Amateur Hour

(Copyright © 2022 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Makthaverskan: Makthaverskan (2009), 5/10
Makthaverskan: Makthaverskan II (2013), 6/10
Makthaverskan: Makthaverskan III (2017), 5/10
Makthaverskan: For Allting (2021), 5/10
Westkust: Last Forever (2015), 5.5/10
Westkust: Westkust (2019), 4.5/10
Neutral: Gra Vag Gamlestaden (2014), 4/10
Neutral: Neutral (2016), 4/10
Neutral: Nar (2017), 4/10
Enhet For Fri Musik: Inom Dig Inom Mig (2015), 5/10
Enhet For Fri Musik: Improvisationer Och Bandmusik for Vilt Dansande Sjalar (2015), 6.5/10
Enhet For Fri Musik: Det Finns Ett Hjarta Som for Dig (2017), 6/10
Enhet For Fri Musik: Omhet & Skilsmassa (2021), 4/10
Amateur Hour: Amateur Hour (2016), 6.5/10
Amateur Hour: Framtiden Tillhor Inte Oss (2019), 6.5/10
Amateur Hour: Krokta Tankar Och Branda Vanor (2022), 7/10

Amateur Hour was the culmination of the careers of three influential Swedish musicians.

Dan Johansson started out as the guitarist of Marionet, a band that released several singles during 1984-90 and then changed name to Cloud Catchers and released the double-disc Itch (1995). He then joined the stoner-rock quartet Generous Maria, fronted by vocalist Goran Florstrom, for the albums Command Of The New Rock (2001), Electricism (2006) and, after a long hiatus, III (2013). At the same time Johansoon started his career as a noisescape sculptor under the moniker Sewer Election, producing cassettes since 2002 at the rate of three per year (for example, Neuroleptika Freakout, 2002; Torpa Freak-In, 2004; Shared Bodies, 2005; Kassettmusik, 2008; White Chamber Black Death, 2008). Dog Holocaust was the duo of Johansson and Nolan Throop, devoted to noise on three cassettes of 2005-7, later collected on Volume I, II, III (2008). It was the beginning of an endless series of side-projects and collaborations. In 2006 Johansson formed the long-distance trio Edwige with Sam McKinlay and Keith Brewer, documented on albums of power-electronics like The Inconsolable Widow Thanks All Those Who Consoled Her (2005), Edwige (2008) and Virgin Capricorn (2013). Johansson also formed the trio Attestupa with Jesper Canell and Viktor Ottosson: they released Attestupa (2008), Begraven Mot Norr (2010), Musik for Tomma Rum (2013) and Vattnet Drog Sig Tillbaka Stenarna Blev Synliga (2015). Negative was a duo with Christoffer Johansson, documented on Electronic Meditation (2011). Document One released Document One (2011). Enklav, a duo with Viktor Ottosson, is documented on 1 (2012) and 2 (2014). Hypnosis, a duo with Joachim Nordwall, released Moon Of Death And Other Recent Works (2014). Heinz Hopf, a duo with Matthias Andersson, started releasing cassettes of electronic noise in 2010.

That Matthias Andersson was a sound artist who started releasing cassettes in 2009, and formed Kallarbarnen with Sofie Herner, documented on the cassette Kallarbarnen (2009).

Meanwhile, Makthaverskan, a punk-pop combo nostalgic of the 1980s, fronted by vocalist Maja Milner (who often sounds like Siouxsie Sioux) and featuring guitarist Hugo Randulv, released Makthaverskan (2009) and Makthaverskan II (2013), with Asleep. Later, Hugo Randulv launched the project Svart Puls (2015).

Meanwhile, Julia Bjernelind was the vocalist of noise-rocker Mother Of The Forest, who released the single We Met At A Rave (2011) and the album Erik Grow Up This Means War (2012). She then co-founded the shoegaze-pop combo Westkust with Brian Cukrowski (guitar), Philip Soderlind (drums) and Rikard Hjort (bass). Hugo Randulv and Gustav Andersson of Makthaverskan joined for their debut album, Last Forever (2015), that contains Swirl.

Johansson was continuing to release cassettes as Sewer Election, notably the two suites of Vittra Sonder (2012), Att Falla (16:21) and Bilder Av Dig (15:22). Neutral, the duo of Dan Johansson and Sofie Herner, released Gra Vag Gamlestaden (2014), an album of harsh musique concrete, Neutral (2016), an album of less extreme noise, and the more electronic Nar (2017), an eight-song mini-album that includes Du, a sort of remix of Chris Knox’s Not Given Lightly, but mostly noise collages.

Johansson and Randulv got together to form the combo Enhet For Fri Musik with Gustaf Dicksson, Herner and Andersson. They released the 28-minute mini-album Lat Oss Vada Genom All Angslan Tillsammans (2014), Inom Dig Inom Mig (2015), which mainly consists of the 19-minute extremely lethargic guitar swoon of Det Ordnar Sig Ska Du Se, and Improvisationer Och Bandmusik for Vilt Dansande Sjalar (2015), a slightly more cohesive combination of freak-folk music, free jazz and musique concrete.

Dan Johansson, Hugo Randulv and Julia Bjernelind finally formed the drum-less trio Amateur Hour. Amateur Hour (Forlag For Fri Musik, 2016) ranges from free-form musique concrete to the seven-minute ear-splitting agony of Down via the whining freak-folk of Bye Bye, the spaced-out trance of Get Fucked, and the atonal lullaby Paradise Lost. When they focus on the song format, they sound like Azalia Snail fronting Dead C produced by Edgar Varese.

They didn't abandon they many "side-projects" though. Makthaverskan returned with Makthaverskan III (2017) and For Allting (2021), veering towards dream-pop but still nostalgic about the age of Cure and Smiths. Hugo Randulv also formed the trio Skiftande Enheter that released several singles in 2017-18 and then the mini-albums Snubblar Genom Drommar (2019) and Skiftande Enheter (2019) and the four-song EP Öppna Landskap (2022). Enhet For Fri Musik returned with Det Finns Ett Hjarta Som for Dig (2017), a collage of 14 fragments (some unusually structured and melodic), and Omhet & Skilsmassa (2021), a collection of 18 brief abstract experiments. Heinz Hopf, now a trio with Erik Nystrand, returned with Kallt Kaffe (2018). Sewer Election kept flooding the underground with improvised noise such as the 35-minute piece of Wreck (2016), the six-disc Blizzard Amplification (2020), the multi-movement Antarktis (2021), the 22-minute Mono Carve, off Horse Utopie (2022), and the double-disc Blizzard Amplification (2022).

Amateur Hour's second album, Framtiden Tillhor Inte Oss (Happiest Place, 2019) settled for a more tolerable form of noise-rock besides being still littered with claustrophobic electronic nightmares like Mother. The trio now specializes in simpler songs like the timid noise-folk litany I'm Yours and the romantic and naive I Dream of You (and a cover of Television Personalities' The Girl Who Had Everything). Bjernelind is now the center of mass. She has a chance to intone the torch-ballad Waiting Here For You and even sounds like Grace Slick in Jenny's Place.

Pared down to a quartet with Julia Bjernelind on second guitar, Westkust released their second album, Westkust (2019), that contains Cotton Skies. Julia Bjernelind and Hugo Randulv also formed Typical Girls with Felix Skorvald. They debuted with the three-song EP Typical Girls (2020) and the single Miata/ Nice Boys (2021).

Another Johansson brainchild, Cortex A9, released Basic Housekeeping (2019). His alter-egos and side-projects and collaborations continued to multiply. Johansson formed the duo Oroskallan with Gustaf Dicksson and released Oroskallans Musikaliska Resa I Tro Missmod Och Fantasi (2019) and Tva - Ett Barn Glommer Ingenting (2020). He also formed the trio Organ Of Corti with Joachim Nordwall and Mattias Gustafsson, documented on Auris (2022). Klara Livet, a duo with Astrid Øster Mortensen, released Varandra (2022).

Gustaf Dicksson recorded Inventions for Saxophone, Recorder and Acoustic Guitar (2020).

Hugo Randulv released his first solo album: the synth-heavy Radio Arktis - Samlade Ljud Från Den Norra Polcirkeln (2021).

Amateur Hour's third album, Krokta Tankar Och Branda Vanor (Appetite, 2022), still drum-less, sound collages Bortom Oss but the instrumental intermezzos are not just noise, in fact Utan Andetag sounds like the remix of a jazz piece and Branda Tankar is a fiery guitar rave-up spaced-out lullabies buried in guitar distortions and sound effects Stanna Hos Mig and Radio Is Silent catchy Baby You're All I Want wordless chant Buried Alive guitarwork Feel My Loneliness The 15-minute psychedelic trip But If Teenage Is Forever You Will Look For Something Better is mostly taken over by a devastating guitar and synth jam capped by five final minutes of nursery-rhyme lulling spirit.

(Copyright © 2022 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )