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Marko Nyberg (Finland) – Eureka (sample track from the album Solveig)

Yet another intriguing Finnish artist comes in the form of Marko Nyberg. He is the founder of the ambient pop band Husky Rescue, which has released four studio albums, toured the world and played major festivals from Glastonbury to Lollapalooza, as well as being featured on multiple TV adverts and dramas such as The Sopranos.

He was also one of the composers of ‘Black Sabbath – The Ballet’ for the Birmingham Royal Ballet in the UK. I can’t quite imagine Ozzy Osbourne in tights, but there you go.

This new solo project arose out of a “profoundly life changing experience of a near-death experience” and the loss of his father and draws inspiration from Hilma af Klint, a pioneering Swedish abstract artist and mystic.

He seeks to explore the boundaries between genres, sounds and art forms such as dance and abstract video art, combining neoclassical with techno.

‘Solveig’ is his debut solo LP, released out 5th April by El Camino Records (of which he is the head honcho), and this is the final track, ‘Eureka’ alongside which he released, as with all the tracks, a moving portrait by artist Mari Mäntynen. (i.e. meaning it moves rather than it will make you cry). The rationale was “to juxtapose the post-apocalyptic ambience of the album with a human presence, giving a face to the songs and grounding them in everyday life.”

The blank gaze is supposed to blur the line between reality and the dystopian fairy-tale of the album. See if it works for you. Here is your Eureka moment.

Incidentally, and outside the box, I was drawn to ‘Solveig’ because it’s one of my favourite Scandi/Nordic names, as indeed is ‘Ingrid’, which just happens to be the title of his debut EP, released in 2022.

‘Solveig’ is described as “a fever dream of cinematic ambient, neoclassical, and electronic.” All the nine tracks, each of which have one-word titles, are instrumental except for  ’Exit’ and ‘Eureka’ which feature vocals by Ringa Manner of the Finnish avant-garde pop ensemble Ruusut.

Why a “dystopian fairy tale?” Well, let’s take a closer look at ‘Eureka’, which is named after France’s response to the Ronald Reagan-era US missile defence system ‘Star Wars’. I remember it well. It’s a pity Ronnie didn’t persevere with it. Vlad wouldn’t be messing up Ukraine now, would he?

Nyberg’s generation spent their childhood in fear of nuclear war (again, tell me about it, I was barely old enough to understand what was happening but I could tell from the look on my parents’ face that we were all about to become nuclear dust during the Cuban Missile Crisis).

What Nyberg attempts to portray through his ‘cinematic roar’ is his philosophy that even if the worst were to happen, life would persist, bacteria and viruses would emerge from the ruins. Life goes on as they say and the next Masters of the Universe would be day-glo orange pangolins, or whatever was best able to adapt to the radiation.

Hence his objective is to convey the menace and feeling of emergency but without a “dead end” to it; leaving the outcome ‘open’.

This is manna from heaven for me because as regular readers will know, with thoughtful, testing music like this, be it jazz, prog, classical or whatever, the acid test is whether the composer can evoke the imagery he aspires to.

So, vocalist Manner sings “I am here / It’s quiet / You don’t have to worry” against a metaphorical background of wailing air raid sirens. Do those words, and the musical accompaniment, have the desired effect?

They certainly do, and I reckon the omnipresent slowly beating heart that pervades the piece also has a lot to do with it. I can imagine how ‘Eureka’ could be employed in air raid shelters at the height of a bombing raid (albeit not quite so loudly).

I did think in terms of a lullaby as well, but one of the sort used by Holly Herndon on her ‘Lonely at the top’ song, with its objective of inducing ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) in the listener, which is like a shot of dopamine.

I wondered, as I often do, which film, and which specific part of a film it might fit as a soundtrack. That was easy (returning to the Cuban Missile Crisis theme). It would go perfectly with Robert Kennedy’s drive to his meeting with the Russian Ambassador in the movie ’13 Days’ and his talk, effectively a ‘goodbye’ one. to his family prior to it, as it was the final shot, a trade off of a type never previously discussed, that would end the conflict or end the world, depending on its outcome.

An even then, speaking of leaving the outcome open, there’s a twist in the tale here in the outro, as what sounds like a marching army appears to be coming closer.

Clever stuff.

Alongside the release of ‘Solveig’, Nyberg is set to release a short film, MASS, which is a live amalgamation of music, movement, and visuals, showcasing Nyberg’s multidisciplinary live performances, which incorporate dance and abstract video art.

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