Just Like Eddie: Page Return with the Spirit of ’78

by coldwarnightlife
Page - En ny vag

Page (Photo: Jonas Karlsson)

When Gary Numan first encountered a synthesiser, it changed the way he made music. It was the same for Eddie Bengtsson, who traded in his new drum kit for two synthesisers after he heard Silicon Teens singles that had been imported to his native Sweden. The concept of four teens making covers of rock classics using only synthesisers inspired Bengtsson to start his own band, – giving one of the synthesisers to his girlfriend, Marina Schiptjenko, and inviting another friend to join the proceedings.

What Bengtsson didn’t know was that there was only one member of Silicon Teens – the same man who had given the world “TVOD/Warm Leatherette” as The Normal. When he wrote to the Teens, in care of Mute Records, to share his admiration, Daniel Miller came clean and explained that Daryl, Jacki, Paul, and Diane were all him. Never mind – Sweden could have its own version in Page. Live shows and original songs followed, giving a Scandi twist to the sounds of Synth Britannia. Page became the house band of the local synth scene, creating world-class poptronica from their Baltic Sea base.

Page by Simon Helm

Page (Photo: Simon Helm)

Fast forward four decades, and Page are still carrying the torch for the sounds of 1978-1980. Over the years, Bengtsson’s compositions have acquired the distilled spirit of Ultravox! and Gary Numan; increasingly, channelling the feeling of those transitional days when post-punk was becoming something electronic. It is that moment that is captured across En ny våg [EN: A New Wave] – a feeling reinforced by the presence on the album of Chris Payne and Rrussell Bell. Two of the legends who helped to lead the transition from punk rock to poptronica, Payne and Bell have worked together previously as part of Gary Numan’s touring band and Dramatis. On the evidence of the material contributed here, the respect shown by Bengtsson and Schiptjenko for their British peers appears to be mutual.

The title track features Payne’s violin, which gives a minor key frisson to a classic slice of bouncy Page pop. The depth of Bengtsson’s well of melodies has never been plumbed, but his ability to draw dynamic and emotional lines is unmatched. “En ny våg” is laden with tension, mysterious beauty, and a presence that most electronic bands would struggle to reach in a lifetime of work.

The point is made dramatically with tracks like “Förloraren” [EN: “The Loser”], which tap into the ability of Bengtsson’s Moogs to resonate with both force and sensitivity. It comes up again on “Stopp-Vänta-Nu” [EN: “Stop-Wait-Now”], in which powerful strings and a growling funk bass signal the strength of the electricity fizzing through his instrumentation. It’s the kind of material that keeps crowds enthralled at Page’s live shows.

“Vi kommer tillbacka” [EN: “We Are Coming Back”] was our Single of the Year for 2022. As we wrote in our year-end review:

When John Foxx left Ultravox!, they lost more than their punctuation mark. Foxx’s presence gave the band bite. Midge Ure made excellent, soaring pop but left no teeth marks–well, apart from the time he kicked Warren Cann out of the band he had founded. Musically, at least, there is something to be said for having an edge.

Page could have reissued Glad and been happy with the enthusiastic response, but Eddie Bengtsson has some of that 1970s UV spirit in him. “Vi kommer tillbaka” [EN: “We Are Coming Back”] arrived as a single just as the year was running out, easily outpacing the competition with a slice of golden poptronica.

In “Det här är mitt sätt” [EN: ”This Is My Way”] there is something of the throbbing passion of Magazine and Pete Shelley. The song is also a statement, which captures Bengtsson’s determination to maintain his true path. “It can go wrong / It can go right / This is always – my way.”

Dramatis, from back in the day

“Korridoren” [EN: “The Corridor”] is the closest that Page have come to Kraftwerk, with the echo of “Hall of Mirrors” and the longing of OMD’s “Distance Fades Between Us” fusing to trigger the sympathetic nervous system. Fight, flight, or dance? None of them emerge with clarity, but each has a place.

“Frusen” [EN: “Frozen”] finds Rrussell Bell’s guitar completing Page’s phrases with intensity. Page have, from time to time, played with guitar sounds, but usually by exploiting the Moog’s filters. The Dramatis man lifts the dynamics of Bengtsson’s rhythms in a fierce, celebratory way. And this is rather the point of the album: after punk had burned itself into a parody of pub rock, young musicians needed new ways to express their alienation and raw energy. The synthesiser provided that opening, and the sounds of guitars were adapted to fit with them. Page and their guests are out of their teens, but they are still young lions. The flow of electricity doesn’t stop until they do.

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