Are bloggers supposed to do that full disclosure thing? Like am I supposed to tell you that I have the Frodus head tattooed on my shoulder; that I was the first idiot to do this? Am I supposed to tell you that I have known Shelby Cinca since my late teens/early twenties and have seen his bands play numerous times in numerous cities? Am I supposed to tell you that I don’t give a fuck what you think about my disclosure of shit? Because I don’t. The fact of the matter is Swedish Columbia is the future of fucking music, it’s here right now, no matter who is behind it, the quality stands on its own and El Huervo, the flagship release of 2011 is nothing, I repeat NOTHING to fuck with.
I was just gonna set up this post today. I wasn’t even going to start writing about it. I have to drag my ass to Guitar Center soon to get new pegs for my bass, because I broke one yesterday cuz I am an idiot. I am a man with shit to do. But part of that shit I have to do is get completely engulfed in To Stop You Must Die the music made by artist Niklas Åkerblad. I dropped the digital needle down on the track “Burn” just to shake up the way I listen to records and I have to say, I’m a little terrified of how good this music is.
The deal is, this dude Niklas makes music and paints, and he interacts between both projects, one feeding off the other. And even though I know that from reading the small blurb on Swedish Columbia’s web site, you can tell this guy thinks about music in terms of its visual demonstrations. It’s science fiction movie type music, but you don’t need video to see the futuristic metropolis that the opening of “Vagabond” leaves you with. You can imagine yrself as a bearded, smelly dude, almost looking up in wonder at a new, futuristic city skyline, where it’s clean and wonderful. The bubbly sounds, they actually elicit a vision of bubbles in the air of this new plane of mental existence. It’s a bit mind-blowing that the music can just open up yr inner visualization like that. It’s creates instant day dreams. It makes me wish I had a shit ton of money and the ability to actually formulate a story. I’d turn that world into a reality of I could.
I had to go to band practice after down loading this album. I got in my car, it was cool, not cold. I rolled the windows down. I had a hard time concentrating on the road. Across the valley, Albuquerque is only about ten miles. It only takes 20 minutes to get anywhere in this city. It’s hard to really get lost in the effort of motion. But El Huervo’s transformation abilities are instant. And maybe it’s just the sunshine, but I find the music very uplifting, very hopeful. I probably almost killed myself and others in cars on I-25 heading towards Juan Tabo. I don’t know where I was, but it wasn’t planet earth.
In 2006 Ian Svenonius published his essays The Psychic Soviet. To much fanfare, Svenonious broke down musical performances through history, from the classic orchestras down to the curating, singular DJ. As technology progressed the ability to amplify and perform music required less actual performers. Today, it is possible for a persona with a musical vision and the vocabulary in which to speak through music to create and manipulate the sounds themselves. No longer do we require others to create. Sometimes, this makes for very one-dimensional, boring and uninspired sounds. But sometimes there is a true visionary who can only express the geography of music themselves. The problem today is that too often the so-called history of genius mutes our view of the product of today’s composers. We hold everything up to what we learned is genius, Beethoven, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix etc are all part of a lexicon of basic knowledge. But could those men create the music of El Huervo? We must ask these questions. Niklas Åkerblad is a musician first, but he understands how to use and manipulate technology to tell his story. He composes music, he isn’t just hitting buttons and moving wave forms around. Everything has a purpose. So where does that put El Huervo on that lineage shared and exploited by so-called academics and journalistic historians more interested in the past then the present?
Coupled with the actual music of El Huervo is a method of distribution that is appropriate for today’s available technology. In 1980, Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson created Dischord records, a record label interested in documenting and distributing the music from the Washington DC Punk Scene. They created a method of distribution that was self-reliant and offered their products direct to consumers for a lower price then the functioning, corporate major labels. In 2008, Shelby Cinca applied this model to new, available methods of distribution, allowing preview and direct, instant sales to a music buying public that operates in a sea of hyper-information delivery. Swedish Columbia is meant to serve a community, more global and geographically and physically disjointed, but a community of artists none the less. Swedish Columbia is at the forefront of music labels, by-passing the archaic, bloated models that the dinosaurs still cling to, all while presenting music that shares a common lineage, a common DNA.
To further invoke Mr. Mackaye through paraphrase, music created now is so much more important than music of the past simply because it is being made now. El Huervo’s To Stop You Must Die, while other worldly and futuristic in emotional presentation, is the music of now. So many people can purchase software and “play” “music” out of the box, sculpting beats, and typing in melodies with MIDI keyboards. But that can’t always be music, vision is so necessary. Niklas Åkerblad has a vision, both literally through his painting and figuratively in the composition and performance of his music. The future is now, the future is here. You need this.