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Review + Q&A: SVIN- Introducing SVIN (2022, Tonzonen Records)

And now for something completely different. Take a look at the cover of this album and tell me what you think you might expect. I bet you’re wrong, as little will be able to prepare for the weird sonic palette of Introducing SVIN.

The three -mostly instrumental- Danes of SVIN take us on a trip through sci-fi cyberspace, with heavy Bladerunner synths, dark industrial drum beats, and otherworldly saxophone solos. Their robotic polyrhythmic approach distantly remind us of math metal heavyweights Meshuggah, but metal this is not, and the brooding heaviness comes more from the overall atmosphere then from any distorted guitars or screaming.

If anything at all, the use of synths and other computer generated sounds and the sheer massiveness of it reminds of the way Genghis Tron implemented it in their latest album Dream Weapon; another weirdo angle on the krautrock genre with an exciting result. Let’s call it avant garde then, or the soundtrack of our distant future dreams. Whatever we call it it doesn’t really matter. What counts is: you need this in your ears right now.

So let’s discover who these three Danes really are! Here’s the band with all the answers to our questions:

Hi SVIN! Can you introduce yourselves to the Weirdo Shrine audience?
We are SVIN, a Danish trio out of Copenhagen – Henrik, saxophone and keyboards, Lars, guitar and keyboards, Thomas, drums. We are on the threshold of releasing our seventh release, Introducing SVIN, which, as the previous albums did at their time, seeks out new sonic landscapes for us.

Before anything else, I was wondering HOW do you make your sound? It’s hard to tell from listening to the album, I do hear some traditional instruments, but there is a lot more going on, right?

The material for Introducing SVIN was basically very rough sketches, jammed out in rehearsal, to be turned upside down, jammed upon more, tried on other keyboards etc. and the entire studioproces was left open for waaaay longer, than we have done before.
Much of the sounds are based on guitar, sax, keys and drums, but there are several electronic and analogue effects added to a lot of the drums and bass-parts, which colours the album immensely – not to forget, the extensive dubbing process, involving foot stomping, slowed down cuban bata, trumpet, vocals and much more …We’ve also worked closely together with our producer Anders Bach in this process and his ideas and sounds also play a big role in the music on this album, as well as when we are playing live, where he often does the sound.

Can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
We are all three involved in several other bands and projects, all of them (more or less) having improvisation as a carrying pillar – its easy to say “jazz”, when hearing relatively improvised, instrumental music, but the blend of our individual backgrounds include a lot more – early rock, African folklore, metal, Japanese court-music and so on …

Are there any bands or musicians that you look up to? 
We have endless lists of inspirations, and many albums we keep as sacred, but the term “looking up”, suggests pedestals and attempts to copy – that might prevent growth and stand in the way of impulsive ideas. In the tourbus you could hear anything from Gagaku, Scott Walker, sing-along to Cranberries (mostly Lars and Thomas), bebop, Cypress Hill and…

How is the scene in Copenhagen/Denmark? Are there a lot of facilities and venues for bands like yourselves? 

The scene in Denmark is generally open to new movements, with venues and festivals that manage to support it – there is a lot of footwork necessary when trying to enter, but persistence in attempts, paired with evolvement in the music will earn you spots and recognition. Denmark has a massive offer of concerts, so if anything, its a symptom of a large number of acts and artists, fighting for stagetime. Beatiful.

Can you tell me about the writing and recording process of the new album Introducing SVIN? Anything you did different from before or collaborations you did?

The adding of the vocal features, is another example of how this album differs from our older. ”Introducing SVIN” is much heavier on decisions made in the studio, than our previous albums – we had that proces somewhat planned, but due to the virus, the dubbing/mixingphase was stretched, and opened for more thoughtful dialogue about the final shape of the music. prior recordings of ours have all had more finished, live-tested tunes, whereas some of these tunes consisted of a sparse riff and an idea of “maybe something stupid, electronic danceable on top?!“. We took more time in the studio to play around with various midi-solutions to blend in old first-batch drum modules, keyboard sounds, even sampling some parts. Mare Eline and BISSE was left to their own wants and needs, with very few, if any, guidelines from us, and they ended up colouring the entire album, in very personal ways.

I really like the artwork! What can you tell me about it?
We were looking for something that would compliment the somewhat electronic vibe from the music, and at the same time, could stand on its own, as a visual piece of art.
Lars knew of Ana Vujovic from artwork she had done for another band, and her very first attempt was very much in line, with what we tried to describe – futuristic, glitchy, retro and coherent from front to back.

Was it hard to find a label for your music? And how did you end up with Dirk and Tonzonen?
Yes – it took a while and we’ve been trying for years to find someone who could get us distributed and out beyond Denmark. There are pros and cons, when releasing your own music which we have done with several albums. The con definitely is that you only have so much time and often for us, the international distribution gets neglected. Actually Tonzonen came up in a Google search on psychedelic music. We checked out the label and really like what we heard and the vibe of the label.

What are your immediate future plans?
performing “Elegi”, our latest release before this – a piece, written for a classical ensemble and SVIN at Copenhagen JazzFestival. The release show for “Introducing SVIN” at Copenhagen JazzFestival. Summer holidays, family hangout and hopefully shipping records en masse. In the fall we are working on a small European tour and gigs en Denmark as well. We also already have plans of recording our next album end of year!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after this interview?
Something that would be nice, helpful or beneficial for more, than just him- or herself ❤
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