Tag Archives: Sweden

Johan Söderqvist – Kon Tiki OST (2012)

Johan Söderqvist - Kon Tiki OST (2012)

Some original soundtracks can work well independently of the moving images that they composed to accompany; others are more dependent on the film to fulfil their potential. Regretably, I feel that Söderqvist’s music here falls into the latter camp.

Söderqvist is a Swedish composer who has more than 50 film credits to his name, including the original of Let The Right One In, After The Wedding, and Things We Lost In The Fire. Here, his soundtrack is for the Best Foreign Language Oscar-nominated Kon Tiki, from Norwegian directors, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg.

The story of Kon Tiki is quite interesting; he film dramatises the saga of the true story of Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl, who, in 1947, set out to prove that Polynesia could have been populated from South America. So, by making a Peruvian-style raft, naming it Kon Tiki after the Inca sun god, he set out with a crew of five on a 101-day, ~7000 km journey from Peru to the Tuamotu archipelago, showing the journey to be ultimately viable. 

The titles of the tracks are fairly uninspired and seem purely functional, and to be honest, that’s what the music sounds like, fairly pedestrian incidental music, a few upbeat tracks, with a general feeling of hope, but nothing too exciting.

That said, it is unfair to criticise a soundtrack too harshly when I haven’t watched the film, but as I say, some soundtracks can live and thrive on their own, so it is worth listening; this is not one. I may readdress my opinion upon watching the film.

Spotify link: Johan Söderqvist – Kon Tiki (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

 

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Monoswezi – The Village (2013)

Monoswezi - The Village (2012)

What do you get when you cross musicians from Mozambique, Norway, Sweden and Zimbabwe?

Well, you get Monoswezi, of course!

In its head, Monoswezi is a Scandinavian Jazz band with saxophone, drums and bass, courtesy of the northern hemisphere contingent; but in its heart, Monoswezi is an Eastern Africa traditional folk/dance band.

Voice and mbira are courtesy of the outstanding Hope Masike, whose delivery is at times sweet and soulful, such as on Heya!, and at times, such on the fantastic Ndinewe, displaying her fantastic vocal range, which along with the bass drive this track to a great saxophone finish.

The mbira is a wooden box with different sized metal keys attached, which are plucked to produce notes. It is the national instrument of Zimbabwe and is used in traditional Shona music. On The Village, the mbira is used to create a rhythmic basis for the tracks, a short melody is repeated throughout the entire song laying the foundation for the rest.

While many tracks are uplifting and oftentimes playful, some are more sombre, like Kalahari, which is open and sparse like the titular desert, or the mournful Mapfunde. On Xtimela, Masike is joined by Mozambiquian Calu Tsemane in a beautiful interplay between the two vocalists, with carefully constructed saxophone melody. The album finishes with two predominantly rhythmic pieces, the playful Matue Tue with a simple saxophone melody and the haunting Metal Drum with an ominous buildup like a gathering storm.

The mix of Eastern African rhythms and vocals with European Jazz is sublime. Neither element is fighting for prominence; there is perfect harmony here. The band’s name means “one world” and, if this music is their vision of a global community, it is beautiful. To call Monoswezi a fusion band would imply that these two musical traditions were two separate entities coming together; while that may be the literal truth, it sounds like a pairing that should never have been apart in the first place, so perfect is the melding.

Favourite tracks: Ndinewe, Xtimela, Kalahari

Spotify link: Monoswezi – The Village
Sneak peak: 

Goat - World Music (2012)

This. Is. Brilliant!

It’s hard to find much information about Goat. Apparently they come from a village in rural Sweden, called Korpilombolo; notable, it seems, only because Goat come from there. Legend tells of a witch-doctor, who came to Korpilombolo after following a hidden message in an ancient text, and settled there, eventually turning the entire village over to voodoo. This was all well and good until the crusaders (obviously a bit lost on the way to the Holy Land) came to the village and burned it down! The fleeing villagers cursed the village and the voodoo curse still stands.

And that is, my friends, how Goat’s debut album World Music got its groove!

On Google maps, Korpilombolo looks a little more mundane, but that is something that could never be said about the album World Music.

This is a layered, pysch-rock/Krautrock album, with tracks delving into African drumming and enigmatic chant on tracks Goatman and Goathead, the latter with additional stoner-rock guitars; to rip-roaring sax and pysch-rock beats on Let it Bleed; polyrhythm funk on Disco Fever; finishing up with the trance-inducing pysch-drone organs of Det Som Aldrig Förändras (which translates to “as it never changes”). Honestly, some of these tracks wouldn’t sound out of place on a Can or Secret Chiefs 3 album.

The whole thing is one awesome funky, crazy-ass album, with instant appeal that you should listen to now… and forever more!

Favourite tracks: Goathead, Let it Bleed, Det Som Aldrig Förändras

Spotify link: http://open.spotify.com/album/2r4u8FPhj16cwpNJCNOjvh
Sneak peak:

Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Piñata (2012)

Diablo Swing Orchestra are a Swedish avant-metal band with a big leaning towards swing (as their name might suggest!). Always ready to put a symphonic metal twist on things, they could quite easily be dismissed by some as something of a novelty item, with operatic warbling, soundtrack-esque composition and nu-metal style chugging guitars; however, to do so would be to do them a great disservice  Yes, they are playful and prone to draw influence from non-metal sources, but they are an incredibly tight and talented group.

Pandora’s Piñata is the group’s third album after The Butcher’s Ballroom (2006) and Singalong Songs for the Damned and Delerious (2009), and their first since incorporating former session musicians to a permenant brass section.

Pandora’s Piñata is a great album and if you like their previous albums, you certainly won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t listened to them before, you may find the operatic vocals a little uncomfortable to begin with, but I shouldn’t think that would last for long.

I feel that, on this album, Diablo Swing Orchestra have expanded their influences to create an overall more dramatic feel, from the incidental music with trademark opera-style singing on Aurora, the use of strings across the album, the absolute pomposity (in a good way) of Of Kali Ma Calibre to the absolutely mind-blowing final 3 minutes of the last track, Justice for Saint Mary, which will leave you with shivers down your spine and a good taste in your mouth.

Favourite tracks: Guerilla Laments, Mass Rapture, Of Kali Ma Calibre.

Spotify link: Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pandoras Pinata
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