Somnambule - Writing About Music

Collectanea, First Course ~ Swedish Electronica (DVD)

Collectanea is a compilation of recent Swedish electronica – you might momentarily wonder whether you know any Swedes working in that field then think big deal and forget about the subject. The difference is that this compilation is a DVD containing videos for each of its twenty tracks. As for me, I didn’t recognise any of the names with the exception of Andreas Tilliander, but don’t let that put you off as Collectanea definitely has both visual and sonic treats in store for anybody willing to listen and/or watch it.

One of the things I thought I would have to be wary of was the danger of being swayed by excellent visuals masking the shortfalls of uninteresting music. In fact it seems that the better tracks have managed to attract the more interesting visual interpretations.

Standout tracks include Here Goes Nothing by Dorothy’s Magic Bag – an upbeat breakbeat outing like a simultaneously warm and icy winter wonderland. A real joy to listen to, the video by Henrik Friberg is a really great interpretation of the sounds: if you’ve ever seen the 3d animation to Autechre’s Gantz Graf and noted the exact audiovisual synchronisation then imagine that technique applied to a car journey travelling round a Swedish city through falling snow. It definitely made me pine to be in that particular car listening to the track.

Henrik Friberg provides visuals for two other tracks, one of which is a great piece of moody glitch-house by Malcolm D (where they do they get their names from?) where he creates an entirely apposite series of images of industrial areas with fields of numbers applied to them - again perfectly sync’ed to the music. In a similar musical field Vita provides a driving number laced with glitches and superior atmospheres.

Andreas Tilliander contributes a piece of very fine dubby soundscaping, all unpredictable angles and sonic sideswipes – like an abstracted tai-chi master’s moves (which come to think of it is an actual video to another track on this compilation). Anders Ilar’s fine ambient track Tank is accompanied by a gorgeous piece of ambient videoscaping (building cumulo nimbus clouds merging with attractive typography) courtesy of Christoffer Tornerhielm.

At the other end of the aesthetic spectrum come a number of videos such as AC9’s soundtrack to a sillysweet story of a couple of Star Wars plastic figures who fail to win at PacMan until they enlist the help of a third figure and then triumphantly achieve a high score and Marcus Wrango’s video for Role Model has tiny figures riding little motorised trikes about city streets to amusing effect.

Given space and time there are more tracks I’d like to mention and although not all of the music or visuals are memorable, there’s a high enough percentage of great music married to great visuals that I’m happy to add this disk to my expansive collection of music DVDs (thereby doubling it…)
Colin Buttimer
October 2003
Published by Milkfactory