Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Hög sjö (Sweden) – Gnosienne no. 6 (EP, forerunner to a debut album)

Hög sjö translates as ‘high lake’ in Google. But ‘heavy sea’ according to the press release. Perhaps I’ll middle it and go for ‘heavy lakes’ even if he does make light work of this three-track EP, ‘Gnosienne no. 6’, which is intended as a taster for his eponymous debut album will be released on January 27th via Smuggler Music.

‘Gnosienne no. 6’ completes a trilogy of EPs released this year, with the title track forming the opener of the album. The others were ‘Raki’ and ‘Close to God’, both of which also offered a taste of the forthcoming album.

Exactly how you pronounce Hög sjö is a mystery to me. It is the artist moniker of the Swedish Grammy-nominated producer, musician and songwriter Patrik Berger, who is originally from Uppsala, like numerous other artists who have appeared in the pages, and the brains behind hits for the likes of Robyn, Charli XCX, Diana Ross, Tame Impala, Taylor Swift, Sigrid, Lana Del Rey and many more.

If you were expecting to hear material like you would expect from any of the above, forget it. It’s as if he’s given himself carte blanche to just go off and do something completely different like a bloke of a certain age might buy a Harley-Davidson motor bike, join a hippy commune in India or sign up with a swinging club.

Instrumental soundscapes are his bag here, pulling together influences of world music, film music, rock and classical composition, aided by musicians such as Jesper Nordenström (piano/keys), Nils Törnqvist (drums), Andreas Hourdakis (guitar), Isak Hedtjärn (clarinet)/saxophone/whistle), Evan Smith (saxophone/flute/keys) and Yoann Durant (saxophone).

I certainly hear the ‘film music’ in all of these three compositions, particularly the title track, and, as I seem to say quite frequently these days it’s often of the variety you used to get in 1970s American TV cop dramas (think especially of ‘Columbo’, perhaps the incomparable ‘Man in a Suitcase’).

Another way to describe it might be as jazzed-up chamber music scored by Mike Oldfield with the final track, ‘Away’, recorded in a school playground.

The word gnosienne comes from piano music Erik Satie used as a title for a composition and which didn’t fit into any of the existing styles of classical music. Satie was involved in Gnostic (estoteric mystical) sects and movements. And yes, this work doesn’t really ‘fit’ either.

Sonically, it will take you on a mystery tour of familiarity if you get my drift. (I’m not sure I do!!)

If that all sounds a little abstract, the EP definitely is; but it is equally inspiring and guaranteed to lift your spirits.

As it is an EP, even if it is only three tracks, it qualifies for an NMC score which is 7/10.

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