The Confusions of Sweden. In the past decades, inside the history of music and Independent Rock, there was a subject or an aspect that has always been important to understand the origin of their influences and movements, I refer to the territorial aspect, or meaning, in another way, the territoriality of the styles which “dominate” the musical scene in different parts of the world.
It`s true that many “invasions” happened around the globe and the most representative countries in this “battle” were always the UK and USA, for example psychedelic bands who emerge in the sixtees and seventees winning British bands in the first place but also the musical contribution of Northamerican bands, musical groups that fussioned a lot of styles creating a new one. It`s important not to forget that Rock and their styles born in the fiftees with the black music in USA, the Blues, Jazz, Soul, etc. All of this belong to an interesting and extend chapter inside the history of Rock containing their roots, born and evolution. It´s a huge matter and there is a great and complete bibliography to investigate and analyze.
Taking more examples we can mention a lot of eightees New Wave British bands that conquered the USA market and the rest of the world and on the opposite side, many upcoming groups from the United States achieved an important status not only in England but also in other countries. Another reborn was in the ninetees with the explosion of the so called “Alternative Rock” and the Grunge style in the USA, but only meant a stamp or label used to classify the groups without a traditional or pre-established genre or style. The alternative term always existed and was useful to recognize other groups that have a long trajectory and were part of a real underground scene or a true alternative scene. Also, in this decade, appeared many British bands with similar styles, it was the British Pop era or Brit-Pop.
In the other hand is very important the contribution of bands of other continents and countries like Germany where the Electronic style and the denominated Krautrock movement, originated at the end of the 60`s, influenced not only psychedelic and New Wave bands of the 70s and 80s, but also many groups as far as today reinterpreting in an intelligent way bands like KRAFTWERK, NEU!, CAN, AMON DÜÜL, FAUST, HARMONIA, LA DÜSSELDORF, CLUSTER etc. Also acts from Australia, France, Belgium, Canada, etc., citing some countries that supported the scene in previous decades.
SWEDEN LIKE A MUSICAL COUNTRY
In the present day, specifically the decades since the beginning of the 90s, 2000s until 2014, the management of territoriality has dissapeared or it`s radically changed, there`s not only a few or some countries where the new musical styles raise, we are in a brand new period, open and free, the new musical proposals can be found in different points of the globe and in remote or distant countries, the best artists are disperse all over the world, this is very important and healthful. Today we can know new and fresh bands or solo-projects not only from England, USA or Germany but also from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greece, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, Indonesia, Japan, Canada, México, Argentina, Brasil, Perú, etc.
All of this have been possible thankfully to the great technology advances like Internet that allows us to communicate, process any kind of information and expect new acts that will appear soon in the musical firmament.
Sweden is not the exception and several years ago has been consolidated as one of the most prolific and productive regions in the actual Indie scene around the world, definitely is a musical country, there`s a wonderful underground scene full of excellent bands with a variety of styles and many influences creating new sounds with their own touch. Many artists are consolidated with a great discography and the new ones that begin to fly with their first EP have a promiser future, also many Swedish acts have influenced other groups that are successful today like the Northamerican band THE DRUMS and MOTORAMA from Russia, that`s great. Mentioning some Swedish bands we have: ACID HOUSE KINGS, THE LEGENDS, THE RADIO DEPT., THE MARY ONETTES, KOLBACKEN, AEROSPACE, LAUREL MUSIC, I BREAK HORSES, THE BELL, THE CARDIGANS, NIELS NIELSEN, LITTLE DRAGON, THE BRIDAL SHOP, TWIG, SAMBASSADEUR, LOVENINJAS, COCOANUT GROOVE, etc. and a special and favourite band that shocked me the very first time I heard them for having an innovative and genial style: THE CONFUSIONS.
THE INCREDIBLE SOUND OF THE CONFUSIONS
THE CONFUSIONS of Sweeden is an extraordinary band with a fabulous mix of Psychedelia, Experimental- Rock, Electronic-Folk, Space-Rock, Post-Rock, Noise, Krautrock, rare and nice sounds and effects etc., but always looking at the future creating songs of emotive Pop melodies, explosions of powerful and strong guitars and also tender compositions full of sensibility, with a fresh, spontaneous and contemporary air. Adding in the mix the incredible voice of the frontman, MIKAEL ANDERSSON-KNUT, gives the group a very original trademark and it makes a whole with the cosmic and experimental side of their music and the melodic and symphonic part. Also I will mention that the production of their albums are superb.
THE CONFUSIONS have a wide range of influences: KRAFTWERK, HARMONIA, TANGERINE DREAM, DAVID BOWIE, BRIAN ENO, JOY DIVISION, WIRE, OMD, ULTRAVOX, FELT, THE STONE ROSES, THE CHARLATANS, THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN, THE GO-BETWEENS, THE HOUSE OF LOVE, etc., but THE CONFUSIONS really creates an authentic sound and a whole universe on their own.
Some years ago I heard this amazing band and I fell in love with their exquisite musical elaboration, full of sonic details and contends or maybe is much better than other bands around the world, that`s why I decided to collect their albums, write this lines, share them, and try to let them known a bit more. THE CONFUSIONS is not a new band, they are in permanent activity with more than 20 years in the musical scene and many great albums, these pieces of art are a must-have !!!.
FORMATION AND DISCOGRAPHY OF THE BAND
The band are native from Sundsvall, city located at the center part of Sweden. The actually members of the group are: MIKAEL ANDERSSON-KNUT (lead voice and guitars), ZARAH ANDERSSON-KNUT (synths and voices), MATTIAS LÖFSTRÖM (drums), MAGNUS THORSELL (bass), HENRIK SVENVSSON (guitar), and FREDIK HAST (guitar).
Their first musical release appeared in 1993 with the EP titled “Split” and the debut album “Being Young” (1995), an outstanding record influenced by the Psychedelia of the 60s and the 90s with good reviews. Their albums have been edited by the Swedish label Massproduktion.
The second big step was the LP “Everyone`s Invited” (1997) produced by PETER SVENSSON from THE CARDIGANS which started to define their style with great Pop songs in the same way or much better than Brit-Pop acts like PULP, SUEDE, BLUR, OASIS, etc. or we should call it Swedish-Pop?, an original album influenced by the Psychedelia style incorporating some elements of Experimental-Rock in comparison with the mentioned groups.
In the next year the band recorded the amazing album “Six-O-Seven” (1998) produced again by PETER SVENSSON, an album of transition where we can feel the previous style but even more Experimental and Folky giving signs of their upcoming musical adventure.
After a recess of four years THE CONFUSIONS comes back to triumph with their fourth full-length record: the strong and fantastic “Trampoline” (2002) which gave them a lot of attention not only in Sweden but in Europe and many countries, this album is a masterpiece and consolidates their style, a very ambitious record and a collection of hyper-elaborated songs. A brilliant record and a classic of this new millennium. I will describe every song on this album in the next lines.
The following album with great expectations was the stunning “5 A.M.” (2006), a big evolution in their discography predominating the loud guitars but always keeping the melodies and experimentation. Now the Noise-Rock style belongs here, a new twist in their music. Next year came out a compilation album of acoustic versions called “It Sure Looks Like the Confusions But It Sounds More Acoustic” (2007), an interesting album of their best live sessions showing the spontaneous and natural side of the band. More than acoustic sessions it´s an album full of incidental sonic details and experiments with new and different versions including new songs. An innovative and highly recommended record.
THE COMPLETE ALBUMS´ DISCOGRAPHY
In 2008 appeared their new masterpiece called “The Story Behind The Story”, an Avant Garde album, more sophisticated with new ideas and many styles, the band explore new unknown areas going deeply in their musical elaboration and experimentation…we found little and great instrumental pieces that connect the songs. Also the album was conceived as a double duration LP, almost 70 minutes of incomparable music, a non-stop and pleasant trip !!!.
Finally they edited “A Permanent Marker” (2010), their last studio album with an introspective and Pop feeling but keeping their rich and innovative sound as the previous records. The hyper-elaborated treatment of the sonic textures continues in this new material. The frontman MIKAEL ANDERSSON-KNUT have a parallel project called KOLBACKEN, their debut album was released in 2012, it`s so amazing like THE CONFUSIONS and sung in Swedish.
It´s a great notice that the members of the band have finished the recordings of their latest album. The first and brand new single from this album is the extraordinary song “It´s So Quiet, It´s So Cold” (2014) surprising us again with their original and charming style. The new album will be on stores in September 2014 with no title yet.
THE SONGS OF THE GREAT ALBUM “TRAMPOLINE” (2002)
Maybe most people remember the band for the marvellous and spectacular single “The Pilot” from their acclaimed album “Trampoline” (2002) which top the Nº 1 on the MTV Up North charts.
These are the songs that compose the “Trampoline” album by THE CONFUSIONS, I bought the japanese limited version with two bonus tracks and three videos, I will describe every single theme:
“The Pilot”: the first single from this outstanding album, an awesome track. It´s one of my favourites Indie songs of all-time…Spacy and Festive Pop-Rock to blow our minds, let us fly our imagination, many melodies “confused” on the way without crashing and combined so well, more solid and elaborated than their Brit-Pop contenders with another perspective in mind…the perspective of experimentation. Definitely one of the best songs of the 2000s, an instant classic !!!. Feel the infectious chorus …unforgettable !!!.
The Confusions – The Pilot
“THE PILOT” IS ONE OF THE BEST SONGS OF THE NEW MILLENIUM.
A good choice for a second track is “Days Go By”, it keeps the same pattern and musical style of “The Pilot” creating a perfect follow up, but this time the sounds are more rockier and psychedelic oriented, at the middle of the song the track turns more melodic, nostalgic and epic and the synths are played in an excellent way, a lot of sonic details, excellent !!!.
Pop comes back with “Tonight”, a fantastic song, very vibrant and optimistic with many electronic surprises where we can feel many voices´ changes. The female chorus give a good mood to the theme nicely interpreted by the keyboard player ZARAH ANDERSSON-KNUT who sings many songs in the next albums with a sensual and particular voice.
The Confusions – Tonight
THE CHORAL PART IN THE SONG “TONIGHT” CREATES AN SPECIAL ATMOSPHERE.
The next cut gives the title to the album: “Trampoline”, in the beginning the distinctive chorus comes back with the accompaniment of a warm acoustic guitar along the song, then is time to listen an electric guitar in a Neo-Progressive style which creates a good vibe and at the end a capella voices…gorgeous !!!.
“Painted People” is simply pure dynamite !!!… another of my favourite singles, a great experience to listen the majestic mix of energetic guitar riffs . First-class Experimental-Rock, loud and fast with many details and psychedelic effects located in a smart way…pump up the volumen to feel this catchy theme…the style that best define the song is the Electronic Post-Punk, irresistible and elegant !!!.
The Confusions – Painted People
WE CAN FEEL GUITARS FULL OF ENERGY IN THE DELIRIOUS CUT “PAINTED PEOPLE”.
“Don`t Shed No Tears”: A beautiful Dream-Pop-Noise ballad, what a good label !!!, but this label defines the song very-well…in the way the guitars begin to distorsionate with a lot of random sonic experiments very interesting and voices that we will discover every time, a real triumph !!!.
The Confusions – Don’t Shed no Tears
THE IMPRESSIVE SONG “DON´T SHED NO TEARS ” MIX KEYBOARDS INFLUENCED BY THE DREAM-
POP STYLE AND NOISE MUSIC.
The sonic trip doesn`t stop with the impressive “Changing”, a great tune and another of my favourites, one of the best songs of “Trampoline” !!!. Avant-Garde music full of surprising melodies, along the theme we listen the rhytmical and beauty sound of persuasive electronic drums…this style may be the next sonic direction in the future albums, we met again with a Neo-Post-Punk-Electro track with more quantities of Electronic music, amazing !!!.
“Commercial Break” is another of the great songs of the album and represents the follow-up to the previous track, all the sonic elements are here…the band shines again playing the electronic drums mixed with psychedelic guitar riffs, the last part has an epic final elaborated with Neo-Progressive and Noisy guitars…a gem !!!.
We get into the dreamy tune “Everybody”, a super elaborated tender ballad and one of the best moments of the entire album, an orchestrated song and more structured, full of violins and piano notes that show us the different faces of THE CONFUSIONS, all of this mixed with experimental details, controlled Noise, acoustic and soft guitars, effects and more effects, Mikael sings with a lot of emotion and nostalgia…simply delightful !!!.
The Confusions – Everybody (Slightly Different Version)
IS AN ORCHESTRATED THEME AND ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL AND EMOTIONAL SONGS OF THE RECORD.
A new and different mood comes with “I´m In Love With Myself”, a playful tune, agressive and insane, we can feel a guitar with a sixtees touch reminding me of the “Everyone´s Invited” (1997) Psychedelia style and also means an influence for the later “5 A.M.” (2006) album…a funny and Post-Punk tune…superb !!!.
“Stay (Paris Is Waiting For Someone)”, one of my favourites and a very elaborated song of the entire album…at the beginning we can appreciate Space sounds that reflect the influence of the Krautrock style, then guitars full of Psychedelia in an Avant Garde context, listen an infinite keyboard mixed with Mikael`s voice that diffuses for a while…at the end the keyboard notes disappear or get lost, a wonderful theme !!!.
“Like A Star”: A song that belongs to the soundtrack of a Sci-Fi retro movie, Surreal and Experimental, Abstract and Minimal Pop, from here maybe starts their masterpiece “The Story Behind The Story” (2008), THE CONFUSIONS offer us again a different side of their music in the same album…absolutely fantastic and out of this world !!!
The japanese edition comes with two exclusive tracks, they are:
“Wish I Had My”, ahead of their time, Lo-Fi music, analog sounds and a lot of machinery, melodic with a progressive vibe. Synth-Pop-Dark music, also the “Folktronic” label so used today can belong to this huge theme, the voice of MIKAEL ANDERSSON-KNUT appears in a first plane and then goes to a second one where the fuzzy guitars has more power, describing this song is a little tricky, it must be heard !!!.
“Skalaka” is the song that puts the end to this wonderful album and the second bonus track of this japanese version, it´s more Experimental than the previous one creating a song more intense and dramatic. This cut is the best example of what a band should do: experiment without loosing their identity, Post-Industrial and Dark-Rock …fabulous !!!.
The Confusions – Skalka
A TWIST IN THEIR STYLE IS THE DARK “SKALAKA”, AN INCREDIBLE END WITHOUT LOOSING THEIR ESSENCE.[divider]
The Confusions in the web[divider]
Photos and videos: cortesy of Mikael Andersson-Knut, The Confusions andEmil Nordin.
Design, graphics and aditional photos: Fernando Rivera Rodríguez.
Fernando Rivera Rodríguez: Architect. Has collaborated in the Rock Magazine Dosis: Alternative Culture Perú. Collector of Indie music, Experimental, Electronica, Shoegaze, Dream-Pop, Psychedelia, Krautrock, Post-Rock, New-Wave, Post-Punk, Dark-Rock, etc. since the 60s. to these days. Fan of 4AD Records label and bands like COCTEAU TWINS, STEREOLAB and DEAD CAN DANCE among others.