Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Lennart Ginman (Denmark-Finland) – War, ft Maggie Björklund and Steen Rock (sample track from recently released album 360)

Knowing I could only manage a sample track from this album, ‘360’, from Lennart Ginman, I would instinctively head for the first or second, from their simple, one word title alone. ‘She’ because it immediately put me in mind of Charles Aznavour’s classic, or ‘SOS’, my favourite ABBA song. But hey-ho, we’ve reviewed them already as they were released earlier as singles.

Lennart names each one of the 10 tracks with single word titles but that should surprise no-one by now. He is a purveyor of cinematic sounds and cinematic concepts and some of the best films (and novels) have had one word titles of course and in all genres – Vertigo, Fargo, Platoon, Frankenstein, Unforgiven, Jaws and so on. And of course the greatest of them all, Th’Exorcist, as we pronounce it in Oldham.

So why not an album full of them? Keep it sweet and simple.

I’ve mentioned earlier that he has described ‘360’ quite cryptically; that it has “been created with no ulterior motives, compromise or regard to existing genres, my only measure was to scale the shivers sent up my own spine”, and that it is “music for all, but not for everyone”, while observing that the title ‘360’ is supposed to be representative of the holistic nature of the work, the music building a bridge between the repetitive tightness and rigour of the (electronic) machine and the total openness of form in jazz, and that three Ms characterise his work, namely movies, melancholy and minimalism.

I hope you’re keeping up.

The acid test to me though, putting aside all of this philosophical conjecture, is whether or not the title of an instrumental piece, lacking any guiding lyrics, is representative of its content.

So I went to ‘War’, since the rest of the world already has by the look of it, while massed fireworks explode around my house like the finale of the 1812 Overture, as Guy Fawkes Night celebrations of a failed attempt to blow up Parliament centuries ago are played out.

‘War’ is the shortest track on the album, so don’t expect a musical War & Peace. I have no idea of whether or not it is supposed to be representative of battle but if so it fails at that.

What it does more likely suggest is the detail of the planning of a raid, a battle, or even of a campaign, the intricacies of the logistics, Lennart’s insistent double bass underpinning the occasional cracking sound to remind you of battle, which could even be the laying of a hand sharply on the instrument, or it could be an example of ‘FM-synthesis’, a specific approach to creation of sound he has developed alongside his collaborators Maggie Björklund and Steen Rock.

I’m in the habit of describing what a piece of music sounds like to me in respect of how it could be a soundtrack to a movie, or TV series or even an advert. In this case it would fit nicely into a French TV drama currently showing on British TV, Dark Hearts, in which a close-knit French special forces unit goes on special missions in Iraq.

Much of the ‘action’ takes place in planning, reconnoitring and getting into position; the tedium that precedes the short lived explosive excitement of the engagement and this piece would suit it perfectly.

Something else I also noticed about ‘War’ is that in parts it channels ‘Tubular Bells’, and especially in Lennart’s double bass contribution. And that’s no bad thing.


Lennart Ginman: Double bass, electronics, Digitone & keyboards

Maggie Björklund: Pedal steel guitar

Steen Rock: Drum machines, fxs & scratch.

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