Henrik Larsson may be the most famous export from the small town of Helsingborg in Sweden but Eskil Simonsson, Joakim Montelius and Clas Nachmanson – aka Covenant – are not far behind in the number of smiles on faces they’ve deposited over the years.
Perversely, these mainstays of the electronic music scene have achieved this through a brand of music that is anything but happy. And in fact, when they do try to show a little love the results are close to dire, as exemplified by Happy Man’s klunky high-pitched bleeps and squelches that sound like they emanate from a kid’s electronic toy.
Mercifully that is the exception rather than the rule, and Skyshaper is the latest in a line of accomplished, dark yet eminently danceable opuses produced by this trio of sharply-suited Scandinavians.
Covenant’s edge is the way in which they pacify the harsh, inhuman nature of industrial music with liberal dashings of melody and groove. Ritual Noise, Sweet & Salty and 20 Hz may bang their robotic rhythms loudly and extravagantly but they boast tunes that anyone from Depeche Mode to early New Order might dare to incorporate.
Elsewhere, Pulse references Kraftwerk in its funky, robotic synths and Gary Numan in its lyrics (“I’m falling out of cars”), while the likes of Greater Than The Sun and The World Is Growing Loud are more reflective and, dare I say it, ambient pieces.
It’s fair to say that Skyshaper is not particularly groundbreaking, risk-taking or stomach-shaking. However, if it’s a solid piece of electronica with brains and a hard edge that you’re after, then this is your band and Skyshaper is as good a place as any to start. Henrik Larsson may retire soon, but on this evidence there’s no reason why Messrs Simonsson, Montelius and Nachmanson should.