There’s something about Scandinavia. Maybe it’s their inclusivepolitics or their general separation from the rest of the world, butthey make a certain type of music that nobody else can manage to make.The bleary Balearic beat has captured the hearts and minds ofvirtually everyone vaguely interested in dance music over the pastfive years or so.
Names like Air France, Annie andStudio have all represented the aesthetic, andnaturally they all hail from the crown of the world. For whateverreason, it seems to be this particular style of music is exclusive andimmovable from the north – no producer from the rest of the world hasreally recreated, or even taken all that much influence from it.
Of course there’s The Tough Alliance, who’ve probably becomethe ambassadors of Balearic beat to the warmer parts of Earth,especially with their last effort A New Chance. But this is a reviewfor an album by the mysterious ‘ceo’ who eventually revealed himselfto the world as Eric Berglund, one of the masterminds behind The ToughAlliance’s breezy splendour. It shows; White Magic follows thefootsteps of the project that birthed it rigorously, but doesn’t loseany of its charm along the way.
White Magic might very well be the most cheerful record released in2010. There’s hardly any sadness, or even any mixed emotions here, atleast musically speaking; the lyrics are too obscured behind thesummery mix to be discernable. The listener is instead drawn into thegorgeous, tumbling italo-disco synth of instant anthems Illuminata andCome With Me. Very rarely can a record be described as irresistible,but that’s just what White Magic is; it simply begs everyone to beswept up in its unpretentious, giddy, polychromatic glory. When thewintery folktronics of Den Blomstertid Nu Kommer starts marchingunder a subtle boom-boom-tap bassline, Berglund mixes in the earnestcooing of children, feasibly caught in a snowball fight, or aparticularly energetic lunch break, it’s quite clear what feelinghe’s trying to evoke.
And evoke it he does, for White Magic is a near perfect record in termsof accomplishing what it sets out to do. The childlike imagery fallsin perfectly with the icy electro; it’s a mere 30 minutes ofmusic, but it symbolizes perfectly the fleeting feelings of bright newjoy. It’s a lot like the Fang Island record that came out nearthe beginning of the year; short, sweet and wonderful, finding itscharm in the moments of life grown-ups wish they had appreciated more,it reacquaints us with the world we continuously leave behind eachcalendar year.
If there is anything negative to say about White Magic, it’s thatthe centrepiece Oh God, Oh Dear, while beautiful in its own right,doesn’t quite fit in the ebb and flow the rest of the record isestablished on. It’s a string-drenched, almost folklore-soundingchorale, and brings in elements of doubt and indecision the rest ofthe album avoids so perfectly. But that’s a minor complaint at best -White Magic is a gift, a solace, something to rest our heads on whenthe world gets too scary, because our simplest memories will always bethere to soothe us. ceo understands that, and so should you.