theeurocentric

Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Have You Heard of: Frida Hyvönen

In Sweden on September 13, 2009 at 2:52 pm

There must be something in the icy Scandinavian air of Sweden; over the past decade the country has produced a staggering amount of both commercially and critically successful indie artists, including Lykke Li, Jens Lekman, and Peter Bjorn & John. Well add songstress Frida Hyvönen to that list. The blonde pixie has already put out two well-regarded albums in her relatively short career, and has toured across Europe, the United States and even China. Her music is based in the confessional singer-songwriter culture of the 70s (she lists Carole King as an influence), though she adds her own distinctly European style to the mix. Debut album Until Death Comes is an intimate set of songs in which Hyvönen’s piano playing takes center stage. The sparse, atmospheric production contributes to the album’s quiet loneliness, making it the perfect soundtrack for dark winter nights. Her follow-up, Silence is Wild, expands upon Until Death Comes by heightening both the sound and the melodrama inherent in her songwriting, and adding swirling strings, synthesizers and percussion.

But don’t mistake her elegant compositions and vocals for timidity; Hyvönen writes with both a wit and raw emotion that many listeners might miss. Her mix of the fictional and realistic, combined with her surprisingly sexual frankness, create a striking dichotomy of “naughty” and “nice”. And though she hasn’t hit as big stateside as some Scandinavian contemporaries, like Iceland’s Bjork, she is infinitely more accessible. She could easily strike a chord with the Regina Spektor/A Fine Frenzy set, especially those in the mood for something a little more avant-garde.

Metropia

In Sweden on September 13, 2009 at 2:38 pm

In the tradition of animated films meant for adults (pioneered by the Japanese, and furthered by the French and Americans – see the recent 9), Swedish director, and former graffiti artist, Tarik Saleh has created a unique, dystopian vision of a future Europe. The story revolves around Stockholm-native Roger, who begins to hear strange voices in his head when he nears the subway system (which has been connected to every underground in Europe). With the continent facing depleting oil reserves, Roger then unwittingly gets caught up in a major conspiracy.

The filmmakers created the distinct look of the film by photoshopping and stylizing actual photographs before animating them. The impressive voice cast includes Swedish stars like Vincent Gallo, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgaard (of Pirates fame) and Alexander Skarsgaard (star of HBO’s “True Blood”), as well as American actress/rocker Juliette Leiws. The film was recently featured at this year’s Venice Film Festival, and is set for a November 6 release in its native Sweden. Whether or not the film, which was filmed in English, will secure a stateside theatrical release is still up in the air. Figures crossed though; we can never get enough darker, more imaginative animated films, especially when nonsensical films like Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (dinosaurs were long extinct by the time of the wooly mammoths) make over $850 million worldwide.