Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Covenant 'Ritual Noise' E.P. 2006

Electronic hymns have never sounded more seductive or cooler than those on "Northern Light", COVENANT�s new masterpiece. The Swedish group serves up "pop on the rocks" with an irresistable charm based upon a combination of futurism and tradition, two seemingly contradictory elements. Covenant took over the minimalist line of electro-pop pioneers such as Kraftwerk and Human League, filtered it through the evolution of modern dance music and added full-bodied harmony and energetic beats. "We try to create a sound that is 'right here, right now' from elements of traditional pop structures and futuristic soundscapes", says Joakim Montelius, the spokesman of the band. "We make music to experience with your body, soul and mind. A kind of soundtrack to life".Throughout their career they have constantly evolved their sound, incorporating every aspect of electronic music into their unique musical universe. "Northern Light" is no exception, but "an attempt to bring out the soul of our machines". This quest has resulted in an album that speaks to everybody, not just the electro aficionados."Making music is - just like writing or film-making - basically a form of communication. We make music first and foremost for ourselves as a way of finding the heart and soul of being human. But as this search goes on and we see the reactions from our audience we find that we are not so different; we share our passions, fears and dreams with many others. The process of making music makes us complete and more open to the world we live in". Barcelona, Berlin and Helsingborg are the cities the members of COVENANT have chosen to live in. Singer and frontman Eskil Simonsson enjoys the cultural diversity of the German capital, the club scene and the vibrant energy of Berlin's musical underground. Simonsson is a self-declared music fanatic. His record player is on all the time, and when he's in Berlin he's constantly on the lookout for new electronic music. But he also likes to be able to take off to nearby Sweden to enjoy the serene beauty of the northern wilderness. Joakim Montelius moved to Barcelona "to get away from the confinement of my home town. There's a tremendous amount of creative energy down here, and so many different nationalities all contributing in their special way. You're completely surrounded by it. I like Berlin too, but I've always had a taste for the more exotic flavours. I'd rather go to Beirut for vacation than to Mallorca. And I think that the contrast between Berlin and Barcelona, tempered by our Swedish background helps building the tension necessary to create good music. Our work is - after all - the result of the push and pull of three very different personalities". Clas Nachmanson is the one that keeps up the Swedish connection. He's still based in Helsingborg, where he stubbornly keeps his job as a computer consultant. "Clas is like a catalyst", is how Montelius describes his function, "he prefers to live in the real world and he provides the input we need not to spin off uncontrollably in the studio. This is what actually brings our trinity into a wheel going forwards, instead of an introverted spiral. Eskil and I throw things into the stew; Clas tastes it and add or subtract when necessary". The three have been together since the mid-80's. When they were in school together, they were part of a series of projects interested in electronic instruments and the fun you could have with noise. "I remember when Clas came home from London with this wonderful new machine. It was a sampler, an instrument that I - at the time - had only heard rumours about. We went wild and sampled Swiss cuckoo clocks, friends trying to play the trumpet, squeaking chairs, TV commercials and toy drums. It all sounded kind of weird, but we loved it", Montelius recalls. Then the three of them moved to the university town of Lund to study chemistry, physics and the arts. They installed a small studio in Clas' bedroom and started to call themselves COVENANT.In 1993, they came out with their first album, "Dreams of a Cryotank", and "Sequencer" followed in 1996, an album that is still regarded as one of the milestone classics of the genre. Two years after that, "Europa" was released. With "United States of Mind", which appeared in 2000, the fashion-conscious suit wearers attracted more and more attention from outside of their traditional industrial and electro scene, and that was their first experiment in the world of pop music. One of the singles from this album was "Der Leiermann", a poem by 19th Century German Romantic poet Wilhelm M�ller that COVENANT put to music. "We tend to make these drastic connections between past and future, technology and history", Montelius says, "maybe as a result of our multi-disciplinary academic backgrounds". COVENANT is the result of a clash between science and the arts, which often gives rise to lengthy, heated discussions. Many of the ideas that come up in these discussions find their way into the trio's songs, which, according to Montelius, focus on two things: "The juxtaposition between the past and the future. It's so incredibly difficult to live in the present. We always end up finding our way by looking back to see what we had or looking ahead at what we want", he explains. "Loneliness is another important theme. In the end, there is only you and what you want to do with your existence. Writing songs about it is a way to handle this fundamental fact". The group's most recent album, "Northern Light", was produced by Jacob Hellner (Rammstein, Clawfinger, Fleshquartet etc.), who subtly helped the band realize their ambitious plans. This collaboration resulted in songs like the majestic opener, "Monochrome", with it�s hypnotic beat, "Bullet", an appealing hymn-like number buoyed by a powerful chorus, and "Invisible & Silent", a reflective song imbued with pensive melancholy. These are but three examples of a total of eleven musical invitations to take off for the cosmos of COVENANT, which is intense, introspective and cool all at the same time. "The new album was inspired by Eskil's adventures in Berlin, my growing impatience with small town life and dreams of leaving and - of course - our ambition to evolve as artists by trying new ways", comments Montelius, "it's introspective, reflective, somewhat melancholic, and if I can put it that way; mature. Our most soulful album so far". The "noise adventurers" have become "sound managers" whose declared goal is "to make a difference". That is an ambitious goal and one that can only be achieved by lots of hard work. "Northern Light" has never the less managed to do just that, and all you have to do is to listen to the album to realize it. The band explains the title "Northern Light" like this: "We recorded the album during the winter in Stockholm. It's a bleak, cold period with lots of snow, rain and freezing winds. The atmosphere heavy, depressing and grey. But there was a light shining in the basement were we worked on the songs - our 'Northern Light'". And it fits in a larger context too; these three inspired Scandinavians bring the Northern Light to the world.

1. Ritual Noise - (Edit)
2. Ritual Noise - (Main Version)
3. Island, The - (previously unreleased)
4. Ritual Nosie - (remix, Version 5)
5. XRDS - (previously unreleased)
6. Ritual Noise - (Terence Fixmer Remix, Terence Fixmer Remix)

No comments: