SAILOR & I’s debut album bounces between icy pop and beats-driven electronica…
The brooding, glacial pop appeal of Swedish artist Alexander Sjödin, under the guise of Sailor & I, previously caught our attention with the arrival of tracks such as ‘Black Swan’ and ‘Chameleon’.
Sjödin’s Nordic music sensibilities brought forth intriguing compositions that were often melancholic, yet had a sense of melody and charm about them. Now with the arrival of debut album The Invention Of Loneliness, it gives Sjödin an opportunity to demonstrate the breadth of his musical abilities.
“This process has taught me a lot about myself” suggests Sjödin, “It has taught me to not only use music as a form of escapism, but also as a way of connecting to myself, to get in tune with my inner self and luckily being able to find a way to share my story with other people to be able to connect with them. Making music can still make me feel like I’m five years old again and at tough times, it can make me feel isolated. It’s an emotional ride and that’s why I find it so important to keep on doing this, because it’s real. I need it in my life to stay in balance, to stay in tune with myself”.
The album opens with ‘Black Swan’, which was one of the tracks that really put Sailor & I on the map when it was released in 2016 (in particular, the superb remix by Maceo Plex). The track shows Sjödin embracing a dramatic soundscape with his ghostly vocals interjecting at moments.
As we previously said, ‘Chameleon’ has a subtle power to it that can take a few spins to appreciate. There’s a dark piano melody over which Sjödin’s yearning vocal offers hints of change or transformation. Meanwhile, a gradually-building slab of stark electronics gives the track a dark pop appeal.
Meanwhile, ‘Fire On the Moon’ utilises a lot of elements to arrive at the big, cinematic sound of the final composition (including the use of the classic Moog Rogue). “There’s a cold wind blowing through my aching bones” intones Sjödin on a track that’s big on cinematic arrangements and a busy set of electronics layered on top of each other.
‘Flickering Lights’ is, apparently, Sjödin’s attempt to pull in classical, house and electronica into one song. The result is a song that opens with a very sedate piano motif before opening up into a much more beats-orientated affair.
There’s a nice use of energetic strings on ‘Next To You’ which gives this track an unusual power that’s augmented by the almost baroque electronic rhythms that call to mind the likes of Austra.
The album steps down a gear for the slower paced ‘Rivers’, a track that at times called to mind fellow Swedes The Sound Of Arrows. There’s a nice combination of moody rhythms and smooth synth melodies at work here which changes gear yet again at the end with a detached and oddly evocative music box tune.
There’s a warmer feel on ‘Supervisions’ with its use of tribal chants and driving bassy synths. Meanwhile, the closes with ‘Black Stars’, an electronic reverie that’s a collage of different sounds, from choirs and strings to noise synths.
The Invention Of Loneliness is an album that adopts a range of styles that include both the glacial pop of the likes of ‘Chameleon’, as well as more instrumental compositions such as ‘Supervisions’. There’s also a competent sense of production on this release that gives the material a vital humanity next to the icy thematic tunes.
The Invention Of Loneliness is out now on Skint.
Sailor & I play at The Pickle Factory on 2nd March
Tickets on sale now – http://www.alttickets.com/sailor-i-tickets
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.