When reading about Fredrik, you’ll see a healthy dose of Animal Collective (QRO album review), Grizzly Bear (QRO live review), and Sigur Rós (QRO live review) tossed in to describe the Swedish duo’s one-of-a-kind, understated folk, infused, experimental pop. There may be hints of those indie music icons, but the Malmö-based duo’s sonic creations suggest obliviousness to the contemporary pop culture. After all, according to frdrk.org, they are "dimension-traveling forest foxes". These sylvan creatures, Fredrik Hultin and Lindefelt, with help of four backing members, evoke the mystery and aura of a timeless, woodsy surreal world on their sophomore effort, Trilogi.
Fredrik’s acclaimed debut, Na Na Ni, embarked on a sound oddity journey to a dark, windy world with a childhood innocence; the follow up, Trilogi, continues the trek but the author(s) have grown up to be an introspective young adult with fantastic nightmares. Comprised of three limited edition EPs, Trilogi‘s 13 songs, which are titled in Swedish but sung in English, may be more challenging than other artsy, high concept album like Owen Pallett’s Heartland (QRO review). The first three songs are from Holm, approximately translates to "Frozen Forest Island", the next four songs belong to Ava ("Water Through Sound"), and the last five tracks fall in Ner ("The Inside Underground"). The press release for the album doesn’t make it any easier for the casual listener to understand: "They represent a trilogy of contemporized viewpoints of the Lovecraftian dream passage – orientation at great cost and understanding at the risk of sanity."
On opening track, "Vinetrbarn" (Winter Children), Hultin gently warns, "The more you agree the more you can breathe". With carefully orchestrated disorienting combination of percussions and icy piano resonance, Fredrik welcomes you to a world, where you may find unbearable beauty or experience horror by getting buried deep underground in it’s icy melancholia. The vocals become more soothing and gentler on the following tune, "Milo" and the distinctive words evolve into chorus of hums by the fourth track, "Den Sistsa Fabriken" (The Last Factory), showcasing their serpentine instrumentation with cello and acoustic guitar slicing into hypnotic keyboards while the bells and chimes gently hover in the background.
Another lyric absent track, "Vanmyren" commences the second part of Trilogi. The banjo has replaced the singer in a hall of rhythmic cling-clangs. Hultin’s warm and gentle voice returns on the next two songs. Among the pounding, pacing percussions and crooning alto horn, "Ava" reveals to be one of the album’s more accessible tunes. The Ava chapter closes with "Under Vattenverket", an instrumental of trickling aquatic sound that slowly fades into silence, which lasts for the last twenty-five seconds.
In the Ner world, Trilogi becomes more ominous, especially with the instrumental track, "Trestusen Violer", which would fit nicely in an updated German Expressionist film like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. On the marching band rhythm of "Viskara" (Whispering), choir vocals warn: "Hide your teeth from footsteps on the floor, he will find you never more, he will never find you more…" [note – official lyrics could not be found so these are the writer’s interpretations] The nightmarish tale continues in "Mujina/Locked in the Basement" with trippy account of "about an amputator, rumbling in the radiator". Definitely not your run of the mill lyrics here with repeated of chorus of "locked in the basement" haunting your imagination. The final chapter ends with another instrumental, "Omberg". Like a soundtrack to a ghost horror film, the closing song is full of crying horns and music box lullabies; a funeral whimper for a soul trapped in the darkness of the wintry forest.
Trilogi may come off as pretentious or less cohesive than Na Na Ni, but if you’re looking for an antithesis to today’s conformed and predictable independent music, you’ll be in for a treat.
MP3 Stream: "Mujina/Locked In the Basement"