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LP $24.95

02/05/2021

E/N 059 


"I met Elin Engstrom and JJ Ulius in February this year. They had played in London the night before and I had really enjoyed the gig. The following day I decided to go out and maybe buy some records. It was in Low Company (a now defunct and much missed record shop in Hackney Downs) that I met them preparing to head for the airport and back home to Gothenburg. We were introduced and I said how much I had liked the show, and straight back, almost without blinking, JJ Ulius said, ’What did you like about it?’ I wasn’t simply being polite; I did really enjoy what they did. But I guess I was blithely expecting the conversation to follow the path of least resistance, and all of a sudden it wasn’t. He had a look in his eye like the question was serious but also not, teasing me slightly, but also wanting more than a platitude in reply. At the time I think I half-arsed something about Elin’s use of contact mics and the way the songs seemed to appear out of noise and clatter when you weren’t expecting it. This seemed to serve as a place-holder and the conversation petered out in a friendly way. Then they went home and so did I.  So what do I really think? I’ve been lucky enough to live with this new LP for a couple of weeks now and it’s still unpacking itself, revealing new angles and facets all the time. The thing I tried to articulate about catchy songs coming together out of chaos still holds. This seems more together than the last one, more song orientated, and slightly more benevolent. But I still get the feeling of process, tiny scraps of melody and loops of found sound, sometimes building into full songs, and sometimes not. The songs themselves have the same quality: speaking becoming singing, melody here, then gone, leaving a trace of feeling that sticks fast. The method of working is very much intended to be present in the finished product. This builds on a rich history of a certain kind of pop music. The best bits of early Felt, Painted-Word-era TVPs or Comet Gain’s Realistes appear and disappear as I listen. I can hear the speculative traces left by any number of bedroom synth-pop dreamers, Neo-folk fantasists and crusty punks in their quieter moments. There’s a dub element too, the space the music moves into is made explicit by rattling echoes, bass rumbles, and vocals left hovering in empty rooms.  But that isn’t quite it. What really gets me about this stuff is the sudden moments of heartwrenching familiarity. The places where the music makes an abrupt left turn, from somewhere studied and deliberately cool, to dredge up, for me anyway, a highly emotional childhood encounter with music. Out of a smokey squat bedroom or a communal art school kitchen and straight into listening to my first walkman in a hospital bed or spacing out during a Christmas carol service. On The last record it was a two-note lift from Berlin’s Take My Breath Away and here it’s a too-brief detour into Silent Night. Maybe, finally, it’s this direct route to wideeyed listening before knowing that colours this music for me, and that, to answer the question, is what I like about it."—Jack Rollo, 2020

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