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  • David Bentley

LE LAC LONG 814 (Sweden): La casquette / Mössan (EP)

Mais non, le NMR n’est pas devenu une magazine française seulement pour l’homme qui pense.

Readers may recall the central Swedish duo of musician Daniel Östersjö and writer/poet Bengt Söderhäll and their ‘chansons françaises’ from a few weeks ago.

Shortly after we featured them I received a message from Bengt, who is also a visual artist and a cartoonist, that he would send me a few items in the post. They turned out to be a fantastic little collection of drawings, lyrics, poems and booklets. These guys really are the personification of multimedia.

In his letter Bengt describes the LE LAC LONG 814 project as “chaotic”, that they “don’t know where it will take them”, but that they are determined to “have fun” with it. This is the next release, to be followed by more in March, June and September; all in French.

This release, comprising ‘La casquette’ (the cap, or hat in French) and ‘Mössan’ (hat in Swedish) is two sides of the same coin.

The work is inspired by Stig Dagerman's (a Swedish journalist and writer) play A Fiddler's Hat (La casquette du musicien) and is connected to the French book publisher Éditions Belloni's bilingual edition of the play that will be released next week. The book has a preface by Stig Dagerman's daughter Lo and an afterword by Bengt Söderhäll.

A Fiddler's Hat was written by Dagerman for Swedish radio in 1947 and first released seven years later. It was originally thought of only as the first act in a planned drama, but continuation never came. During the years, Dagerman made several drafts, but was not happy with them.

When French actor and writer Anny Romand started Éditions Belloni and contacted Bengt Söderhäll about the script for the play, he was persuaded to write song lyrics based on it. He had come into contact with Anny Romand when she read his poems a few years earlier, in connection with his bilingual book Réflexions sur le lac long, which presumably is how the duo’s name came about. (The 814 refers to their postal code).

Two years ago, LE LAC LONG 814 debuted with their album ‘Treize Chansons’.

When they started rehearsing for the single ‘La Boîte’, which was released last December, they talked about how they could reach more people interested in what they do: songs in French made by two Swedes, which sounds like a script from The Muppet Show. So Daniel went home and recorded La casquette and Mössan.

One of the delights of this job is the daily contrast between what we listen to. Only the other day it was the raucous, relentless, pounding math rock of Pom Poko. Today it is these sophisticated accordion and acoustic guitar-led chansons of LE LAC.

Is anyone else doing anything like this? I mean, even in France? It is so evocative. Last time, they transported me to Paris’ Left Bank. This time I’m in Montmartre, lunching on a croque monsieur and café au lait at a little place close to 36, Rue Tholozé, where Papillon lived. France Gall is at the next table, playing with a rag doll and giving me the eye.

Dream on, Dave.

LE LAC LONG marked the EP’s release with a live performance of the two songs on their Facebook page:

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