Dan Söderqvist is best known as the singer in Twice a Man. He is also a prolific artist in his own right, with not one but two new albums on release. A New Victorian Age captures some of Söderqvist’s unreleased instrumental music from the 1990s, demonstrating his work for video games and dance. Murmures is an installation work that was created to accompany the art exhibition of the same name in the summer of 2023. Between them is a space, both temporal and stylistic, that illuminates Söderqvist’s creative range.
A New Victorian Age includes early versions of the material that found its way into the soundtrack used in the three-dimensional video game, Kula World. Made by a Swedish studio for the PlayStation One in 1997, the game involved navigating a ball in a puzzle maze that grew in complexity as the player progressed. Söderqvist’s sound design was more progressive and trippier than a lot of soundtracks from that time, making extensive use of the Roland TB-303. It might have said “computer controlled” on the face, but the silver box was able to respond very well to human interaction. Söderqvist married it to soaring quitars and keyboards for an electro-acoustic journey that was a whole lot hipper than Mario’s own backing music.
The Kula World sketches are collected on the album together with material originally intended for the computer game, OBAFGKM, and the dance performance, Pleiades. Fans of Ozric Tentacles and Juno Reactor will find a lot to like in this set, but it is also essential for any follower of Twice a Man.
Murmures was originally recorded for the show of the same name at the gallery, La Part du Rève, in Perpignan, France. Consisting of twelve pieces, based upon portraits of 19th-century persons, the installation was created together with the French visual artist, Tempora Flow (aka Jenny van den Arend). Intended to be played in a quiet room at low volume, the material is based upon field recordings, gathered at a variety of locations, ranging from a fountain in Salamanca, Spain, a church in Greffeil, in the south of France, the Swedish island of Öland, and other sites across Europe. Over them is read a poem in Swedish by Eric Johan Stagnelius, “The Poet.” Each of the sections is based upon a graphic piece, reflecting the appropriate theme by Tempora Flow, which can be seen online at temporaflow.eu
Murmures contains contributions from Tempora Flow, Noiz Elfje, and Maria Ericsson. The field recordings flow into each other, while Söderqvist mixes them with synthesisers and reverb. Insect musicians call to each other while bells chime and water splashes. Birds and bees combine with voices and what might be sampled strings. The results are deftly handled, and Söderqvist’s sensitivity to both natural and human sounds keeps them in balance. It is a tightrope walk, but there is serenity on the other side.