Hans Appelqvist Sifantin Och Mörkret

[Häpna; 2007]

Rating: 1.5/5

Styles: collage pop, musique-concrète
Others: Thomas Dybdahl, Eric Malmberg, Tobias Fröberg, Elephant 6

It seems as if Appelqvist’s idea for Sifantin Och Mörkret was the same as those found on the long tracks off an Olivia Tremor Control album stretched to 25 minutes. There’s the multitude of field recorded sounds and snippets of what was probably at one point pop music, but everything is isolated and easy to discern; essentially, that dreamy swirl that made those OTC tracks so effective isn't found on this particular recording. Instead, far more emphasis is placed on the field recorded sounds than any of the musical elements of the songs, essentially forcing Sifantin Och Mörkret to be among the most aggravating music experiences for those searching for more pop than avant-garde.

It’s all here: children talking and laughing, foot steps, birds, dogs, cats and kittens, airplanes, whistles, farty trumpets, lions and other assorted jungle beasts, doors opening. The problem is that, despite the huge range of shit (stuff) that Appelqvist recorded to utilize on the album, it still only adds up to probably four or five minutes of sound. And that’s being generous. Needless to say, stretched over the 25-minute runtime, you get tired of hearing that lion pretty fast.

The album starts wonderfully with “Wanxian” and “Tänk att himlens alla stjärnor.” The former has a great, almost medieval, instrumental melody played by flutes and surrounded by piano, acoustic guitar, and bells. It’s genuinely gorgeous. The latter invites Mr. Field Recordings over, and he gets all in your face. The track is, at its base, an extremely pretty pastoral folk song with Appelqvist’s whispered voice singing one of the album’s strongest melodies, but the field recordings absolutely hijack any enjoyment one can derive from the track.

From there, everything falls apart. Melodies are hard to come by for the rest of the album and are, of course, overpowered when they show up. It all ends in an absolute “what the fuck?” moment with “Talkijangnas akt.” Multi-tracked electric guitars scream over some drums with horribly slick production, a bass grooves, and choruses of children yell back and forth to one another. It sounds nothing like anything that precedes it, and what’s worse is that it kind of makes you wish you could be listening to a kitten meowing and doors closing backed by random flatulent horns.

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