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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Eric Malmberg
Verklighet & Beat

Rating: 9/10 ?

October 12, 2007
Swedish label Häpna has been on a role with a string of incredible releases, and it seems like the group just gets better and better with each recording. I keep telling myself that they're going to have to hit a plateau, from which things will head at least a little bit downhill, but no. It doesn't happen. Häpna just keeps trucking.

Eric Malmberg, former songwriter for Sagor & Swing ("Fairytales & Swing" in English), is the latest contributor to Häpna's tradition of inventive releases. Upon a foundation laid with a Hammond organ, Malmberg creates mood music that, much like fellow label mate Hans Appelqvist, has its roots in traditional Swedish songs and childhood imagery. The result is of course fantastic, an outcome perhaps assured by Häpna's rep as the poster label for good taste.

The title of Malmberg's second solo effort is Verklighet & Beat, which translates to "Reality & Beat," and it is an album with which the composer has taken a definite step away from Sagor & Swing; the melodies have a more contemporary feel to them, and you can almost feel Malmberg's constant need to update his sound. While Sagor & Swing were more or less along the same lines as Swedish ambient guru Ralph Lundsten, Malmberg's solo releases follow more closely with the output of Boards of Canada. It should be said that Malmberg still stays true to the jazzy sounds of his roots, which is a constant a relief, since this is the essence of his art.

Three tracks - namely "Min Kompis Anton," "Leksand, Tidigt Nittiotal," and "Milda Döden Hämtar Oss Alla Till Slut" stand out above the rest on Verklighet & Beat. All three songs are compositions of the more introverted kind; slow and sparse, and with plenty of room for Malmberg's beloved organ. "Leksand, Tidigt Nittiotal" makes great use of the Swedish folk music heritage, with a musical imagery of deep pine woods, pitch black forest lakes, and stories of trolls and gnomes inhabiting the countryside. The use of a key fiddle is another great touch, connecting the folk music heritage with the contemporary ambient scene.

Eric Malmberg created great music during his tenure with Sagor & Swing, and he continues to do so in an ever-changing manner with his solo work. Verklighet & Beat finds Malmberg in continuous evolution as a musician, hinting at tons of new paths for him to explore. I'm already looking forward to his next release.

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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