Album of the Week: 'Insaunas' - 'We Brought Some Days Back'
We have so much to cover this might only be a shortish review of 'Insaunas', but I definitely wanted to feature them, because 'We Brought Some Days Back' is the type of Indie album that we really appreciate at Nordic Music Review, and it's clearly been a labour of love over many years - and I know all albums are like that, but there's something unusual about this album that appeals to me, and makes it stand out from the norm.
So 'Insaunas' are from Sweden, and they consist of 4 musicians, Pontus Lindskogen, Axel Nelson, Max Bredberg and Arvid Nelson, 3 of whom have been working together for 4 years - Arvind joined more recently). Starting with demo tapes, they slowly and painstakingly experimented with different sounds, textures and versions of songs until they were finally able to head off to a isolated cottage in Höör, just outside of Malmö (with only a mouse for company obviously...) where they finally reworked and recorded the 10 tracks that make the album.
Hopefully if you listen to 'We Brought Some Days Back' you'll understand why I wanted to explain that detail, because whilst the music is understated and soft in its delivery, there is such precision too in every note and sound. Opening song 'Social Scene' has become an immediate favourite, there's a hint of bands like 'Ampop', and the guitar offers this background intensity, and the gentle melancholy vocals really hit home - appealing but slightly unnerving too. It's the detail at the start of 'Tursam Best' which I like, the mix of sounds and rhythms, and the contrasts between different instruments are unusual and interesting. 'Million Years' maintains that unrelenting guitar intensity, but I find both darkness and light in the song that I find intriguing.
Title track 'We Brought Some Days Back' is a really good example of how the music gets under your skin, again it's the relationship between the instruments that works so well, the guitars weave rhythms and melodies, the percussive instruments offer a different texture, and over time it gradually consumes both my house and my mind. 'Breaches' is pretty full on too, and whilst 'Light from Lack of Bone Marrow' is almost too much continual intensity, I like the vocal melody which just peaks through the greyness. 'Starfish Friends' is a more accessible conclusion, and maybe if you want an easier introduction to the band you could start with either the first or last track.
OK so let's be honest, this is not the kind of cheery upbeat album that you'll happily listen to as you get ready for your Friday night out, or pulsating through your headphones at the gym. It's based around the Swedish concept of 'Allmoge' (something that is both brutal and pious) and although my attempts to read up on the topic hasn't helped much, I get the feeling about the music manages to convey those feelings pretty much exactly. 'We Brought Some Days Back' has real raw depth to it, and its success lies in the intricate detail of the music writing, as well as the sounds and textures, and therefore manages to deliver with a power and potency that is almost unexpected. Maybe this won't be for everyone, but this album is an impressive achievement, and I hope it will get some attention.