Scandinavia's transformation from hinterland into lynchpin of the modern music scene has been joyous to behold.
Throwing off expectations, accepting new influences and developing a serene new artistic voice, the Scandinavian countries have produced a slew of wonderful musicians over the past decade. Arguably a golden era for the region, it's one marked by cross-fertilisation, by co-operation and by renewed examination.
Ane Brun has sat at the heart of the process. Born in Norway, the singer's debut album 'Spending Time With Morgan' was released back in 2003, when the musical climate was very much dominated by the twin pillars of the United States and Great Britain.
Recently unveiling new career-spanning retrospective 'Songs 2003 - 2013', it's tempting to muse on the changes both within the Scandinavian music scene and the way in which it is perceived by outsiders. So that's exactly what we did.
Asking Ane Brun to pick her top Scandinavian albums of the past ten years, the Norwegian artist was only too happy to oblige...
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1 José Gonzáles - Veneer
It's the simplicity and minimalism of this music that makes it so amazing, performed with confidence and honesty. The dynamics and rhythm of the guitar playing and his understated vocals, José's way of playing and writing has become a specific sound, and will forever be his. And it started here, with Veneer. José and I released our debut albums around the same time in 2003, I even participated as one of many characters in his first video ‘Crosses’. I've enjoyed listening to him develop through the years and was fortunate to record the duet ‘Worship’ with him for my latest studio album.
2. The Knife - Deep Cuts
The Knife's perfect combo of pop and electronica. This was the soundtrack to many nights in 2003-2004 and an album that has stayed with me. It includes the amazing song ‘Heartbeats’ and the duet with Swedish amazing artist Jenny Wilson ‘You Take My Breath Away’. There is something raw and harsh in their sound combined with great melodies, and sometimes an almost passive-aggressive energy that attracts me, on this album, and also in their later music.
3. Niki and the Dove
When I was in the UK a couple of years ago promoting my latest album, the British journalists kept mentioning Niki and the Dove, and I had never hear of them, even though they were Swedish, so they had a buzz in the UK before they got it at home. And when I finally listened, I completely loved it! The brilliant vocals, great pop-songs and interesting productions makes this one of the best Swedish albums I've heard in the last few years.
4. Biosphere - Dropsonde
I've listened to the Norwegian artist/producer Biosphere's music since the 90's. He's a pioneer in ambient-electronic music, and the album Dropsonde was released in 2006. It has a warm and jazzy feeling within an ambient soundscape, and its' atmospheric sounds and beats has a positively hypnotic effect on me. I'm proud that Biosphere made a great remix of my song ‘Temporary Dive’ back in 2005.
5. Loney Dear - Hall Music
Emil Svanängen is the man behind the name Loney Dear, and he has made beautiful alternative pop music for years. I think his latest album from 2011 is a masterpiece with its' perfect pop-melodies and warm, tasteful arrangements. He has one of those voices that can produce goose bumps with his whole-hearted performances.
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'Songs 2003 - 2013' is out now.
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