Kolbacken: musical art from Scandinavia

Kolbacken: musical art from Scandinavia

In many manifestations of art, like Painting, Sculpture, Literature, Theater, Architecture, Music, etc., the creators express their talents with a personal trademark that identify and define them, showing a unique style or many styles, always evolving and maybe obtaining an absolute masterpiece.

In the same way the artists can generate something completely opposite and radically different of their own style or a new extension of what they have created to give a big step to a new proposal maintaining their roots or leaving almost all of them.

To conclude, many times the artists try to explore, looking for new roads to experiment, and in some way, unfolding and creating a new identity and presenting a distinct panorama.

About the musical aspect this can be translated into bands, duos or solo-projects that are being recognized by an ascending career and a defined Musical style. Their fans are expecting a new album or EP at the same Musical level of the previous albums or maybe innovating and evoluting to listen new sounds and conceive a subsequent album without escaping of their personal universe.

On the other side many musicians try to innovate in another way, not only releasing an album every two or three years, but going beyond changing their codes and concepts to offer a totally new proposal or project, parallel to their band. This project could be totally apart, and it appears on their way. In other cases the band raise a new formation after splitting up or not with a different name. Finally the group can join members from other bands, merging and creating a new band with a fresh sound.

The birth of a great project

A great example of a band that takes the risk to present a new project or a new agrupation is the fantastic Scandinavian band Kolbacken, coming from the city of Sundsvall in Sweden. Kolbacken represents a great interesting project with rich soundscapes, high-level detailed melodies and very accurate Experimental Music and Post-Rock Music.

Kolbacken 2
Kolbacken’s project is created by joining members of two great swedish bands: The Confusions and Trummor & Orgel.

I`m talking about a project because I think is the best way to define the members of an established band that are reinventing themselves looking for a different focus, and it happens from the encounter of the members of two great bands: The Confusions and Trummor & Orgel, both from Sweden. Since this encounter, new ideas were on the way, and then they materialized them with the creation of a new sound and finally the birth of a totally different and independent band from the two previous bands. At the same time, they can keep their own style, but combining or mixing many elements from both bands will appear an innovative conception.

The Kolbacken sound

Kolbacken show us a wide Musical exploration so elaborated where the spinal column is made up by the Post-Rock and the Krautrock style. At the same time the Experimentation and the Avant-Garde side meet fundamental roles without leaving the Post-Punk style sweetened with delicious Pop melodies and a Revival of the Music of the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

It`s important to mention that their sound is very contemporary using the latest technologies to create an original style and an attractive proposal like any new band emerged some years ago or today.

Kolbacken 3
We can taste new flavours and amazing experiments in the sound of Kolbacken.

When I listened for the first time the songs from Kolbacken they remind me the great voice of Mikael Andersson-Knut, frontman of The Confusions, for being the same but sung in Swedish, but it was only the beginning. After then, I had separated completely the two bands because Kolbacken offers new sounds and different concepts and also is very important to mention that the proposal is sung entirely in Swedish showing a new facet, something so good and different that defines the sense of the band. Also the name of the band sounds great in Swedish.

Themes sung in swedish for all the world

The most part of Swedish groups and from all over the world sing in English to be more accessible to the people because the English language is more universal, but Kolbacken did the same in the opposite way. It`s not common that bands of the present and also from the past sing in their native language and Kolbacken surprises us listening their songs sung in Swedish because they have a really good vibe in this language.

At the end, the conjunction between the accent, the sounds and the Music create a whole universe on it`s own and that`s why their proposal is so original and great. The songs from the band catch us for their consistency and their fantastic Pop melodies, maybe we like it more sung in their natal language and at the end Music is universal…from this point of view the language is not a barrier.

Kolbacken 4
Listening the songs sung in swedish it’s very special and original, a good vibe.

Some examples of another bands: the legendary and cult band Stereolab with an exquisite blend of French and English thanks to the incredible frontwoman Laetititia Sadier that continues making Music with an extraordinary solo career with three released albums. Indochine, also from France, whose singles had a lot of airplay in the radios of Lima in the 80’s, and sung in French, the idiom was not an obstacle. Actually the band continue with a succesful career.

In the case of Germany, the iconic and transcendental band Kraftwerk, fathers of Electronic Music, who released their albums in English and German. Xmal Deutchsland, another German and iconic band who were part of 4AD Records in a first phase and finally Nena, a beautiful German band, who elaborated their songs in German and English, best known for their single “99 Luftballoons” with a worldwide success. I like more the German version of this outstanding track.

Tne members and the debut album

Kolbacken means “Carbon Hill” and is a place located in Skönsberg, a part of Sundsvall in Sweden. This place was chosen as the band`s title by the frontman Mikael Andersson-Knut, where the family of his father was raised and lived there.

Kolbacken 5
Front cover and back cover of the vinyl signed by the band members. The art is amazing !!!… We can see flying umbrellas seeming to be UFO’s surrounding the architecture on the central part. (Photos: Fernando Rivera Rodríguez).
Kolbacken 6
The last two songs of the vinyl version are not included on the CD version and vice versa. (Photos: Fernando Rivera Rodríguez).

The members of the band are three known musicians for being part of the amazing group The Confusions, from the city of Sundsvall and they are: Mikael Andersson-Knut, on voices, guitars and keyboards, Zarah Andersson-Knut, on the piano and keyboards, Fredik Hast on bass and finally Staffan Ljunggren, on the drums, from the great Swedish band Trummor & Orgel (Drums & Organ), coming from the city of Upssala, a well-known band in Europe for their clever mix of Psychedelia and Jazz.

The musicians from both bands decided to give life to this exciting project and then was released the debut album titled “Kolbacken” (2012), under the Swedish label Massproduktion. Before the album they released several singles with a great success. This album is full of intense Pop melodies where every song is very original and show a solid band at their highest point of creativity. The album was produced by Mikael Andersson-Knut and the art of the singles and the LP are truly awesome !!!

The singles

Kolbacken 7
From left to right: The first single “Slutna Ögon” (Eyes closed) and the second one, “Sent” (Late).
Kolbacken 8
The third single “Stenstan Brinner” (Stentan on fire) and the last one “VI Kommer Aldrig Mer Att Komma Tillbanks” (We’ll never come back).

Kolbacken (2012): The spectacular first record

Again the process of describing the songs included on the album was a richness experience. It was very interesting listening the whole debut album, composed by ten songs, where every single theme represent a main part of it and because they were carefully chosen to define the character of the band and bring us an innovative proposal full of sounds and styles.

Kolbacken 9
The CD and the back cover also signed (Photos: Fernando Rivera Rodríguez).

These are the themes on Kolbacken’s first album (CD version):

1. Stenstan Brinner (Stenstan On Fire): Stenstan is a place located on Sundsvall where a fire was a real catastrophe in 1888. The video was filmed in that place commemorating the 125 anniversary of this fatal event and this song talks about that.

Musically speaking, we are living in a new era, in a new wide-opening world and this song represents the real Musical proof of that, a great introduction to Kolbacken’s own world.

All the instruments used and all the sounds goes on the same way to create a Motorik tune. This is a Post-Rock song, so Jammy, Dreamy, Progressive and also influenced by the Krautrock style. Feel the sonic experiments with a lot of 80s synths… one of my favourites and a perfect example of the Indie Rock of our times!!!

“Stenstan Brinner” – Kolbacken

Feel the Post-Rock style in all it’s glory on this great motorik tune.

2. Slutna Ögon (Eyes Closed): The debut single from this amazing album. A cute and heroic melodic Pop song. The structured is different from the first theme and Mikael Andersson-Knut’s voice shines with an extreme emotion, so melancholic and nostalgic, but hopeful. In the middle of the track appears a very well-crafted solo guitar that breaks all the melodic side turning it in a more aggressive song, a great change.

DJ`s from around the world: don`t forget to program this song on the radios, it will be well-received… another of my selected cuts… so glorious and brilliant!!!.

“Slutna Ögon” – Kolbacken

The pop and melodic side of Kolbacken is present in this memorable track.

3. Så Ser Jagg Att Du Ser (You See As Jagg): A heavy and rough cut. This theme show us another style or a different point of view of the band bringing in a first plane their strongest and rockier side with the constant sound of a Darky and sinister guitar. Much more Experimental than the two previous songs incorporating a Post-Punk vibe without leaving the Pop feeling. The voice is obscure and a little deconstructed giving a tough character to the song… all the energy of the 90s is present in this hard Indie-Rock song… an awesome guitar is the center of attraction… a powerful and virtuous song!!!.

4. Vi Jagar Drömmar Ikväll (This Night We Will Follow Our Dreams): This time Kolbacken open our senses in this beautiful acoustic and Folky ballad, once again the band show a new path. The warm voice of Mikael is so touchy that we can breath pure tenderness… a tilting guitar goes around the entire theme to create a Dream-Pop tune. As the title says, we can make our dreams come true… pure pleasure.

5. Vi Två (Both Of Us): Most of the bands placed the songs of an album in a selected order to give the listener a continuous way to appreciate them and this cut means the perfect follower of the previous track. Another wonderful ballad with a lot of 80s soundscapes. The persistent and elegant drums, played exceptionally by Staffan Ljunggren, create an amazing song with an optimistic vibe including many guitar details.

6. Vi Kommer Aldrig Mer Att Komma Tillbaks (We`ll Never Come Back): The Kolbacken sound is more present than ever in this awesome track, one of my selected songs and also released as a single. Now is time to feel a Psychedelic ballad where the drums again are kind introducing and taking us to new spaces where Music draws a lot of coloured shapes through many rich experiments… a dark-illuminated exceptional ballad and a joyful and majestic tune!!!.

“Vi Kommer Aldrig Mer Att Komma Tillbaks” – Kolbacken

Another beautiful single where the drums are the central part combined with a psychedelic style.

7. Sent (Late): The second single and one of the most elaborated themes of the album, simply fantastic, epic and wonderful. This song has a variety of styles like Dream-Pop, Psychedelia, Krautrock, Post-Rock, New-Wave, Post-Punk, Experimental Music, Space Rock, Electronic, a little of Shoegaze, etc. Finally they all mix to create a new one and a sophisticated and original song.

The piano give a good mood and an orchestrated feeling and this track fits perfectly with actually bands like Efterklang, Late Night Venture, The National, The Radio Dept, Guitar, etc. A hard and melodic cut at the same time full of many layers of vibrant guitars and Electronic and Experimental effects… a triumphant theme!!!.

“Sent” – Kolbacken

One of the most wonderful songs of the whole album and full of many styles introducing a great management of the guitar, so epic and illuminated.

8. Det Kommer En Dag (The Day Will Come): Welcome influenced guitars and synths from the 80`s but the song shines on it`s own with new concepts and the latest technologies of the present. This song is more Pop oriented with Funky and Dance rhytms and echoes of bands like The Human League, Talk Talk, Duran Duran, etc. A new turn in the Kolbacken`s sound. So attractive, provocative and Groovy… let`s dance !!!

9. Ge Men Aldrig Ta (Give But Never Take): An impressive song and the longest of the entire album, more than six and a half minutes!!!. We found here a Neo-Progressive cut, so cybernetic and futuristic, using many Electronic elements, refined details and sonic effects of great precision. Mention apart is the excellent treatment of the song using authentic whistles all over it giving a unique and original taste.

Also we can listen catchy melodies surrounded by non-stop keyboards and very elaborated guitar solos until the final part of the song that ends with the sounds of a drum like a tribal style… another of my selected cuts… simply awesome!!!

“Ge Men Aldrig Ta” – Kolbacken

A neo-progressive and electronic theme that take us to an amazing and futuristic sonic trip. The video was recorded by myself in Lima and Miraflores, Perú.

10. Säg Det Försiktigt (Telling It Softly): We reached the last song of the album, more Avant-Garde oriented and starts as a calm and tender ballad with Folky and acoustic elements like a Barroque-Pop and Renaissence air combined with Organic Experimental effects and Electronic Music. A warm and soft lullaby to be explored many times… giving signs of what become next… the best end for an outstanding album.

A peculiar detail on the CD version review is that the final two songs are not included on the LP version and vice versa. A nice changing on the list of songs and we have two different versions, so original!!!… Here is the review from the last two songs of the vinyl.

The songs included on the vinyl version

11. Allting Börjar Om (Everything Starts On): One of the exclusive songs of the vinyl edition. The structure of this theme is more Dark and gloomy… another great Jam and a Post-Rock exercise on the drums accompanied by many choirs. At the half of the theme the guitars are very effective and acquire a greater role helping to create a Psychedelic and a Progressive atmosphere. At the same time we can not set aside the influences of the Post-Punk style, the New-Wave of the 80s and the alternative Rock from the 90s… an elegant proposal!!!

12. Samla På Saker (Collecting Things): This song, which ends the vinyl version, is more catchy and infected again by great choirs. I like the contrast between the Pop and Folk melodies with a Dark touch. Then the luminous part of this tune is more prevalent by the incorporation of piano notes dotted by small but intense moments of drama. Excellent second final for the LP version!!!

The frontman of the band, Mikael Andersson-Knut, told me they have recorded nine songs for the second album and they`re satisfied because is a really good stuff. The new songs will appear as singles before a whole album…nothing is official yet but I think is probably that this year Kolbacken released their second record.

I highly recommend the beautiful songs of Kolbacken to all the real lovers of Indie Music and get the album, every track is enjoyable!!!. When I listened a couple of songs I decided to get it… you will never be disappointed of this sonic trip.

Photos and videos: Courtesy of Massproduktion and Kolbacken.
Additional artwork, graphics and photos: Fernando Rivera Rodríguez.
Video recording of “Ge Men Aldrig Ta”: Fernando Rivera Rodríguez.
Translation: Fernando Rivera Rodríguez.

Fernando Rivera Rodríguez: Architect. Has collaborated on the Peruvian magazine Dosis: Perú`s
Alternative Culture. Collector of Indie Music, Experimental, Electronic, Shoegaze, Dream-Pop,
Psychedelia, Krautrock, Post-Rock, New-Wave, Post-Punk, Dark-Rock, etc. since the 60`s to the present.
Fan of the 4AD Records label and bands like Cocteau Twins, Stereolab and Dead Can Dance among others.

Follow Kolbacken on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kolbacken

See also:

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About The Author

Fernando Rivera Rodríguez

Arquitecto, ha colaborado en la revista Dosis: Cultura Alternativa Perú. Colecciona música Indie, Experimental, Electrónica, Shoegaze, Dream-Pop, Psicodelia, Krautrock, Post-Rock, New-Wave, Post-Punk, Dark-Rock, etc. desde los años 60s hasta la actualidad. Admirador del sello 4AD Records y fan de COCTEAU TWINS, STEREOLAB y DEAD CAN DANCE entre otras bandas.

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