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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Hans Appelqvist
Sinfantin och Mörkret

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

June 25, 2007
It is rare that an album can instantly bring you back to your actual childhood. Boards of Canada and Múm are two bands that are experts at memory recall, but the childhood portraits they paint are more cinematic and idealized than the real ones. Swedish noisemaker, samplist and acoustic guitar aficionado Hans Appelqvist knows the twists and turns of memory lane rather well, but the childhood soundtracked in his compositions is of a more stark variety. In Appelqvist's memories all the sweet recollections of hugs, bugs, and child's play are there, but so are the darker moments of fear (that hideous monster you know is lurking in the closet), anxiety (before the first day of school after spending the entire summer away in the country), and self-consciousness (of accidentally doing the wrong thing whilst among your friends). Before handing it over for you to enjoy, Appelqvist puts all the imagery together on a plate, both the bitter and the sweet.

On Sinfantin och Mörkret, his fourth full-length release (his third for the Häpna label), Appelqvist takes his sound exploration into great detail, filling the songs with different subtle sounds and noises. Every now and then you hear a cat meowing, a fire crackling, children shouting, or a scary lion roaring and, seemingly random as they are, all these sounds fit in well with the music. Put yourself in the mind of a little Swedish boy, watching children's TV-shows from the early 80's (and I'm not talking Disney here). Shows about learning to read, learning about the injustices of the world, learning what socialism is all about, and also learning that even if you're a good person, bad things might and most likely will happen to you, making you aware that the world can be a cold and scary place to live in. Sinfantin och Mörkret is like a soundtrack to all the messages infused into Scandinavian children's shows of the 70's and 80's, both happy and uplifting, but at the same time dark and depressing, just like life.

Out of the 12 tracks on the album, "Tänk Att Himlens Alla Stjärnor" stands out strongest from the crowd. To describe it simply, it's a lullaby with a whole lot of different noises mixed together with Appelqvist's acoustic guitar and soft vocals. A very cute song, one that can be enjoyed both by kids and grown-ups alike, "Tänk Att Himlens Alla Stjärnor" encapsulates the essence of Appelqvist's ambient music, but is also his most accessible work.

"Jag En Gök" is the another noteworthy track, centered around the call of a cuckoo, with a music box layered between all the ambient and animal noises. Lyrically, "Jag En Gök" tells the story of a cuckoo reminiscing what he's witnessed on the savannah somewhere in Africa. A simple, yet very captivating little story, the tale goes extremely well with the music, and again brings to mind something that could have been found in Swedish National Television programming on any given snowy evening in 1981.

Although a fine collection of songs, Sinfantin och Mörkret lacks any blatant "hits" (for lack of a better word), and the music might be a tad too experimental for the average listener. If, however, you find yourself open to non-conformist compositions and interesting sounds, or just want to experience what memories of being a little boy in Sweden in the early 80's sound like, this record is for you. As a bonus, it features cat sounds so cute they're to die for.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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