I've been listening to Monade and Testbild! today, after a week so full of studies I haven't had time to listen to much music, it feels like. I would definitely not have said no a Monade gig with Testbild! supporting, as the musical moods they create are closely related and I have still not seen Testbild! live, despite the fact that they are based in Malmö.
Aquatint is the name of their fifth album, and also their most ambitious. The Inexplicable Feeling of September was long, but this album contains 20 tracks. A copy has been lying here in Malmö, waiting for me to get back to Sweden, perhaps ripening over the months. It is named after a reproduction technique, which you can see above, but also refers to the marine themes of the music. It is eemingly based around a novel (without author) reproduced in the booklet. Throughout the artwork, all the 'g's are printed in red, something that is explained once you read the story - I am not going to reveal too much of it here.
It is also the first record in the label Friendly Noise's new strategy scheme for releases, which you can read here. Basically a by-subscription affair, like recent albums by Louis Philippe and The Orange Peels, it's encouraging to know that enough people wanted to hear this for it to actually go to the pressing plant. It has undeniably been worth it because the album is full of haunting instrumentals and interspersed moments of pop, not completely unlike the latest Hepburns album Trojan Hearse. Matt and Petter have collaborated quite extensively and on Aquatint you will also find a cover of "My Brother the Submariner". You can hear the Hepburns original here and it is supposedly from a trio of albums they were supposed to have released in 2007!
As always the lyrics are intriguing, whether sung in close male harmonies or by female accomplice 'Jana'. My favourite title is possible "Beneath Transparent Felt" but also "Rippling Icicle". Most of the songs seem connected to the short story inside, and as always with Testbild! they have created a seamless whole, packaged in a matt digipak and even including a short film by Pontus Lindqvist.
The nautical theme perhaps also leads back to a previous release on Johan Jacobsson's label Vågor och Strömmar. A single copy a cd was put in a glass bottle and thrown into the sea outside Malmö in 2007 - still no one knows if it was found. The master recording was erased and the whole concept garnered them coverage on national radio and in several daily papers. Earlier this year a similar event, called Imagine a Balloon, took place in Malmö. Shamefully I missed it, and with it the only chance to hear the Testbild! songs included. At least some photos of the event can be scrutinised here.