Atlantis

Loney dear

Released 11 November 2022

  1. There Are Several Alberts Here (Atlantis)
  2. Violent (Atlantis)
  3. Hulls (Atlantis) feat. Helen Sjöholm
  4. Last Night (Atlantis)
  5. Habibi (Atlantis)
  6. Maria Is That You? (Atlantis)
  7. Oppenheimer (Atlantis)
  8. Darling (Atlantis)
  9. Interval Repeat War (Atlantis)

Liner notes

Loney dear, the vehicle by which songwriter and musician Emil Svanängen delivers his mini symphonies of off-kilter pop music to the world, has always been a intriguing mix of contradictions. Solo artist with a band name, multi-instrumentalist ‘marinated’ in jazz music who uses increasingly minimalist, electronic soundscapes to frame his songs, precise exponent of studio-craft and seat-of-the-pants live performer, gregarious and friendly Emil, yet reticent front man, hiding in low light. Nothing is ever quite what it seems with Loney dear.

And nothing is quite what it seems with Atlantis, the first-ever live release by Loney dear available, digitally, on Real World Records on 11 November 2022.

Recorded at one of Stockholm’s last great studios, from a golden-era of record making, Atlantis Studios inspired not only the name of the album, but provides the backdrop for what is unquestionably a live album, but one with a difference. This was April 2021 after all and global events are intervening.

“We were only allowed to have eight people in the audience,” remembers Svanängen, “which happened that morning. The day before we could have had 50…” And it wasn’t just the audience missing in action. “It was a big crisis and I was super stressed about it, but it was a classic ‘show must go on’ situation. We didn’t even have the same people in the rehearsal who played the show. Emanuel (Lundgren – co-producer) was supposed to be part of it, but couldn’t be there as his kid arrived early and it wouldn’t have been a wise choice for him to be around people at that point. Someone else was sick and one of the most important players in the performance was only given the okay one hour before we started recording. Per Texas (clarinet) even got a puncture going to test Mattias (Ståhl), the vibraphone player!”

In the making of Atlantis one of the main ideas was just to collect good songs from the past that haven’t really been able to shine. Emil Svanängen

Despite the practical obstacles, what Atlantis captures – the concert was also filmed for broadcast on Swedish TV – is a rather remarkable testimony to the power of Svanängen’s song-writing and the skill of the band members who add depth and dimension to the compositions. To listen to Atlantis is to experience, unmistakably, the freedom in live performance that Svanängen clearly revels in, “I have always enjoyed the fact that a song is any version of that song. The fact that it doesn’t have to be the definitive version makes it more enjoyable. In fact, it’s a bit of a relief because you can make your best album every night, combining things from all your albums and in the making of Atlantis one of the main ideas was just to collect good songs from the past that haven’t really been able to shine.”

The song choices are largely culled from Loney dear’s last two studio records, A Lantern and a Bell and Loney dear, but older songs such as Largo and Maria Is That You? (from Hall Music) and Violent (from Dear John) also feature, given renewed energy by the ensemble of Per Texas Johansson (clarinet), Mattias Ståhl (vibraphone), Johan Lindström (pedal steel), Johan Graden (piano), Josef Kallerdahl (bass) and Konrad Agnas (drums).

Credits

Recorded at Atlantis Studios, Stockholm
Produced by Emil Svanängen and Emanuel Lundgren

Performed by:
Per Texas Johansson (clarinet)
Mattias Ståhl (vibraphone)
Johan Lindström (pedal steel)
Johan Graden (piano)
Josef Kallerdahl (bass)
Konrad Agnas (drums)

Special Guest:
Helen Sjöholm

For co-producer Lundgren, there’s something else revealed by these recordings, too, that plays to the contradictions at the heart of Loney dear. “There’s a big difference from being at home, recording albums in an almost bedroom-studio environment, to playing live which has always been a very social and a very improvised environment. Very wild in comparison. It’s interesting to hear that side of Emil, that has not been documented before.”

Perhaps, surprisingly, despite lack of rehearsal and the surrounding drama of the recording there’s also a comfort that comes from embracing the unknown with players of such skill, especially those more usually found in the improvisational world of jazz. “They really appreciate when it’s not going the way it’s intended to,” laughs Savanängen “and that’s probably why I enjoy playing with them so much because it’s always a good thing if something unexpected happens. I feel calm playing with people like that. Atlantis is the way things sound when these players play a song for the first time, without a safety net!”

Already a fan, Svanängen also asked Helen Sjöholm to perform with them having, at the time, recently seen her in concert, “I had met Helen once and I told her I was a fan, and she loved the song Hulls and I was very flattered and honoured by that.” The result is a stand-out musical moment in the concert, but a revelatory one too for Svanängen as unexpected layers in his own writing were revealed hearing Sjöholm, “The lyrics of this song Hulls became so obvious for me when it was a woman singing them. I realized how violent the lyrics were but it was shocking for me to think about it. It’s the control, the abusive situation, that stood out. The violence is obvious or the threat of violence, but the controlling part really made my blood freeze in a way. I was surprised to discover that part of the song.”

The connection forged between Svanängen and Sjöholm rings true for Atlantis as a whole, “These organic situations where there’s some kind of mutual admiration or appreciation or when it’s only about creating music or art I think are so much fun,” concludes Svanängen. Lundgren agrees, “as I wasn’t there I can just listen to the music. It’s beautiful. It makes me happy.”

Although initially conceived as a means to celebrate the release of Loney dear’s eighth album ‘A Lantern and a Bell’, the performance captured by Atlantis does much more. It’s become of story of triumph over adversity, musical abandon over constraint and joy over uncertainty, and nothing was going to stop it, “Atlantis is the fictional island mentioned in an allegory in the hubris of nations, this according to Plato the philosopher. It sank into the ocean. We’d planned for months to do a session and we had no intentions of sinking those plans.”

FURTHER LISTENING

  • A Lantern and a Bell

    Loney dear

    Released 26 March 2021

    Sea birds, distorted noise, and then the line “Mighty ships hung over ground” — the marine theme not only begins but makes its mark throughout the entirety of A Lantern and a Bell. The soundscape, with Emil Svanängen's unmistakable falsetto at the very front of the mix, is extremely stripped down. A compliant piano, a discreet double bass, occasional chords, and diffused water sounds, at dark low frequencies, pulsating from unknown depths.
  • Loney dear

    Loney dear

    Released 27 September 2017

    On his seventh album and first for Real World, Loney dear's Emil Svanängen has undergone something of a rebirth, and a profound artistic awakening. He sees this collection of songs as the beginning of something very new and very potent.

Further reading

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