Swede:art Swede:artEmotional Colours
“ All City Records is impossible to deal with.” This is a recurring theme in musical conversations among those of us who like fresh, retro-futuristic beat. The truth is that, yes, the Irish company has “the catalogue” and, in a way, marks the pace of this small group of customers. Nevertheless, there is life beyond All City, little uprisings of other followers of the omnipresent “ JayDeelai Lama” who add references, spread out across time, but worthy of attention. In these little groups, affection and something similar to devotion (but lighter) means that everyone has their favourites. In my case, the apple of my eye is Tokyo Dawn Records, with its headquarters in Germany - Cupid’s arrow struck with the debut of Portformat. It also helped that among its usual collaborators, it had ambassadors from Stones Throw –always a sign of quality– or names that I like to follow, like Pursuit Grooves, Robot Koch or Suzi Analogue.
Joachim Prügl, a.k.a. Swede:art, is this choice company’s latest acolyte. Nothing out of the ordinary: Bavarian, another music-lover raised in the heat of 90s rap who has passed from mixer to producer, with an important stop in this process: Red Bull Music Academy, which he participated in last time it was held. There he shared space, time, and knowledge with the big guys, and although we cannot be entirely certain if this “Emotional Colours” was on Prügl’s mind before going through the RBMA, we can say that the album’s 16 songs have passed the quality technical inspection that is the academy. And although I have no insider knowledge here, I dare say that the order of the songs coincides chronologically with the order in which they were designed, if not conceived. “Emotional Colours” starts out anchored in the orthodox structures of hip hop, with predictable four by fours, an elegant soulful halo, and vocal collaboration in the singing. Trite but pleasant; not very risky, but effective. “ Linguistics” is closer to neo-soul than anything else, thanks to the voice of the Swedish straY, followed by the soul spirit of “ You Live Forever”, which is possibly one of the best plays in the first quarter.
Nevertheless, this first quarter has an exception. “ Black Mining” opens the album and foretells what is to come, starting with “ Sex on the Airplane”. With the slower, much heavier, more powerful beats, peppered with details of looped, treated, or broken-down voices, drops of wonky, and an eye on space journeys, Swede:art uncovers his more imaginative side as a producer – or plucks from the knowledge he gained at the RBMA, which is also possible. It’s always good to have one foot in the past, to know where you come from, but you can only move ahead by looking towards the future. Appealing to rhythms of the present, there is “ Wonkybikez” or “ Change”, two different versions of wonky. The first is more histrionic and lighter, with claps and laser gun shots. The second is much more serious and solid, resting on a base of fits and starts, increasing the bpm’s. Dubstep appears with its more pleasant face on in “ My Home Is Not Here”, which especially reminds one of productions of his fellow countryman Robot Koch with the vocalist Grace: sophisticated atmospheres thanks to little details like a pair of keyboard notes here, a beautiful voice with an echo there… A song that is bare if you compare it with Caits Meissner’s 2step jazzy and spoken word exercise. I don’t know what she’s got, but it’s impossible not to be completely hypnotised by her discourse to the point that you ignore anything that forms the musical base. The variety of sounds doesn’t end here, but extends throughout other pieces, making this debut a sort of catalogue of Swede:art rhythms. “Emotional Colours” is a good CV, with a little experience, good training, and letters of recommendation in the form of collaborations. It’s too early to be the employee of the month, but there are plenty of reasons for him to pass all the phases of the selection process. Mónica Franco