How time flies. It must be seven years ago now since I saw Tonbruket performing live, at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester. They opened for Ane Brun and then doubled as her backing band and very nicely thank you.
The Ruby Lounge is long gone now – I think it might be a slot machine arcade or something like that – as is Gorilla, where I next saw Ane Brun, although I can’t remember if Tonbruket backed her then.
To be honest they’d slipped out of my memory banks until I saw a post on Instagram promoting their new song – from Ane Brun! The venues might be history but the artists are still going strong.
Let’s be honest, technology has turned this music business into a village, hasn’t it?
‘Hermetic Boogey’ is the first single from the forthcoming Tonbruket album ‘Light wood, dark strings’, which is out on October 13th on Smuggler Music.
It’s an intriguing title. A boogey is the act of scaring or intimidating someone, or in urban slang an online stalker. I don’t think Tonbruket would write a song about one of those. To boogie is of course to dance rhythmically to rock music.
Hermetic can mean an airtight seal that ensures perfect waterproofing. Your fancy Rolex watch that can survive being immersed in the Atlantic Ocean for a year would be hermetically sealed.
But it also means “relating to an ancient occult tradition encompassing alchemy, astrology, and theosophy”.
So the best guess is that they wrote a song about wishing to dance while being sealed in and unable to do so.
Now, if you add their explanation of how the song came about, we’re getting there. They say,
“’Hermetic Boogey’ was written during the first phases of the pandemic. The piece serves as a time capsule of the period when musicians composed music in a vacuum. Strumming the essence of isolation. The question of why we write music became pressing during this period and we answered it to ourselves by making sounds that comforted our ears and souls.”
So, sealed under lockdown they aspired to make the music they would dance to?
Quod erat demonstrandum. (I think).
The painfully slow passing of that initial time period (we all remember it) is calculated in Dan Berglund’s bass line from the start (it’s almost counting out time) but is accompanied by something deeper, more sinister and gnawing; the uncertainty of the future, represented by Martin Hederos’ mournful violin.
That it stops, waits and then restarts, adds to the atmosphere (a trick that was used successfully in the Jaws film theme).
And when a profound hi-hat and snare join in, the marking out of time becomes even more pronounced.
But from the moment the guitar is introduced (and which becomes almost flamenco like), at around the 2:50 mark, the tension begins to ease as a light at the end of the tunnel is observed (the vaccine?), even if it is tempered by an edgy violin which might be interpreted as the advent of new strains of the virus.
That’s my reading of. I might be fairly close to the intention or I might be talking gibberish. What matters is when a band like Tonbruket can write music without the addition of vocals which can tease your imagination. And they do that very well on this track.
Find them on:
Dan Berglund – Bass
Martin Hederos – Violin/keys
Johan Lindström – guitar/pedal steel
Andreas Werliin – drums.
I had no idea Andreas Werliin was a band member. He is one half of Wildbirds and Peacedrums. I saw them open for Arcade Fire in 2010 at Dalhalla, the open air venue located in a huge former limestone quarry in central Sweden, and what a job they did considering their music is so far removed from that of the Canadians. I’ve seen his other half, Mariam Wallentin, since, as a solo artist, and that gives me greater incentive to check out Tonbruket again.
Unfortunately they aren’t scheduled to play in the UK but they do have shows throughout Sweden and one in Norway in October and November. Check the website for details.