For the final track, I took inspiration from something timeless: migration over the seas. Initially drawing inspiration from Wilhem Moberg’s The Emigrants series (just as “Dösjö”), it ended up as a reflection of how little has changed, and how people still are prepared to leave everything in the hope for a better life, and how rising sea levels only will make it more and more common. It tells the story of a couple, fleeing their life as they know it, in a small boat across the big oceans. Having come across the creatures and characters from the previous tracks (the Havsrå and the lighthouse, for example), they are now approaching glimpsing land, and struggle to keep rowing towards it as the storm from the previous track appears and come closer...
Whereas the first song of the album is the calm before the storm, this twin song is the storm at its peak. I have used the phrase the sea takes what it wants when occasionally translating the lyrics for an English speaking audience, and I think that perfectly describes the feeling I’m after in this song, and how insignificant the wishes of men are compared to the ocean’s.
The choir returns and is once again recorded using the voices of Jakob Lindhagen, Petter Lindhagen (who makes music as Tired Tape Machine) and Henrik Öhberg (a.k.a. Tvärvägen). Running the choir recordings through a Roland Chorus Echo with a very wet signal gave it the perfect ghostly touch I was going for. I think that having the male choir on the album truly added another dimension —both as a wonderfully sonorous but unexpected thing, as well as tying together the concept with sailors lost at sea.
This song is a mirrored version of Drivved, telling the same story but from the perspective of the Havsrå, calling the sailors to follow her into the water. The male choir at the end symbolizes the men that have followed her in the past, and are now singing from the other side.
This is the song on the album where I most struggled with getting the arrangement right, as I needed it to have the balance of being both somehow sweet and innocent-sounding but with a very dark undertone. With the drone from a harmonium, the floor tom, distant accordion and zither I got it right in the end. These ideas were actually my co-producer Jakob Lindhagen’s, and although I was fairly sceptical towards all of them initially, I’m glad I was convinced to try them out.
Dösjö is and old Swedish word I came across with while reading Wilhelm Moberg’s book series The Emigrants. Literally, it translates to “Dead Sea” and is poetically described as “remains of old storms that haven’t found peace”. I have used the actual shipping forecast throughout the song, a sound that instantly takes me back to childhood memories of being out at sea. Putting it in this context makes it much less nostalgic and much more ominous, though.
Fyr translate to “Lighthouse”, and is told from the perspective of one. The repeated sound throughout the song is supposed to remind of old morse code and ongoing light signals, as the song tells the story of how the lighthouse has seen several ships and sailors pass by through time, guiding some of them right but also being the last one witnessing others that have later disappeared. Although it has seen many ships sink, it still calls out the light signals in the hope of calling the lost souls home.
Drivved was the first song that I wrote for this album, and it has been with me for a long time. I’ve been inspired by a creature in Swedish mythology called the “Havsrå”, a guardian of the ocean who appears as a beautiful woman near the shore, luring men into the water to drown them. The song tells the story from the perspective of a young boy, who can’t resist but to follow her although warned by fathers in generation of the dangerous, seducing power of this creature (I also kind of enjoy the flipped gender perspective, that instead of mothers warning their daughters it’s the fathers warning their sons not to talk to strangers). As foretold, the young sailor is drowned by the Havsrå, and his body ends up floating like driftwood (“drivved”) out on the ocean.
As a way of letting everyone interested a bit closer into this record, I will publish small stories about the songs —the inspiration, ideas and stories behind them— during the following weeks. I’ll post them in chronological order, starting with the first track: Stormen Kommer I.
Its title translates to The storm is coming and has two versions. This one, the opening of the album, is to be seen as the calm before the storm, when you can kind of sense the tension in the air and know that something is about to change. The bowed glockenspiel that is used in the recording is symbolising distant lights from boats and lighthouses. The sound of the wind that goes throughout the song is something I would have loved to have been recorded on a remote island in Swedish archipelago on a windy Autumn evening, and that’s how I also somehow imagine it. Truth is, it is just me blowing into an SM57 in my living room in suburban Stockholm. I prefer the romanticized version.