Archives for posts with tag: Sweden

Manuela Iwansson

Glasgow-based independent record label Night School Records is reliably unpredictable. One of its latest releases is a perfectly out-of-character 7″ single by Swedish musician Manuela Iwansson, the A-side of which is called “Strangers on a Train”:

When I say “out-of-character” it’s not really, because “out-of-character” is totally in-character for Night School Records. It’s not that the label is all over the place, and lacking any kind of thematic or genre focus. The opposite is true. It’s just its done in such an unpredictable way.  You don’t realise how connected the music the label releases is until you get past the sound and think more about what it represents and the people making it.

OK, that’s too much isolation-induced over-thinking for a Sunday. Why not just enjoy a dystopian post-punk, gothic synth-pop power-chord banger and dance like no-one is watching?

Iwansson‘s background was as vocalist in now-defunct Swedish punk group Terrible Feelings. Her current solo sound “harnesses the doomed romance of early 80s post-punk with a leather-bound flourish of late-70s hard-as-nails rock music.”

“Strangers on a Train” takes the guitar and bass tones and textures of The Cure’s first couple of albums as a starting point, then mixes in some Big Hair & leather trench-coat 80’s synth-pop plus power-chord stadium rock (in a Bonnie Tyler kind of way), and cooks up a ridiculously loveable dark anthem to loneliness and paranoia. And the other side “Blank Surface” does much the same, but differently. It all adds up to something a lot better than the music it pays homage to.

As Night School proclaims: “Rock n Roll is dead, good riddance; we’re creatures of the night.”


Death and VanillaIt rains almost as much in Malmö, Sweden as it does in Dunedin, NZ, so let’s brighten a rainy grey Psychedelic Sunday in Dunedin NZ with the eerie atmospheric psychedelia of Death & Vanilla and “A Flaw in the Iris”:

“A Flaw in the Iris” is from the album “Are You A Dreamer?” released mid 2019 on Fire Records. Death & Vanilla are Marleen Nilsson, Magnus Bodin and Anders Hansson, and this album seems a lot less wilfully old-fashioned sounding than earlier Death & Vanilla recordings.  Lines between past, present and future are blurred, their  reverb-heavy dreampop given some psychedelic soul and a cosmiche music heart of gently motorik hypnotic beats.


Star Horse

Replacing Psychedelic Sunday with Shoegaze Sunday today for Swedish dream-pop/ shoe-gaze band Star Horse and “Pickle Plum” from their “You Said Forever” album released in August 2019:

You might automatically assume that a dream-pop/ shoe-gaze band naming a song “Pickle Plum” would sound a bit like Cocteau Twins, and, if you did assume that, you would not be disappointed.

However as well as the apparent nod to later Cocteau Twins influences on this song, the album also does a very fine Swedish take on the more expansive guitar-effect sonic haze of Slowdive as well, particularly on the epic 8+ minute “Albatross” or “Serpentine”.

Star Horse are from Stockholm, Sweden and consist of Maja (guitar/vocals) Andreas (guitar/vocals), Samuel (drums) and Viktor (bass).  The historic shoe-gaze reference points aside, there is much that is very much their own contemporary sonic landscape on “You Said Forever” that makes the album well worth taking time with to make it familiar.

Molly NilssonHere’s another from the Night School Records catalogue. As with yesterday’s post of a track from the Sorrow LP re-issue “Whiskey Sour” here is a track from a double LP re-issue of a 2008 Molly Nilsson album called “These Things Take Time”

Nilsson is a Swedish musician based in Berlin. Her minimal “DIY ’til I die” synth pop has an extensive catalogue which can be explored on her website Dark Skies Association.

“Whisky Sour” is a slice-of-life wry observation about… well, waiting in a bar, and all the discomfort, thoughts, memories and reflections this involves. It carries a similar kind of dark fatalistic humour of The Magnetic Fields reflecting on the human condition – Nillson’s morose commentary unfolding like a short story over this hiss and chime of a simple melody from a budget keyboard.

The album is an expansive collection of DIY Casio-tone synth-pop. It was repressed on vinyl – a limited 500 copies – for Record Store Day 2018, and appears to be sold out now. However… there is always the unlimited edition digital download…

josefinohrnandtheliberationPsychedelic Sunday takes us to Sweden and the music of Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation

Sweden is well known for its production line of great bands covering all shades of music from pop to rock and beyond. In the ‘beyond’ category Sweden has blessed us with psych-proggers Dungen, the world+psch (con)fusion of Goat and the retro-psych soundtrack music of Death and Vanilla.

The music of Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation is more straightforward (sort of) heavy psych with a bit of motorik ‘Krautrock’ blended in (check out the epic 6 minute closing track “Imagine You”). The album “Mirage” covers a fair range of styles while remaining a satisfying mix of accessible melodicism and more experimental psych-rock.

“Where I’m Going” here is beautifully paisley-esque in its psych-pop goodness. The ending even mixes a bit of Syd era Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” with it’s Brian Jonestown Massacre-flavoured jangling psychedelia.

Josefin Öhrn’s vocals are a distinctive feature of the sound of the album. Her subdued, almost whispered vocal help draw the listener into this ‘head-music’. It’s a vocal style that reminds me of the haunting music of the fabulous Samara Lubelski.

Here’s another song from the album in video form – “Rushing Through My Mind”




Death and vanilla

I don’t know much about Death And Vanilla. But I do know I love everything I’ve heard from them. They fly beneath the radar and appear to want it that way. Their records (lovely vinyl with stylish design aesthetic) are released in small runs (< 500) and sold via their label's Bandcamp page or discerning stores like Norman Records (UK) and Aquarius Records (US). They sell out very quickly. Here's what I know, or at least believe to be the case: they are from Malmo, Sweden. They may or may not be a duo.

Their first EP has recently been re-issued. You can listen to it here:

Anyone familiar with Broadcast and even early Stereolab will find some familiarity here. There's a shared love of 1960s film soundtracks and incidental music, retro-futurism, instrumental psychedelia, analogue synths and other old instruments. Their whole catalogue is a hugely satisfying listen, so this song and this EP is only really a starting point for your discovery.

Death And Vanilla – Ghosts In The Machine from Death And Vanilla on Vimeo.