AGEBJÖRN & ÖGREN: We Never Came to the White Sea (2017)
“A real musical and unexpected surprise from Sweden which mixes Electronica, soundscapes, E-Rock and even a zest of Berlin School”
1 As I Passed the Vyartsilya Border Crossing 9:55 2 Motor Stop, 6km to Suoyarvi 2:36 3 The Lights of Lakhkolampi Pass By 6:54 4 0:55 In Matkaselkya 7:28 5 Relentless Rain Over Ladoga 7:06 6 Aurora Over Odega 6:07 7 Four Hours to Karhumäki 5:31 8 Sunset in Vodlozerski 4:16 9 The Rajakarjala Forests 7:18 10 Sleepless on the Kostomuksha-Petrozavodsk Night Train 6:37 Spotted Peccary | SPM-3301 (CD/DDL 63:48) (V.F.) (Électronica & E-Rock)
Some distant waves, which switch shapes for icy breezes, and the very ethereal voice of Anneli Andersson, who murmurs pleasantly some more or less suggestive panting, are opening the very panoramic dimension of As I Passed the Vyartsilya Border Crossing. Tribal percussions and layers of synth with tones of the 90's get under this carpet of voice and of breezes, pushing the rhythmic structure which overturns quite slowly into these electronic rocks weakened by a New Age approach that even Tangerine Dream has never managed to remodel in these years where EM flirted with the very Easy Listening genre in order to get through the waves of the Californian FM radios. And nevertheless, this first title gives the kick-off to an album which lets us perplex, both by its beauty and by its mosaic of styles which amazes and seduces all along the sonic odyssey of Johan Agebjörn and Ögren Mikael. Written within the framework of a soundtrack (which is still unreleased) for a road movie filmed by the duo during a journey that both accomplices made in the Republic of Karelia, now Finland, which is the native land of Johan Agebjörn's grandfather, WE NEVER CAME to the WHITE SEA is another album of a stunning freshness from the one who gave us The Mountain Lake in 2011. An album which unties the cords of snobbery in consideration of a style to another one.
Motor Stop, 6km to Suoyarvi is one of those small phases of ambiences of the cold nights of Russia which abound all around the 10 tracks of this album. It establishes this climate of ice-cold nights where hoots a symphony of wolves. Tears and sighs! Circles of ice on a freezing pond that a huge finger tickles, and voices of cherubs heard through an old transistor, The Lights of Lakhkolampi Pass By gets rid of this oneiric intro to offer a heavy bouncy structure which glitters of these techno of the 90's. The duels between these lines of harmonies and the sound effects of a psychedelic world on a heavy and humming rhythm tore that style between the melody of the airs, which flew away with lightness, and the cacophony of the rhythms. And it's idem here! Between ambiences bluish by layers of wintry, where shiver some chords in suspension, and a heavy rhythm, the synth stays in a very attractive mode with harmonies which remain in the repertoire of Tangerine Dream in the Miramar years. And we stay in the very acceptable candy pink cuteness! 0:55 In Matkaselkya changes things with an approach of dark atmospheres where the percussive effects frolic in the mirrors of their echoes. A delicate voice of Elf lays a strange quietness which seems so paranormal while an intensity wanders without reaching a climax, playing rather on the shadows and the effects to give a rather crepuscular dimension to the music. Here, as everywhere in the album, the synths are very good and develop layers, effects but also solos and lines of harmonies which always manage to seduce. And the voice of Anneli Andersson is always so heady. Relentless Rain Over Ladoga brings us into Robert Schroeder's territories with an electronic rhythm, a kind of Berlin School, guided by good and very juicy sequences and others more in mode Techno Dance. Arpeggios flutter around under the resounding convulsions of the heavy booms-booms while the orchestrations are as much catchy and flying as those which livened the good titles of dance in the 70's.
Aurora Over Odega is a remix of a Tommy' 86 music piece that the duet plays here with a heaviness as smothering than sensual. The rhythm is heavy and intense with samplings of Sally Schapiro's voice, for a long-time accomplice of Johan Agebjörn, on a good slow dance knotted around some rather poignant orchestrations. Four Hours to Karhumäki follows with a good electronic rock which is decorated of good effects, one would say a ski gliding on a hard snow, and others, especially at the level of the percussions, structuring a tempo which gives the impression of running after its breath. There are good dramatic effects around this title which sparkles at the rate of its stroboscopic sequences. Sunset in Vodlozerski amazes by its the approach of Jazz and Lounge. Without words, the voice of Anneli Andersson is always to make the ices melt. The Rajakarjala Forests proposes a linear structure mounted on a structure of rhythm heavy and lively with steady pulsations which get eaten away by strange effects of cawing. Still here, the effects of percussions are very effective and give an additional weight to the numerous charms of this 1st collaboration between both Swedish musicians. The effect of the violin, played by Anders Frostin, adds a tribal touch of the Middle East rather special to this track of which the roots are soaking into an Electronica of a the psybient kind. Violin which breathes just as much in Sleepless on the Kostomuksha-Petrozavodsk Night Train which ends WE NEVER CAME to the WHITE SEA on a rather colorful note where the rhythms and the ambiences get torn with less violence than in The Lights of Lakhkolampi Pass By. I adore when I fall on something totally unexpected! And it's exactly the case here … A very beautiful album.
Sylvain Lupari (March 7th, 2017) ***½**
Available at Spotted Peccary Music