There’s something about Scandinavia. Maybe it’s their inclusive politics or their general separation from the rest of the world, but they make a certain type of music that nobody else can manage to make. The bleary Balearic beat has captured the hearts and minds of virtually everyone vaguely interested in dance music over the past five years or so.
Names like Air France, Annie and Studio have all represented the aesthetic, and naturally they all hail from the crown of the world. For whatever reason, it seems to be this particular style of music is exclusive and immovable from the north – no producer from the rest of the world has really recreated, or even taken all that much influence from it.
Of course there’s The Tough Alliance, who’ve probably become the ambassadors of Balearic beat to the warmer parts of Earth, especially with their last effort A New Chance. But this is a review for an album by the mysterious ‘CEO’ who eventually revealed himself to the world as Eric Berglund, one of the masterminds behind The Tough Alliance’s breezy splendour. It shows; White Magic follows the footsteps of the project that birthed it rigorously, but doesn’t lose any of its charm along the way.
White Magic might very well be the most cheerful record released in 2010. There’s hardly any sadness, or even any mixed emotions here, at least musically speaking; the lyrics are too obscured behind the summery mix to be discernable. The listener is instead drawn into the gorgeous, tumbling italo-disco synth of instant anthems Illuminata and Come With Me. Very rarely can a record be described as irresistible, but that’s just what White Magic is; it simply begs everyone to be swept up in its unpretentious, giddy, polychromatic glory. When the wintery folktronics of Den Blomstertid Nu Kommer starts marching under a subtle boom-boom-tap bassline, Berglund mixes in the earnest cooing of children, feasibly caught in a snowball fight, or a particularly energetic lunch break, it’s quite clear what feeling he’s trying to evoke.
And evoke it he does, for White Magic is a near perfect record in terms of accomplishing what it sets out to do. The childlike imagery falls in perfectly with the icy electro; it’s a mere 30 minutes of music, but it symbolizes perfectly the fleeting feelings of bright new joy. 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 each calendar year.
If there is anything negative to say about White Magic, it’s that the 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 is established on. It’s a string-drenched, almost folklore-sounding chorale, and brings in elements of doubt and indecision the rest of the 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.