The Swedes Bjorn Synneby and Daniel Hogberg protect themselves behind a double conceptual alibi to give coverage to their second work after “Reveries” : on one hand, it is expected that in the coming months, in their native Gothenburg, they will premier a ballet based on these songs; on the other hand, they are alluding to a Narcissus reflected in the water. “Narcissus” in any case, despite its narrative line, inhabits two differentiable terrains: that of science fiction atmospheres that have as much space disco as they do vestiges of a revival of the electronic that in it’s day catapulted Jean-Michel Jarre into the category of a Martian enamoured of theremins and interstellar travels, as well as just the right amount of dance music indebted to French house. For some reason, Pacific! has always been labelled as being a renovated version of Daft Punk (although there is also space for more deliberate moments). Pacific! neither opens nor discovers a new sound spectrum, but that B-series air of the majority of their compositions deserves a bit of attention in these times when the beat barely has narrative intentions or interpretations.
From the beginning, “Arcadia”, they make it clear that their retro-futurist position is one of the greatest points in their favour. The sound could form a part of a hypothetical soundtrack of an extraterrestrial invasion—or of a John Carpenter film, stretching a bit– and this is something that from the first moment can be seen as one of the main aesthetic resources that they exploit over the course of these eleven songs, along with the use (and abuse) of the harpsichord as a historical survivor of the metaphysical sound. We don’t know what Bach or Frescobaldi, two of the greatest exponents of music for keyboards in the Baroque, would say of this reiterated instrumental use, but they would surely be delighted to see that their legacy has survived today, even if it is in such an unorthodox manner as this.
In the same way that “ Arcadia” , “Cupid” or “Halfheart” co-exist in a single sensorial space in the form of interludes that try to distance themselves from the rest of the pieces, Pacific! also knows how to explore the other extreme. Those who think that late-night dancing has no place in the album can always seize on “Venus Rising” –a space interpretation of Goldfrapp’s “Lovely Head” that ends up overwhelming the listener when all of the effects and synthesisers break out. There is also the song that gives it’s title to the album, six minutes of Parisian drums and Moroder-style synthesiser melodies that would make Vitalic’s mouth water, reaching its zenith and splendour when an electric guitar roars from out of nowhere, phantasmal, in the final minutes of the cut.
Keeping in mind that Pacific! has created the album as a cohesive unit, measured to the millimetre, it is logical to understand why the vocal pieces that were the basis of “Reveries” are now a third wheel. When they appear, they break up the rhythm of a section whose main attraction lies more in atmospheric suggestion than in more evident electronic pop. The vocal part of this bizarre trip through the cosmos can be heard in the Beach Boys meets Hot Chip song “King of the Night” , or in the imitation of Sally Shapiro in “Unspoken”. These are the songs with the most immediate listening, but they vanish quickly from one’s memory because, deep down, they end up tainting the real (good) intentions of the Swedish duo: something like trying to emulate Jarre’s “Oxygène”, over thirty years later.
Sergio del Amo