Category Archives: Scandinavian scene

Flat, Naked and Selfish

lthough D-A-D had their commercial peak in 1989 with “No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims”, my personal favorite period is 95-97 with “Helpyourselfish and “Simpatico”, there is a unique punch and aggressiveness in that period, that I just prefer to other albums they have done, even though they have made many other great tracks over the years.

Helpyourselfish – Helpyourselfish

The band was born in Copenhagen, Denmark a in the early 80’s as Disneyland After Dark. Their original sound was something later referred to as Cowpunk, an odd mixture of simple “punkish” hard rock and country music. The name was changed to D-A-D due to a possible conflict with Disney after they got international attention with “No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims” and the single “Sleeping My Day Away”.

Helpyourselfish – Flat

Even though their music can hardly be called mainstream, D-A-D have become a household name in Denmark, after 11 albums and more than 30 years on the road, where they have played Roskilde Festival more than 10 times. They have now reached a status where they are on national television almost every time they make a new album.

Helpyourselfish – Naked

After Helpyourselfish, the next album Simpatico was overall as an album a little less rough in the sound, and to some extent more melodic, but the style was still harder than the earlier material.

Simpatico – Simpatico

Their latest album “DIC·NII·LAN·DAFT·ERD·ARK” was released November 2011

 

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Some Solid Copenhagen Sound

Today a look at a Danish band “The Sandmen”, the band was formed in Copenhagen 1985, with album debut in 1987. Including some breakups and makeups and some line-up changes the band is still active. Even though their record company at the time A&M send them on a promo tour in 1989 to Canada and the USA, they never made it big outside Denmark.

The English guitarist  Sam Mitchell born in Liverpool joined The Sandmen in 1988, and was an important part of the sound in their prime years until 1995. Mitchell had previously played on Rod Stewarts Gasoline Alley (1970) and Every Picture Tells a Story (1971). After the breakup he was weakened by tuberculosis and died in 2006 only 56 years old.

The Sandmen’s last album came out in 2014 for the first time the band changed their language to the native tongue, but the sound was pretty much the same, a good solid classic rock with a drop of psychedelia.

Tribal Ritual Psychedelic Rock

Swedish band Goat, jumped out of nowhere and into the sprawling scene of neo-psychedelic in 2012, with their debut “world music”, followed by “Commune” in 2014.

The band covers their origins, warring masks in live shows, acting as a loosely connected music community of nameless members, and by a story of them springing from a collective of townspeople in Korpilombolo, located north of the Arctic Circle, a small town of native Sami people, and a few Scandinavian settlers. Creating a tradition of ritual music, in praise of pagan Gods and ancestral worshipping.

The cover story works well with the music, there is a strong sense of tribal pagan ritual coming from their recordings, on a base of stoner/psychedelic rock, with a rarely seen mix with influences from a wider range of styles sounds and rhythm patterns. Goat’s albums are a new interesting breed of psychedelic rock, no matter if you like the mystery or not.

The Joy of Samla Mammas Manna

Samla Mammas Manna was formed in Uppsala, north of Stockholm , Sweden in 1969. They got a Record deal with Silence Records, and released their self-titled debut in the spring of 1971. Samla’s music was very playfull yet avant-gardistic, a kind of freeform Jazz/Rock with elements of Swedish folk tradition.
Samla have undergone name changes over the years, mainly due to changes in lineup. They also released albums as Zamla Mammaz Manna and von Zamla.

The form was further refined on their second album “Måltid” from 1973, where more elements of Frank Zappa’ish avant-garde, Jazz/Rock and Prog was added, “Måltid” stands as a highlight in their production.
Samla’s music has a wonderful sillyness, craziness and humour, very unique to the Scandinavian scene at the time, where everyone was very radical and focused on a political agenda.

Samla Mammas Manna, was part of the original “Rock in Opposition” movement, and took part in the first RIO festival in London. They participated in Several RIO events and Samla Mammas Manna also organized a festival in Stockholm. Samla Mammas Manna organized a Henry Cow tour in Sweden, and Etron Fou organized a tour for Samlas in France.

RockInOpposition_flyer

Lars Hollmer, the founding father and main creative force behind Samla, died 25 December 2008. But on the 2014 Japanese Rio festival held in November, his name, his music, and his spirit will be honoured, by Sola/Lars Hollmer’s global home project, a Band formed by Hollmer and Japanese Avant musician in 2001.

Lars Hollmer – The Global Home Project – 2002

Remedy Lane

Pain of Salvation, is a band from Eskilstuna, Sweden. Even though it would be fair to say Pain of Salvation is a Progressive Metal band, with their ever changing approach to music, they land pretty far for the genre stereotype. From the more metal oriented albums, to the extreme complex “BE” about the concept of GOD/Universe ect. , including a 9 piece classical orchestra, to the latest albums duo, Road Salt I and Road Salt II, where they explore a more blues rooted rock, and a bit of gospel, combined with some Prog Rock elements, but not a lot of metal.

All of Pain of Salvation albums are concept albums, although more or less obvious. This also goes for the albums in question here, Remedy Lane from 2005, center around bandleader Daniel Gildenlow more or less autobiographical lyrics. Daniel Gildenlow vocal is very passionate and strong, sometimes reminding a little bit of Mike Patton.

Remedy Lane is a clear highpoint in Pain of Salvation production, an atypical Prog Metal album, with the weight, on emotions and strong songwriting, rather than on showing of technical abilities.
Pain of Salvation is definitely worth digging into, whether as a representative of today’s very developed Swedish Prog Rock scene, or as an alternative to more traditional (Prog) Metal.

The Dragon, The Hird, The Bittersweet Love Song

Yukimi Eleanora Nagano, was born and raised in Sweden, to a Japanese farther and a Swedish-American mother. Since 1996 she have been vocalist in Little Dragons, a band she formed with high school friends, playing downbeat Trip hop, and electronic Pop.
From: Little Dragon – Little Dragon (2007)

On Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach, Yukimi co-wrote and Little Dragon was featured as guest performers on two tracks. Little Dragon was the opening act for Europe and Australia on Gorillaz 2010 tour, and guest performing live on those two tracks.
From : Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (2010)

Yukimi wrote the lyrics and delivered vocals on Swedish house artist Hirds instrumental Keep Your Hird, re-released with vocals as “Keep Your Kimi”, as well as on other tracks from Hird’s “Moving On” album.
From: Hird ‎– Moving On (2004)

Yukimi was also performing vocals on two Koop albums. Koop is a Swedish Jazz, Acid Jazz, Trip-hop duo. There clean and unique sound is recognised as highly innovative in electronic Jazz, delivering a retro Jazz music, in a modern package.
From: Koop – Koop Islands (2006)

Koop’s albums features several guest vocalists, another interesting performance on Kopp’s 2006 album, Koop Island, was Norwegian singer/songwriter and guitarist Ane Brun.
From: Koop – Koop Islands (2006)

Ane Brun have been based in Stockholm, Sweden since 2001, recording seven solo albums. Her style is often Folk inspired, very stripped, focus is on the song and the vocals, often very emotional, reflecting on themes of love, with a mature bittersweet insight.
From: Ane Brun – Rarities (2013)

The song was written for the Film “A Thousand Times Goodnight” that won the Special Grand Prix of the jury at the Montreal Film Festival.

The Wild and beautiful Child – Savage Rose

Savage Rose in my book, is the most interesting band, to ever come out of Denmark, and the vocals performed by Annisette is simply world class. Even though Annisette’s husband Thomas Koppel suddenly past away in 2006, Annisette and Savage Rose, is still active, and a new album will be out in 2014.

From Black Angel 1995

The Savage, was formed in 1967
At the age of 18 Thomas Koppel ‘s wrote a Hans Christian Andersen opera ‘A MOTHER’S TALE’, and became a sensation for it’s dramatic power and professionalism, vocal knowledge, and sophisticated orchestration. A MOTHER’S TALE was performed by THE ROYAL OPERA for two consecutive seasons. During his teens and earliest twenties Thomas Koppel’s musical compositions developed into larger, important orchestral works, performed by major orchestras and soloists. In 1968 at the age of 24 he’s had become so influenced by the “beat” music of the 60’s, that he decided to form the Savage Rose. He was the major force behind the band to his death in 2006.

The original Savage Rose made 6 albums, the last “Dødens Triumf” (triumph of death) an instrumental (with one song) ballet, The ballet, became the biggest success ever of The Royal Ballet – a sell-out over 30 years now, with performances as far as at the The Metropolitan in New York. With more than 250,000 sold, The CD/LP is one of the biggest selling mostly instrumental records ever in Scandinavia. The theme song has newly been re-released in the US by Rhino Records.

From Dødens Triumf (1972)

The original band split up, Savage Rose recorded the gospel/jazz-albummet “Babylon”, with help from Jazz saxophonist Ben Webster. After this they put together yet another Rock band, and recorded Wild Child the last “English” vocals Album, for a long time to come.

From Wild Child 1973

Savage Rose (mainly Thomas & Anisette) had lost interest in the Record Industry. They stil play music, but now free concerts in small communities of Copenhagen, had become their focus, and the song writing was now by Annisette in Danish. From 1978 – 1994 Savage Rose made recordings again, all of them in Danish, and with a much more acoustic sound than before. The Lyrics are increasingly political, as everything else about Savage Rose, actively denying themselves any major income from their art, living in the Slums of Copenhagen, when not touring Europe.

From Savage Rose 1968

In 1995 they sign a contract with Mega Records, and trough contacts in Copenhagen met with George Duke (Yes that GD). Thomas and Annisette moved to Los Angeles, where George produced
Black Angel. Savage Rose had changed a lot, the sound was American Jazz, Soul, Reagge but never the less it was somehow still very much Savage Rose. The record becomes a major hit in Denmark. Putting Savage Rose back up where they were in the early 70’s. I have seen Savage Rose life several times and nothing is as touching and beautiful as Annisette singing.

From Love And Freedom 2012

Opeth – unspoiled beautiful, youthfully brutal

“Masters of Darkness” Part 3

Today Opeth have changed a lot since they were formed back in the mid 90’s.
But in this context of Scandivavian darkness, I will focus on the Opeth sound we hear on the early albums, they created between 1995 and 1996, their debut “Orchid”, and “Morningrise”, this is the virgin Opeth, unspoiled beautiful, youthfully brutal.

From Orchid

Orchid, was the closest Opeth would ever come, to the sound of the Black/Death Metal scene, But even so, Orchid combines influences from acoustics folk music and Jazz music, with death metal/heavy rock. As well as having both clean and growled vocals.

From Morningrise

On Morningrise, Opeth, or rather vocalist Åkerfeldt, leans a bit more towards clean vocals than on Orchid, but the album is otherwise still very dark, and continues the feel of the debut, though perhaps a bit more complex and experimental. The album contains only 5 tracks, all more than 10 minutes long.

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Ulver : “Providence”

“Masters of Darkness” – Part 2

Norwegian band Ulver have allways been very unpredictable. From black metal to soundscapes, from symphonic to noise, a musical evolution and experimentation you find in very few bands. with a heavy reliance on electronic recording techniques.
The only clear line, is that they are almost always dark and melancholic.

From 1995-1997 they made 3, folk-themed black metal albums, Bergtatt 1995, Kveldssanger 1996, Nattens madrigal 1997, Kveldssanger with classical guitars, cello and chamber chants, less heavy , while still having a folk theme. With Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1998), came a sudden shift in style moving into a mix of electronics, industrial, avant-garde, ambient and metal, a double album of epic proportions. Since then Ulver have been all over the place, with different experiments.

“Providence” from their eighth studio album “Wars of the Roses” features Kristoffer Rygg’s deep vocals contrasted by female vocals from guest singer, Siri Stranger. A beautiful piece mixed from several styles.

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Green Carnation

“Masters of Darkness” – Part 1
Scandinavia is cold in winter times, and not only that, there is very little light, very short days. No wonder the Rock Music coming from these parts of the world, is often very dark, in a seemingly honest deep felt way.
Lets listen to some of these masters of darkness.

From The Acoustic Verses 2006

“Green Carnation” was originally a Norwegian Doom Metal band, but they changes styles over every album, covering a wide spectrum of styles within the range of Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal. The final release (so far?) The Acoustic Verses, being a dark, but soft, acoustic rock album, with folk elements.
Green Carnation was formed from members of the experimental/progressive metal band “In The Woods…..”
Green Carnation split up in 2007, but the front man Tchort, has announced an album “The Rise and Fall of Mankind “ to be released at some point.

From “The Quiet Offspring 2005”

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