Nordic Music Scene #3 – news and reviews from across Scandinavia and the Nordic countries

Nordic Music Scene #3 – news and reviews from across Scandinavia and the Nordic countries

Welcome to the third, and bumper 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: ABBA; Highasakite; Oscar Soul Experience; Kristal and Jonny Boy; Flora Cash; The Vanjas; Parasite Child ft. Skepp; Frøkedal; Siv Jakobsen; SoLBLoMMa; Jenny Hval; Soffía Björg; Gefle Gas Festival (Pussy Riot!/Sting’s Songlines Project); Lamour Records/Slim Vic/LEHNBERG; Amanda Tenfjord; Ice Age; ViVii; Erja Lyytinen; Ängie; Aurora; Pole Siblings; CILVR; Kristofer Greczula; Gazpacho; Gents; Human.

Sections: EPs/Singles/Festivals/News

EPs

Jenny Hval – The Long Sleep (sample track Spells)

Jenny Hval returns with a new EP, ‘The Long Sleep,’ set for release May 25th via Sacred Bones. The first track from it is ‘Spells.’ ‘The Long Sleep’ precedes her debut novel, ‘Paradise Rot,’ published on October 2nd and follows her previous album, 2016’s ‘Blood Bitch’ and the collaborative EPLost Girls’ with friend and multi-instrumentalist Håvard Volden which took its name from a 2006 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie and which was released in February of this year.

I saw Jenny Hval in Manchester 18 months ago performing songs from ‘Blood Bitch’ and nothing can prepare you for her live show. She doesn’t sound Norwegian and reminded me of Sia and how the Adelaider used to perform before she started writing for big names like Beyoncé.

She is a multimedia avant garde story teller par excellence, one of her songs, ‘Conceptual Romance’ was performed in a creepy clown mime manner complete with simulated sex while her assistant Orfee drew a squiggly picture which Jenny then donated to the venue and left hanging on the back wall. Then they appeared to have an aerobics workout after which they bathed each other in a rubber pool in simulated blood. Welcome to the weird and whacky world of Jenny Hval.

Photo: Jenny Berger Myhre

There is always deep meaning within anything that Hval writes though and I’m sure there is in ‘The Long Sleep,’ and this particular track, though I haven’t figured it out yet. ‘Spells’ belies her “experimental folk artist” tag with the almost free-form jazz opening (and brief outro).’ Jazz is so big in Norway. It turns up everywhere and featuring on the EP are such luminaries as Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet.

But thereafter the track changes nature completely and could be a collaboration with Julia Holter. What a partnership that would be!

I could repeat the somewhat pretentious PR notes (sample: “embraces an instinctive, even subconscious, approach to creating meaning”, “lets the melodies and structures reveal the other elements of the songs”, “recycles the same compositional motives, but manipulates them into very different shapes”), but really all you have to do is to listen to the song a couple of times. It will soon hook you in.

Pole Siblings – Sköljer bort dig (Sample track How Low)

The Finnish duo Pole Siblings, which is the project of Sofia and Johan Stolpe, released its new single ‘How Low’, the second one from their second EP ‘Sköljer bort dig’ (Swedish for “wash you away”), the follow-up to last year’s debut EP ‘It Might Grow. The EP, released on April 6th, was recorded and produced by Anders Lagerfors in Gothenburg. Four tracks about dealing with anger and letting go, sorrow and moving on, it’s in many ways four tracks about family, death and life itself, and how to deal with it all.

The lead single Carve was released earlier this spring, a track born out of anger and frustation at not being able to express yourself, about dealing with grief that turns into feelings of vengeance, and now they’re back with ‘How Low’, which in turn is about the struggle to leave someone you love behind, and how you can lose yourself by focusing all of you on someone else.

Photo: Fredrik Diffner

Ethereal is an overworked word in the music business but it is a highly appropriate adjective here, right from the opening passages with that haunting harmonium to its powerful conclusion, the strained vocal contrasting with the atmospheric electronica. I refer often to Fiona Apple, who is one of my personal benchmarks for female singers, but I can’t help but do it again here. I defy anyone to convince me that in the first 30 seconds of the vocal it isn’t Ms Apple herself singing.

Their work is released on the Swedish indie label Strangers Candy.

Singles

Highasakite – Out of Order

As predicted, Highasakite’s five has reduced to a core of two as the original and now reinstated duo of Ingrid Helene Håvik and Trond Bersu gears up with this single towards what they describe on Facebook as “the first of many new releases this year”, which presumably means their third international album as well.

With the departure of the other three members percussionist Bersu, a man who seems capable of replicating a small orchestra with his synth pads, has stepped into the role of producer here. Meanwhile the main songwriter, Håvik, has concocted what seems quite close to the sound and atmosphere they fabricated on their first international album, ‘Silent Treatment’ in 2014, complete with her propensity to “being” something else as she role-plays her songs about her “baby”. Here its “inoperable”, a “runaway child” who’s “out of order”. Previously she’s been “a hand grenade”, “a bomb” and “my own disease”.

And the heavily accented way she delivers the English lyrics is oddly endearing, “I’m out a fow-dah”.

Ingrid’s lyrics are consistently dark, even if she’s deliberately shied away on this song from the global angst of their last album ‘Camp Echo’ (referencing an internment facility at Guantanamo Bay). “I’ll commit murder to keep him warm” she insists. So it may surprise you to learn that the song was loosely inspired by the passing of Bersu’s grandmother.

Håvik says she wanted to get back to the “purpose” she felt when writing the seminal ‘Lover, where do you live’ for ‘Silent Treatment’, a song that “burnt within me”. I believe she’s made a pretty good job of it and her voice is more striking than ever. Many of the legions of Highasakite fans in Norway and beyond were dismayed that the band seemed to be following an overtly pop-oriented path with their last single, the Stargate-produced ‘5 Million Miles’ and will be delighted that this arresting effort with its trademark big synth/percussive ending has taken them at least back in the direction of their roots.

It remains to be seen just how the new set-up will adapt to live performances. In my book they were one of the most atmospheric live bands on the circuit as a five-piece and a show without synth wizard Øystein Skar, the athletic flugabone-wielding Kristoffer Lo and the adorable Marte Eberson is hard to imagine. And in any case it’s equally difficult to see how they can perform this live as a duo, given that Håvik plays few instruments herself. Perhaps they will feature guest touring musicians, or even (fingers crossed but unlikely) the other three previous band members. There’s nothing here though that suggests they can’t put on a top-notch show with just the two of them, if that’s what they prefer.

Is it just me or has Ingrid been influenced by her recent duet with Morten Harket on ‘The Sun always shines on TV’? The more I listen to this track the more I hear shades of A-ha.

Oscar Soul Experience – Remedy

Stockholm-based Oscar Ogren and his “Soul Experience” are described as “a modern soul band…whose vision is to invite the audience into the soul of a live concert.” They mix Pop, Soul and R&B into their own individual sound. The band only started up in 2017. Since then, they have played shows around Europe and China and are working towards their debut album. In the interim, they have recently spent studio time recording their first EP.

In order to do, OSE entered into collaboration with the Swedish Soul King, Eric Gadd and producer Andreas Dahlbäck who have jointly been producing the EP together with OSE’s drummer, Noa Svensson. There’s a distinct element of fun in all of their recorded work to date. They took a different line on promotion, eschewing the usual “uploading music to streaming websites and hoping for the best” approach in favour of targeted shows locally and abroad to build a “live” fan base first.

Oscar himself has been compared vocally to Justin Timberlake.

This is the first single, ‘Remedy’, released on 6th April.

Kristal and Jonny Boy – In the Morning

Swedish dream pop outfit Kristal and Jonny Boy (Jonny Eriksson and Kristina Hanses) are better known in Italy where they have a large following but they will gain greater traction in Sweden and Scandinavia generally having just signed a PR/label deal there.  They’ve just released their first single ‘In the Morning’ from their upcoming album ‘It’s My Heart’ (release date May 11th) – and it immediately gained national radio rotation the day after it was released and was picked up by the biggest Swedish daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter in addition to broad exposure across Italy. The plan is to release one or two more singles before the album – and the next one up (‘It’s My Heart’ – the title track) is reported to be very much in the mould of The xx.

According to singer and songwriter Kristina Hanses, ‘In the Morning’ is probably the saddest song she ever wrote, in a dark period in her life when she found it difficult to love anyone else. “‘In The Morning’ is about the desire to feel free. To wake up every morning and know that you have to fight for that freedom … and that you want to feel free, otherwise it will not work. That freedom is the most important thing in life.” 

Despite the gravitas of the song, on most of their videos to date they’ve managed to make themselves look like characters out of the much-missed TV sci-fi drama Farscape.

The upcomingIt’s My Heart’ was recorded and produced by Federico Dragogna in the Green Fog Studio in Genoa. It consists of “a mixture of songs about love and depression” as Hanses says, adding “it’s hard to get away from it, when you write from the heart.”

The band was formed by Kristina Hanses and Jonny Eriksson in 2010, when Hanses returned to Sweden after her debut as a solo artist with an album published by the Munich-based company Pink Orange Records. Early on, the band managed to create interest on the continent and signed a contract with La Tempesta DISCHI in Italy, which in 2013 released the band’s debut EP. Since then, Kristal and Jonny Boy has made numerous tours of Italy, toured throughout Europe making more than 300 appearances at gigs in clubs and festivals, and played South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

Flora Cash – 18 Dollars

Soundcloud is responsible for the coming together of the US/Scandinavia duo Flora Cash (Shpresa Lleshaj from Stockholm and Cole Randall from Minneapolis), both musically and romantically. They “met” on there in 2012, exchanged songs and notes and eventually got married, possibly in Soundcloud’s offices for all we know.

They’ve released three EPs, a mini-album and a full one. ‘18 Dollars’ is their first single of 2018 and it’s about guess what? – a failed relationship. So many songs are, but there is some irony in the choice of subject this time.

Photo by Marton Gosztonyi

With Shpresa’s Stockholm connections, playlisting on Spotify’s New Music Friday in 10 countries is perhaps to be expected but they also picked a viral following for their previous single ‘You’re Somebody Else,’ with a like ratio of 1.78% on a YouTube fan video , which seems pretty high and it was their breakthrough moment. (‘Gangnam Style’s’ ratio is 0.45% and ‘Despacito’s’ is 0.53% if you’re a statto).

Theirs is an interesting sound, acoustic R&B music with a big production and she has quite a vocal likeness to Banks. There is a wonderful moment in this song when Shpresa seems to sing “I wanna like IKEA”. But of course you do dear, you’re Swedish.

https://soundcloud.com/iconscreatingevilart/flora-cash-18-dollars

The single was released on 30th March via the Swedish label Icons Creating Evil Art.

The Vanjas – My Girls 

This isn’t a new track – it was released at the beginning of the year, but as Nordic Music Scene didn’t exist then, and as The Vanjas are just about to start a European and Swedish tour, it seems appropriate to feature it now.

‘My Girls’ is their first single on Rehm Music, following a lengthy spell touring in support of Patti Smith (which you won’t believe when you hear this track) and The Sonics.

Stockholm-based, their own biography describes them as “a rock ‘n’ roll quartet with a love for girl group sounds, doo-wop, 50’s and 60’s R&B and punk– quite a mix” – and adds “Think Ramones meets Tina Turner meets Shangri-Las meets Lavern Baker.” Independent critics class them with artists/genres as diverse as Larry Williams 50s rock, Blondie’s 1970s and The Who! Their music and style have also been noted to have a cinematic quality often referring to teenage delinquency, romance and “good times rolling.”

To me, judging solely from this track, they are The Shirelles, reincarnated. 

Parasite Child (ft. Skepp) – Star

‘Star’ is from Parasite Child’s (Andrea Stellan) second full-length album ‘PC’, which was released on 18th April.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Stockholm, in the past Andreas has played with many bands, including Dungen, and The Amazing, and currently plays in Swedish pop bands Avantgardet, Sylvester Schlegel and Bergen. According to folklore his love for analogue synths and drum machines finally took over and his Stratocaster was left hanging on a wall gathering dust, now only to be played on rare occasions.

On five of the 10 album tracks he teams up with other artists, and on four of those occasions one of them is someone who will be familiar to anyone in the UK who has followed Swedish music over the last 10 years ago, namely Elin Skeppstedt, or Elin Lindfors as she was known before she got married. She is a veteran of the bands Deer Tracks and Twiggy Frostbite and has more recently been working on a solo project, Skepp. Elin’s voice is unique and instantly recognisable and as usual adds value and quality to the track.

Frøkedal I Don’t Care 

Another artist with an imminent album release is Norway’s Anne Lise Frøkedal, whose second album, ‘How we made it’ is scheduled for 31st August. It follows her Norwegian Grammy-nominated debut LP of 2016, ‘Hold on Dreamer’. 

Dubbed by the Norwegian Ambassador to the UK as “the coolest woman in Norway” Frøkedal’s sound is usually quite laid-back anti-folk though often enlivened by her trademark gold-coloured Fender Telecaster and a backing band (Familien) that employs a range of traditional instruments.  

Photo by fotograf julia naglestad

On ‘I Don’t Care’ though the pace hots up a bit, perhaps a nod to her history with other Norwegian bands Harrys gym and I was a King, with unusual energy and, as she saysUnfiltered, impulsive thoughts and actions fuelled by everything from fear, love and deep passion – to red hot anger”. She’s particularly good at mixing strident guitar with strings as she does here.

The song concerns the idea of firmly closing the door to the past, of moving forward in a positive manner, in spite of the naysayers. If Millwall FC fans are looking for a theme song, they’ve found it.

Siv Jakobsen – Bullet 

A quick return for Siv Jakobsen, who was featured in the April edition (#2) as she has been nominated for Best International Record at this year’s Unsigned Music Award. Following her cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ she released ‘Bullet’ as the second track from her live album – ‘Live in Oslo’ which was released on 27th April. Recorded in front of a live audience at Rockefeller in Oslo, Siv’s home city, the album brings together a selection of tracks from her debut album (‘The Nordic Mellow’, 2017) and her debut EP (‘The Lingering’, 2015) as well as a handful of covers including ‘Jolene’. 

The studio version of ‘Bullet’ featured on Siv’s debut LP and this new live version delivers a dramatic performance of what has become a fan-favourite track with its exquisite string section.

With input from Einar Stray of the Einar Stray Orchestra, each song performed on the night was arranged and re-imagined to bring to life the intensity that is synonymous with Siv Jakobsen’s recorded music.

Siv Jakobsen will return to the St Pancras Old Church for one night only on Monday 4th June, treating London audiences to a special show where she’ll be joined onstage by a string quartet.

https://soundcloud.com/sivjakobsen/bullet-2

SoLBLoMMa – Charles de Gaulle 

Featured in the first Nordic Music Scene (March) Stockholm-based SoLBLoMMa, a unique performer with a unique vocal (although recently I detected a similarity with her compatriot Robyn) and a nice line in alternative sad ballads, returns with ‘Charles de Gaulle’. 

In it she uses the metaphor of the loneliness of the huge airport terminal for the “every man is an island” solitude of personal life in the social media-dominated 21st Century, asking anyone who passes by to “come and sit here next to me”…I’ve been here for a century” in a similar way indeed to what Tim Booth did on ‘Sit Down’. Ok, so it does not have the hymn-like qualities of that classic song but this idiosyncratic polymath has a long experience of many musical genres, a cult-like following and assuredly something to say.

Once famously described by a critic as “Think Depeche Mode booted out the back of a transit on a cold, dark winter’s night, think Lykke Li taken by the dark side, think Kylie with Winehouse’s problems, think Emilíana Torrini on 45, Björk dating Goldie … oh, hang on… well, then we begin to see something remotely resembling SoLBLoMMa she’s well worth a listen although her inherent quirkiness is not quite so apparent on this track.

Amanda Tenfjord – First Impression

Amanda Tenfjord released her first single on April 20th via Propeller Recordings.

She’s half Greek and originally from a small village in Norway called Tennfjord, and the slightly differently spelt Tenfjord is also her real surname, but is now based in Trondheim – co-writing with the likes of Askjell Solstrand (Sigrid), Odd Martin (Aurora), and James Earp (Lewis Capaldi).

Her debut single, ‘First Impression’ is about first impressions in general, and the impact they have on us – the initial moment where you make a picture of a person, or his/her life, without even consciously thinking about it, and about how it can be misleading. “Like when you meet someone who seems charming and fascinating and interesting, but then there’s just nothing beneath the surface”. “I’ve been digging deep to find some more, but you’re as shallow as the shore”. 

First Impression will be the first single in a run of four releases over the next few months, with her first EP due in October this year.

She has a little of the sound of the Netherlands’ Naaz about her; no bad thing.

Ice Age – The Day the Music Dies  

Ahead of the release of their new album ‘Beyondless’ and UK and European tour dates in May and later in September, Copenhagen’s punk band Iceage offered a new video for final pre-release single, ‘The Day The Music Dies’.

Shot in Detroit at the historic bathhouse, The Schvitz, with saxophonist Lars Greve joining the band in the sauna, and at the city’s legendary Masonic Temple, and the MUG warehouse space, ‘The Day The Music Dies’ video was directed by the band and Graeme Flegenheimer. Previous releases have included Catch It’, (February 2018) ‘Take It All’, and ‘Pain Killer’ which featured American singer-dancer-actress-model Sky Ferriera, who has been sidelined for a while by illness.

The band have recently expanded into a six-piece live, with the addition of a violinist and saxophonist, in channelling “the immersive and cinematic sound of the new album.”

‘Beyondless’ is out May 4th via Matador Records.

Singer and lyricist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt looks and sounds like he could be a Gallagher half-brother, the one fathered by some errant Viking. And he has the attitude to go with it.

Erja Lyytinen – Without You 

Finnish slide guitarist and blues-rock singer-songwriter Erja Lyytinen released a new single ‘Without You’, taken from her forthcoming album. The new single was written and composed by Erja and recorded with her brand new band including Kasperi Kallio (keyboards), Tatu Back (bass) and Iiro Laitinen (drums).

She started writing ‘Without You’ a few years ago, but never found the right moment to finish it. That moment occurred at the beginning of 2018 though it has changed over the years. She says, “The arrangement was completely different at first with some R&B elements but it turned out to be something that I´m keen doing on stage nowadays – it’s loud, rocky and frank!”

“The song is about a person who is searching for the feeling she had with someone who´s no longer available. It is dealing with the phenomenon of how the human mind obsesses about something or someone that is out of a person’s reach.”

Photo by Pasi Rytkönen

The music video below was shot in a warehouse in the freezing cold, with no heating, so they didn’t hang about. Erja Lyytinen, who won “Best Guitarist” at the European Blues Awards 2017, has already been confirmed for a headlining UK tour in November 2018 to support the release of her forthcoming album, with dates in London, Bridgwater (Somerset), Wolverhampton, Darlington and Bude (Cornwall).

A touch of Elkie Brooks here?

ViVii – Siv (You & I)

Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii released their debut single ‘Siv (You & I)’. It is the first single to be taken from their debut EP ‘Savant’ which will be released in late May.  ‘Siv (You & I)’ Is a bittersweet ode to the pains and joys that “real life” brings – taking the good with the bad and reminding you that you’re still alive – and it’s dedicated to a special figure in the lives of Emil and Caroline Jonsson (who are two thirds of ViVii, along with Anders Eckeborn).

They explain, “We had this babysitter called Siv who looked after our kids for quite some while, but she passed away two years ago. She had an old zither she played in the church, and when she passed she left it to us. This is the first song we wrote on that zither – that’s why it’s called ‘Siv (You & I)’. It’s a hymn for her.” 

The core of the band, Emil and Caroline, met at summer camp as children and formed a strong, life-long bond, but only started to write and record music after having children, the reverse of the normal situation and they usually write about their relationship and life together. Later they were joined by Anders Eckeborn, who shuns the limelight but is responsible for generating most of the odd sounds that appear on their songs, as well as acting as producer.

The song features the aforementioned zither, of course. The single and EP are released through Stockholm label Dumont Dumont.

Ängie – Here for my Habits

Swedish provocateur Ängie has released her new single ‘Here for my Habits’, from her debut album ‘Suicidal Since 1995’, which was released on April 6ththrough Universal.

Ängie burst onto the scene in 2016 and shook the world with her debut and conservatively titled single ‘Smoke Weed Eat Pussy’, followed by ‘Housewife Spliffin’ and ‘Spun’. The Sun declared her to be “our new favourite pop diva”, while for Pink News she’s “Sweden’s answer to Miley Cyrus.

There are no half-measures with Ängie and little is left to the imagination. ‘Here For My Habits’ is a song about her earlier experiences with dealers, many of whom have tried to hit on her, or even fallen for her. She says,It’s a bit sad that you can’t be a girl and do anything without getting a sexual invitation.”

Shades of Fiona Apple’s infamous track and video ‘Criminal’, 20 years on.

Her songs have clocked up millions of views on YouTube and Ängie has had unofficial fan clubs established across the world in locations as far flung as Brazil and Russia.

Each track on the album is accompanied by a limited-edition item of clothing especially designed by Ängie. I wonder what they might be. The album release was also marked by a limited edition ‘Suicidal Since 1995’ hoodie.

Aurora – Queendom

In the last Nordic Music Scene we said Aurora had released only one single since her debut album, namely ‘I Went Too Far, in advance of her second album which is expected in autumn 2018. Sod’s Law says another one would pop up, immediately after publication, and yes, it did.

There is something of an alternative fantasy world in many of Aurora’s songs and ‘Queendom’ isn’t too different as she sets herself up as a champion of all of the oppressed:

“The underdogs are my lions/The silent ones are my choir/The women will be my soldiers/With the weight of life on their shoulders”

Soldiers and warriors are never far from her thoughts (warriors being a term of endearment she uses for her fans, along with weirdos), and we know she worries incessantly about the world and its problems, but is she setting herself up as Jesus here? Surely not.

 “Drink until you’ve had enough/I’ll drink from your hands/ I will be your warrior/I will be your lamb”

Intentional or not, that’s replete with biblical references.

She even mashes up the Lord’s Prayer later:

“Till queendom come/ My queendom come/Our queendom come”

This single has more of a dance beat than most of her previous work and there are strong suggestions that will feature throughout the album as well.

If you want to see how Aurora’s “will be done”, she headlines the Bushstock Festival in West London on 23rd June, returning to the UK in October (presumably the album will by then be released) to play Manchester Academy on 10th October and the O2 Forum (Kentish Town) in London on 11th October.

That seems a fairly meagre schedule for a justifiably big name now and with devoted fans across the UK and it is possible other dates could be added.

CILVR – Hideaway

CILVR is a Stockholm-based independent artist, songwriter and producer who has just released her debut single ‘Hideaway’, producing and writing everything together with her music/production-partner and it’s an independent release. The song debuted on New Music Friday.

CILVR (Cecilia Nyquist) was raised in a home full of classical music and spent her childhood backstage in concert halls around the world. Here she combines those organic influences with electronic elements and creates her own indie-pop sound.

There’s always a danger of classifying this sort of electronic indie pop as formulaic, but there is genuine originality in the writing and production here, those little keyboard runs for example and her experiences with classical musical show through in the arrangement. Sounding a little like Kate Bush does no harm either, I suppose. A song that will grow on you.

Kristofer Greczula – Intoxicated Love  

Swedish Pop-Power voice Kristofer Greczula has followed up a three million-streamed single, ‘You’re Not Alone, with ‘Intoxicated Love ‘, which was released on April 13th.

Greczula has a string of showcase/music industry festival appearances behind him in the U.S. and Sweden.

At the age of 16 he signed with Lionheart – now Capitol / Universal with his rock band Damn Delicious. With which he performed over 500 shows. This led to live shows at major Swedish music festivals, including the Sweden Rock festival.

In 2017 he decided to start his solo career, entering the pop scene where his music interests lay as a child. His debut single ‘Taste’ was released on the 26th May and ‘You’re not alone’ on 8th September and is the official song for the organisation Aldrig Ensams, of which the objective is to break the silence and taboo surrounding mental health issues. Kristofer wrote ‘You’re not alone’ when he was 18 and going through a rough period, experiencing depression and anxiety.

As he says (YouTube video) ‘Intoxicated Love’ is about someone who he’d “parted ways with” who suddenly “walked back into my life”.

‘Intoxicated Love’ is released by Rehn Music Group.

https://soundcloud.com/rehn-music-group/kristofer-greczula-intoxicated-love/s-fWsc2

Gazpacho – Exit Suite  

A cold soup might be an odd choice of name for a band but the Oslo-based art-rock-prog outfit Gazpacho have been currying favour in their homeland with their atmospheric output. Exit Suite, presumably the outro, is from their second album Soyuz, which will be released on 18th May through KScope.

Gazpacho’s Thomas Andersen says, “Exit Suite is the cinematic sounding result of a night playing with matches in the studio. It is a song about the fear of dawn and the passing of the old day. ”

The short film accompanying the song was made by Dewi Allen from the University of South Wales, Cardiff.

Regarding Soyuz the concept was born from the idea of how beautiful moments pass and cannot be “saved for later”, so within Soyuz are interconnected tales of people and lives “frozen in time”. It took inspiration from a multitude of eras and subject matters, including the doomed Russian space capsule Soyuz and its iconic captain Komarov.

Gents – Moments (Double A-side) 

Gents is a Danish synth-pop duo who, in their own words exemplify “the Danish concept of ‘feinschmecker’ (or ‘bon vivant’ as the French have it – to mean ‘one who lives well’), i.e. the sound of sensual sorrow, nestled at the midway point between the vainglorious decadence of early 80s sopista-pop and the more introverted likes of Japan and Tears For Fears. Romantics, never ironists, and as if eternally heartbroken by the inherent sadness of life itself.” 

Inherent sadness, too right. To me there is the distinct sound of Manchester angst meeting the Pet Shop Boys.

Speaking of ‘Moments’, they say “ ‘Gents’ is a recreational space, where everyone is welcome to come and feel good, while we look for sense and meaning behind it all together. It’s a spa stay, where giving yourself a treat goes hand-in-hand with being naked and vulnerable around others. On ‘Moments’ we try, but can’t work out how, to be whole people or whole lovers – no matter how much we want to. That track is for people who dare to voice their feelings of doubt and inadequacy. We’ve come to say that ‘you’re good enough as you are, you beautiful mess!” 

Human – R_O_B_O_T 

Carrying on in a similar vein from Gents is Human, a Grammy Award-winning Swedish collective (and they stress “collective”) described as “a gloomy post-apocalyptic view of society wrapped in a joyful carefree sound of the summer” and “purposeful cheerfully depressing pop”. ‘R_O_B_O_T’ was released on 13th April, their third single.

Somehow managing to fuse Scandi pop with R&B, Human (Daniel Adams-Ray, Petter Tarland, and Carl Wikström) had recently been working with the late Avicii.

A full-length album from HUMAN is expected to drop in the autumn of 2018.

https://www.vevo.com/watch/human/robot-(audio)/SEUV71800049

(Click to watch, or copy/paste).

Festivals

Gefle Gas update

The Gefle Gas 100% indie music festival and conference which was mentioned in the previous edition and which will be held 01-02 June in Gasklockorna, the old gasworks of the town of Gävle to the north of Stockholm, has released further information on bands and other contributors.

Two members of Russia’s Pussy Riot, who escaped the clutches of the FSB last year and who now live in Sweden, will be appearing at the festival. The Russian feminist protest punk band-cum-art collective is famous for four of its members having performed a ‘Punk Prayer’ in a Moscow cathedral in 2012, much to the annoyance of President Putin and two of them were subsequently jailed. Alexey Knedlyakovsky and his partner Lusine Djanyan sought asylum in Sweden in advance of the Presidential election on 18th March. Knedlyakovsky was the only male member of the group, and along with Djanyan was involved in an infamous Pussy Riot stunt at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 during which they delivered an unannounced performance of a song titled ‘Putin Will Teach You To Love The Motherland.’ It elicited a violent reaction from ultra-nationalist Cossacks, Knedlyakovsky being battered over the head with his own guitar while other members were whipped and pepper-sprayed.

At Gefle Gas they will perform a play with volunteers from the audience on the opening(Friday) evening, 1st June and will later make a guest appearance with veteran post-punk band, The Pillisnorks.

The winner of the Joe Hill Memorial Award is Stefan Sundström, who has been active on the Swedish music scene since 1974 and one of whose early bands, Apache, later went on to become Weeping Willows and associated with Swedish maestro Magnus Carlson (see the second edition of the Nordic Music Scene). Another band was called Fuck Off but the less said about that, the better. Sundström has 18 albums to his credit and countless singles and EPs.

He will collect his award on the first evening of the event. One that is partly dedicated to the memory of Joe Hill.

“Joe Hill had the light in his eyes” – Bob Dylan

Sundström is an ecologist, to boot. The prize draws attention to people working in the music business in the spirit of Joe Hill and is based on his values. The artist’s work in the field of music life is in focus, but in the selection of the laureates, the artist’s community commitment and cultural policy action are of great importance.

Last year British musician Sting won the Polar Prize and donated the prize money of one million kronor (GB£85,000) to the Swedish integration project Songlines, which started in 2017 as a scheme to help young unaccompanied refugees arriving in the country. Through music, the hope is to make life easier for them while they make new contacts. Songlines offers them the opportunity to show their musical talents.

As part of Gefle Gas, Songlines participants from all over Sweden, originally from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt,  will get the chance to take the stage together with musicians and the now Stockholm-domiciled percussionist Michael Blair, who has worked with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, R.E.M and Lou Reed.

Another band to have been signed up is Delorian, which will release its latest single in May (to be covered in Nordic Music Review).

Delorian – Bury Me (ft. Frida Madeleine) 

It is understood that the now 14-year old Ingrid Fröderberg will also make an appearance, along with the Helges All-Stars. Last year I had the privilege of hearing Fröderberg, a member of Helges All-Stars, a local singing club for young people which began as a social project (and which discovered Zara Larsson). All of Helges All-Stars are very good but in their midst is what I described at the time as a superstar, the Eighth Wonder of the World, then just 12. The only song of hers I was able to catch (and only courtesy of the buzz that was going around the event – “you MUST see this girl”-) was her cover of Beyoncé’sListen’, which she killed. Better than the original. Seriously. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to seeing again someone who I just know is going to be huge.

Also appearing is Johanna Brun (see https://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2018/01/29/giittv-introducing-johanna-brun/), while festival regular, the art-pop singer/dancer Ida Long (see https://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2018/01/01/album-review-ida-long-rainbows-tears/) goes head-to-head with local electronica/drone wizard David LEHNBERG (also of the Deer Tracks, see the Parasite Child single review and Lamour album review, here). Other artists who have featured in GIITTV who will make an appearance are RÅNDA and Mike Granditsky.

https://indiesweden.se/; https://www.facebook.com/geflegas

Albums

Various – Musik tillägnad Bertil Enstöring vol. 1

With Brian Eno about to release a new album it’s worth remembering that Sweden has some drone meisters of its own. The specialist Swedish label Lamour has released a compilation cassette tape with “ambient & drone for lonely moments”, titled ‘Musik tillägnad Bertil Enstöring vol. 1’

Lamour is the brainchild of the DJ ’Slim Vic’ Victor Leidner, who formed it in 2008 as a club for new and upcoming electronica artists and DJs. Today Lamour is a non-profit organisation with a large network of engaged people in art and music. The Lamour records have the same focus as the club and publish various forms of electronic music on vinyl, CD and digital.

The featured track here is one from David Lehnberg, of the Deer Tracks and many other bands, who over the last year or so has been making a name for himself with his experimental electronica solo project, LEHNBERG, both as an energetic live artist and as someone who delivers EPs and remixes with a huge range. Whether he is making techno, ambient, modern classic or remixes, LEHNBERG’s signature musical language is always present. Recently he has also been working with Ida Long, a different type of (indie-pop) artist altogether.

LEHNBERG’s electronica is heavier, more industrial than that of Eno, more ‘Music for Spaceports’ than for ‘Airports’.

Since May 2015, David Lehnberg has released over six hours of music under his own moniker and in 2018 looks to add a few more hours to that constantly growing list of music.

LEHNBERG’s track is ‘Drone Till Bertil’, (dedicated to Bertil Enstöring as the album title suggests; an imaginary literary figure).

https://tapelamour.bandcamp.com/…/musik-till-gnad-bertil-en…

(Click to access or copy/paste)

Each track is an individual piece by a different artist, and Slim Vic himself contributes on Track 8 – ‘Lämna mig I fred’ (Leave me Alone).

News

ABBA reunion announced after 35 years

Please refer to the ‘News’ post from 27th April for a slightly different take on ABBA‘s reunion announcement.

NEWS: ABBA record new material but no physical tour envisaged

Icelander Soffía Björg wins Akademia Music Awards’ Song of the Month for ‘I Lie’ 

Soffía Björg released her eponymous first album last year. The part-time tour guide who takes tourists inside glaciers and sings to them has often been compared with Norah Jones. Early in April she was nominated for the Song of the Month Award sponsored by Akademia, the Los Angeles-based organisation that is “dedicated to identifying and developing top musical talent from all across the globe” and, more importantly, exposing it to radio stations, media channels, video channels, retailers and film and television licensing opportunities.

The nominated song was ‘I Lie’, the ultimate track from the album and one distinctly different from the rest with its retro, almost Beatles-like feel, and it won in the category Alternative Rock Song.

This video features the Soffía Björg Band: virtuoso guitarist Pétur Ben, bassist Ingibjörg Elsa Turchi, and unfussy drummer Kristofer Rodriguez Svonuson, all of whom feature in other Icelandic bands and who will be familiar to visitors to the annual Iceland Airwaves and Secret Solstice festivals.

So far the SBB has failed to visit the UK but they occasionally play foreign festivals and Soffía Björg herself will be touring Poland in early May, so it is possible yet that she/they might.

End.

Featured image of Jenny Hval by Jenny Berger Myhre

2 thoughts on “Nordic Music Scene #3 – news and reviews from across Scandinavia and the Nordic countries

  1. WOW! You really know your way around the Nordic music scene, David! THANKS A LOT for your brilliant reviews and reports!!

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