it is sophisticated but for me personally it’s a little too singular in its approach to hold my attention from beginning to end.

‘Sardines’ is self-produced and was released on April 17th

6/10

(Denmark) Iceage – Painkiller

A new video from Danish punk group Iceage for their song ‘Painkiller’, one of the tracks from their latest album Beyondless (out May 4th on Matador Records). Replete with sensory overload, the video was filmed between Tijuana, San Diego and L.A. and features a cameo from Sky Ferreira who also sings on the original song

Fun fact: the band parts were filmed in the garage of Instagram celebrity and Fiona Apple collaborator Lili Hayes (they jointly covered Sony & Cher’s ‘I got you babe’ in 2017 as well as Frankie Valli and Stevie Wonder).

They’ve been around since 2008 when they were all 17 and must hold some sort of record for the number of labels they’ve been associated with – seven and counting.

Fun fact 2: (this one is mine). Band member Elias Rønnenfelt’s middle name is Bender. That’s right up there with Rodney Charlton Trotter.

I’m not a punk or post-punk aficionado and had to listen a few times before it made an impact, which it did. Credit is due for the skilful use of woodwind/brass, so…

7/10

(Denmark/UK) Winnie Raeder – Don’t you dare

Just over a year ago Winnie Raeder was a coffee maker in a small café in Putney, Southwest London when she was “discovered” (I’d like to know by whom) in what is described as “a fortuitous coming together of events”. Born and raised in Aabenraa, Denmark and now residing in London, the 23 year old, singer/ songwriter takes pride in powerful and emotive story-telling.

Now she shares her debut single ‘Don’t You Dare’ (AE Records) and announces her first headline show in London.

She says, “It’s about someone leaving you and the denial you feel when it happens – the utter desperation you feel at not wanting to accept that person is leaving or has gone forever. For the production it was a very conscious choice to make it as simple as possible. Thinking of the story and what’s being said, the overall sense is one of numbing. When you feel numbed, it feels like everything stops. Silence. Space. I wanted to create that feeling sonically”.

I suppose the greatest kudos I can offer this song is that I can imagine Adele singing it, it’s almost tailor made for her. I hope she doesn’t cover it and steal her thunder. And the stripped back sparseness of both melody and lyric does the job Winnie set out to do, perfectly. The instrumentation too is spot on. The only trouble is that like the Tottenham chanteuse she has a slightly nasal delivery that obscures some of the lyrics, particularly when she soars.

Other than that, it’s great. I sense a supernova on the horizon.

9/10

There are two known gigs on the horizon, both in London and one as we go to print:

1st May – STIR Coffee Brixton, 111 Brixton Hill, Brixton, London SW2 1AA
3rd June – Headline Show, St Pancras Old Church

Any chance of coming oop north, luv?

(Denmark) Little Winter – Summer never ends/A moment of your time (from the EP Little Winter)

Well, it almost didn’t end here, last year, nor in Denmark I suppose. Little Winter’s two earlier singles from their self-titled EP that was launched on April 19th (Celebration Records) didn’t come to our attention so I focus here on them, namely ‘Summer Never Ends’ and A Moment of Your Time’.

Unfortunately, as a result of a Zip file malfunction, I’ve little to offer on the band’s background other than that they are a five-piece from Aarhus, which claims to be the music capital of Denmark (sorry, Copenhagen). They are described as nostalgic, ethereal and danceable, at the same time.

Perhaps I listened to the wrong track but I didn’t hear much that could be described as ethereal on ‘Summer Never Ends’. Nostalgic and danceable, yes, and with a dollop of shoegaze although I suppose that’s ethereal.

I took a moment of my time to check out A Moment of Your Time’ and that’s quite different. A more complex track that has a little of both Oasis and ‘Sergeant Pepper’ – era The Beatles about it as it builds towards a climax you don’t see coming when it first grinds into action.

On the strength of these two tracks, more particularly the second, I’d say this EP is certainly worth a listen.

7/10

(Full EP)

https://soundcloud.com/celebration-records/sets/little-winter-little-winter

Singles from previously featured artists

(Norway) Amanda Tenfjord – The Floor is Lava

Considering she’ll be appearing at Iceland Airwaves later this year performing this song there should be a given for Amanda Tenfjord as the venue floor might well be.

She’s moved on since she last figured in NMS, which was fairly recently (#10) with her EP, ‘First Impression’. Apart from Iceland Airwaves she will also be making her debut at The Great Escape and she is currently supporting label mates Highasakite around Norwegian arenas, having already played to sold-out crowds at Eurosonic, Trondheim Calling and by:Larm in 2019.

The song has a simple origin. I commented in the EP review that she is an observational songwriter and this particular one arose out of her watching a child’s game of hide and seek and how innocence determined that their only care in the world was not being seen. Her conclusion is that it would be wonderful if that somehow applied to adults as well. The nursery rhyme-like opening theme sets the scene for what is to come.

She is also branching out in the production department. This song was co-written by and has been produced by another label mate, Lasse Lokøy, bass player for Sløtface and who seems to me to do more work outside that band than in it at the moment though I hear they will release their second album this year.

Again, as I’ve said previously I’m not sure why she hasn’t really caught on here yet. You could say that for many top class Norwegian artists though, with the obvious exception of one, Sigrid of course, and perhaps the reason is that Amanda does still sound a little too much like her and perhaps needs to vary her style a little, set herself apart.

A worthy effort, all the same.

7/10

‘The Floor Is Lava’ is out now via Propeller Recordings, released March 29th.

(Denmark) Rainbrother – Honeybird

Danish psych band Rainbrother released their new album Island on March 29th and this is the first single to come from it since then. Fronted by songwriter Bjarke Bendtsen, the five-piece “explore themes of voluntary isolation, lost love and self-acceptance over ten tracks.”

The album was recorded in the attic of an old farm as they set out to “escape the rat race” and the album title refers to the metaphorical abandonment of the digital noise of the physical world.

All that sounds a little hippy-ish, and they look it.

All the album tracks including this one were recorded without a click track so the songs could flow freely.

The song is in four phases. Opening somewhat in the manner  of a Mike Oldfield composition it then drifts into repetitive ambience, livens up halfway through with what I think is a sitar coming to the fore in the midst of a strong, repeating riff, then peaks a couple of times before fading out. Quite a complex piece, and not dissimilar from ‘The Master’, which was reviewed in NMS #11.

Rainbrother have toured the UK in the past, have appeared at Bestival and had two London shows early in April but that seems to be all for now.

7/10

https://soundcloud.com/rainbrother/honeybird

(Norway/UK) Sasha Siem – Eve Eyed

I make no apologies for bringing back Sasha Siem again, and this time without the awful cheap hotel sex video which accompanied her last single, ‘Holey, Wholly, Holy’. Whoever else is in NMS she always brings a touch of class even if her videos don’t always reciprocate.

This time it’s a ’live’ performance, in a nice dress. Or is it a dressing gown?

The track invites women around the world to “explore and examine the rigid gender boundaries that restrict and suppress them” and to “break outside of these damaging ideologies and forge a new world where femininity is heralded, respected, and revered.”

Strangely, I’d never even thought of Sasha Siem as a feminist, perhaps the quality of the music had diverted me from the lyrics.

Siem felt inspired to write ‘Eve Eyed’ after an exploration into the perception of women throughout history. She discovered that whilst women from Ancient Societies were worshipped and honoured, women from the Judeo Christian tradition were blamed for the fall of mankind, grâce à the biblical Eve I suppose; a belief that seeps, however unconsciously, into the minds of women and girls. ‘Eve Eyed’ invites women to shed this ‘hidden’ blame and unlock the potential for light that they have inside themselves. It urges them to reclaim femininity in all its various iterations and makes it clear that they will create a kinder and more worthwhile world by doing so.

Well I can go along with the first part of that, and it is a theme that figured in ‘Lilith in the Wardrobe’ a song by a favourite Swedish performer, Åsa Larsson.  I remain to be convinced about the second part.

But Sasha gives it a good go, with her usual magnetic, repeating vocals and skilful use of instruments such as the cello. It almost verges on psych in the instrumental sections, a genre she has dabbled with in the past.

‘Eve Eyed’ is the second release from Siem’s album Holy which is set for release in June. It’s an album that aims, she says, ”to transcend any religious, social, or personal limitations and simply spread a message of love and understanding.” Peace and love, man.

8/10

(Denmark) Ida Wenøe – Circus Season

Making a quick return is Ida Wenøe, with a new single, ‘Circus Season’ to coincide with the release of her second album The Things We Don’t Know Yet.

The songs on the new album explore many of Ida’s personal experiences as a female musician travelling the world alone, and ‘Circus Season’ reflects a dark encounter on the last night of a U.S. tour.

She says, “I met the devil at the circus. He was wearing the mask of a magician, but his horns were showing, and still ‘I kissed the devil on the last night of the Circus Season’. It was the night before I was leaving the USA. Once back in my native Scandinavia, I wrote ‘Circus Season’, still feeling under some kind of spell. The song got its haunting echo choir right away, like swirling sirens luring me back to America.”

To be honest I’m not sure what that is all about, whether she’s recounting a true story of an encounter at a party or whatever, or whether this is some sort of metaphorical allusion, or allegory.

What I do know is that she puts Satan behind her with her heavenly voice.

I’m hard pressed to think of a British artist writing and performing in this (Nordic) folk-noir with a flavour of Americana style, though there must be one I suppose. Possibly Polly Scattergood, though she’s more electronic.  It’s quite mesmeric.

8/10

https://soundcloud.com/integrityrecords/ida-wenoe-circus-season-1

Ida Wenøe has just finished a short UK tour opening for other artists and I believe she we will be back later in the year with a headline tour of her own.

(Sweden) Dominique Tey – Feelingless

‘Feelingless’ is the latest single from Dominique Tey’s debut EP, ‘Heartstream’ which has been available since April 14th via Norwegian label Toothfairy.

Since finding prominence in her initial outfit MASSAI, Tey has been proving herself as a solo performer, attracting comparisons with Beach House and Cocteau Twins amongst others.

The five-track EP includes all of her previous singles, as well as the new tracks ‘Feelingless’ and ‘Ocean Deep’.

On ‘Feelingless’ she has attempted to introduce a more electronic pulse, with an almost 80’s synth wave inspired influence.

Dominique featured in NMS#8 and I said at the time that while claims were being made that sonically she was in the same league as Lana del Ray and Sigrid I couldn’t go along with that as her voice, while on the sultry side, isn’t that distinctive.

Much the same applies here. It’s a good song; well produced and performed but when compared to those two giants of the business, which is premature, it seems a little bland and predictable, still. ‘Let It Out’, the track reviewed in NMS#8, was considerably more listenable. Undoubtedly she will up her game with future releases.

7/10

(Norway) Insomniac Bears – A nod in the darkness

Insomniac Bears is a grouping of established Norwegian musicians which includes Team Me front man Marius Drogsås Hagen (See New Singles, above).

This is the second single of theirs to pitch up here after ‘Passing Trains’ (NMS #12).

Noted for their lyrical vulnerability this song was prompted by the loss of a family member and Marius Drogsås Hagen is “100%” sure of its sincerity although he admits that listening to it is not always easy.

I’m reminded of a track on the new Highasakite album which came out a couple of months ago, and in which a similar loss formed the basis of a track and of my remark then that you’d be surprised to learn that; the song didn’t match the circumstances.

I’m not saying that is quite the case here, but it is a surprisingly upbeat psych-pop number, featuring vintage synthesisers and the only tangible reference to its roots is in the line which forms the title. In fact, in a protracted session towards the end which involves getting “out of the night…into the light” it comes across as music more befitting a séance.

An interesting song, produced again by Lars Horntveth (Susanne Sundfør,  A-Ha et al).

7/10

EPs

(Iceland/UK) Gud Jon – Holmgang (sample track Line Break)

Gud Jon, a product of what is described as “the leftfield musical project” of Icelandic native Gudjon Bodvarsson, Henry Counsell and Richard Jahn, turned up in NMS #9 with their debut single ‘You Remind Me’, a Christmas song featuring Gudjon’s distinctive vocals, a multi-layered ‘choir’ and a brass section. It was certainly different.

This month they release their debut EP ‘Holmgang’ via Audio Network and From Concentrate.

As I mentioned previously Gudjon had a weird musical upbringing, influenced by the likes of German metal bashers Rammstein, rapper Snoop Dogg and serial Queen, Freddie Mercury. I find it hard to imagine a broader array than that. He’s been around a bit too, living in his native Iceland, the U.S. and Russia before settling in the UK aged 12 and meeting his two British band mates. Even now he still sings in two choirs, one of them an Icelandic one (and take it from me, they are good).

And weirdness pervades this track as well. The three minute 41 second song is like a symphony in four parts. In the first one it could be Antony and the Johnsons and he does actually sound like Antony Hegarty or Anohni or whatever he calls himself these days. Then it shifts into a sort of avant-garde experimental rock session to an African beat, followed by something out of the Middle East, before it ends with a piece of EDM that might be playing a pre-summer session in an Ibizan club right now.

7/10 (on the basis of this track).

Live

(Norway) Pom Poko – The Castle, Manchester, 9th April 2019

One of Norway’s fastest-rising bands and definitely the most dramatic on a stage came to Manchester as part of a short UK tour in support of their debut album, ‘Birthday’. With Pom Poko the old adage ‘expect the unexpected’ is perfectly appropriate. Read the review here.

“…possibly the most dynamic, intense 60 minutes I’ve experienced in a music venue.” “It’s exhausting just watching them.”

https://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2019/04/10/pom-poko-the-castle-hotel-manchester-09-04-2019/?fbclid=IwAR2xjEbsUlExv9VOX_Yq1HczcVyW1Uhsg8VCOktOZ1wvAtYhJ9XHAID1nCM

Albums

(Faroe Islands) Eivør– Live in Tórshavn (sample track Bridges)

We featured another Faroese artist once before and this one appeared as a support vocalist for MALMØ in NMS #8, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to describe the award winning Eivør (Pálsdóttir) as the Björk of the Faroes, even though she now resides in Copenhagen. She even sounds like the Icelandic pixie at times.

I didn‘t realise that they had patronymic names in the Faroes as well as in Iceland (she’s the ‘daughter of Pál’ if you don’t know what I mean).

With a massive catalogue of music across multiple genres behind her since she started recording at 16, sung in both Faroese and English, she has just released her new album Live in Tórshavn, a compilation of no less than 16 tracks performed in the capital ‘city’ if you can call it that, where I reckon she must be revered in a country that has the population of a small British town.

It is also the first time any of her work has been streamed, which should open up a whole new audience for her. Well, without it she wouldn’t be in Nordic Music Scene.

This new live album sees music from across her career performed with her live band, a collection of doomy electronic takes on Nordic folk music.

Long-time friends and collaborators Mikael Blak (bass, synths), Høgni Lisberg (drums, vocals) and Hallur Johnsson (FOH engineer) are an essential part of the live show Eivør has been building since the release of her latest album Slør (2015) and Live in Tórshavn is a natural continuity of the studio albums, giving them a second life and taking the songs further into the territories of Alternative, Rock, and Folktronica. To quote Eivør, “The live show is my thing, and the songs truly come alive to me when I can reflect them back to an audience.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to listen to all 16 tracks but this one, ‘Bridges’, did stand out immediately. Her voice reaches notes I didn’t know existed and has something of a Norwegian quality about it overall in that her style is similar to a number of Norwegians I can think of. And she’s a multi-instrumentalist with what is described as a “fearsome” band behind her.

8/10 (On the basis of this track).

‘Live In Tórshavn’ is out now on physical platforms through By Norse Music.

She does tour over here but has nothing so far for 2019 apart from an appearance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on May 18th. I read that she did play Night & Day in Manchester, a good venue but not entirely suitable to her style I would suggest. Somewhere like the Royal Northern College of Music and its equivalent in other cities would be perfect.

News

Gloomiest songs from the happiest country in the world – Finland!

Apparently, according to Gallup surveys in 2016 – 2018, Finland is the happiest country in the world. To be honest I find that hard to believe as the suicide rate there is quite high – not the highest in Europe by any means, but high enough.

But in any case you wouldn’t believe it based on this playlist.

Finland knows how to channel its gloomy side into music. Whether it’s doom metal (at which they specialise), folk, contemporary music or even the most legendary domestic pop-rock group – this playlist truly showcases Finns’ love for melancholy and sadness.

The cheery collection includes such uplifting numbers as ‘No Death’, ‘In Memoriam’, ‘When Love and Death embrace’, ‘Funeral’, and the jaunty ‘Excuse me while I kill myself’.

The original article and Spotify link is here. Enjoy.

https://musicfinland.com/en/news/playlist-the-gloomiest-songs-from-the-happiest-country-in-the-world#

Breaking – Pussy Riot members win Swedish asylum appeal

The two Pussy Riot members Lusine Djanyan and Aleksej Knedljakovsky have been granted asylum in Sweden. The political punk artists were previously denied, but after having appealed, they have been given the right to live permanently in Sweden by the Migration Court. The decision won legal force on Tuesday 30th April, which means that the Russian couple will now receive protection in Sweden.

Regrettably, at the time of writing no acknowledgement had been made by the pair of the protest record made by 45 Swedish indie artists in their favour earlier this year.

(See NMS #13 for previous developments in their case).

 

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