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  • David Bentley

LE LAC LONG 814 - La Boîte (EP)

Well, NMR is fast becoming the home of the unusual and LE LAC LONG 814 does not easily fit any categorisation.

LE LAC LONG 814 is a Swedish music project creating a new Nordic version of “la chanson française” out of Swedish poetry. The multi-instrumentalist Daniel Östersjö, (guitar, bass, accordion) an artist in his own right, composes music based on the poetry of an acclaimed writer, Bengt Söderhäll, and together the two shape their songs in the tradition of the lyric-driven French chansons.

I’ve remarked previously on what seems to be a growing propensity to put poetry to music, especially in Scandinavia, and of the fact that another of its leading exponents, Åsa Larsson, aka Resmiranda, is also resident in this area. The duo hail from Älvkarleby, in Uppsala County, Central Sweden.

This is their new EP, ‘La boîte’ (in English not just ‘the box’ but The Music Box, and in SwedishSpeldosan. Nothing to do with Genesis’ ‘Musical Box’ I hasten to add.

Le Lac Long has toured Europe and performed in France, Belgium, Denmark, and the Czech Republic as well as Sweden. Their first album was entitled simply ‘Treize Chansons’ (13 songs) and ‘La boîte’adds three new songs to their repertoire.

‘L'ombre d'un bourdon (De rien)’ (The shadow of a bumblebee [Of nothing]) is the last flower of the autumn as in mother-of-modernism’s Edith Södergran’s ‘the last bumblebee in October’, “painting the shadows with its magic wings, just from nothing.”

‘Ils aiment’ (They like or They love) is a French waltz with a coronavirus-related opening (somewhatprophetically written long before the pandemic): "They never make / the rest of the journey / the planned / the unknown / since uncertainty / has already filled them", with the spice of migraine, a romantic exposition of the body. ‘Ils aiment’.

‘La boîte’ is the small musical box where the bumblebee and the round song reside, until you spin the handle and the music comes out. This is what happens also when you open a book of poems, with your ears open for the melodies to come. And the song is equally small to match, coming in at just one minute 25 seconds.

Each song is delivered in a slow, acoustic instrumental style (piano, acoustic guitar, organ) with a relaxed, verging on soporific, vocal; and Hallelujah, there isn’t a synthesiser in sight. Each of themalso is replete with the atmospheric je ne sais quoi of a backstreet café on the Parisian Left Bank, drenched in the smell of Gauloises cigarettes and the flavour of pastis. Serge Gainsbourg is lounging in a corner chatting up Vanessa Paradis, who is waiting for a taxi, while Edith Piaf is quietly regretting rien in another. Coming through the door is Eric Cantona, who is discussing why ze seagulls follow ze trawler with the ghost of Jean-Paul Sartre. You get the idea.

This seems an odd time to put out such a reflective, contemplative work and in any other year it would be. But this year they’ve nailed the mood perfectly.

Nordic Music Review 7/10

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