Filip Lindström, The Mental Masochist

Thoughts on Pattern Abuse's »Nordic Ambient«

Profet's Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström inspects Danish label Pattern Abuse's new compilation »Nordic Ambient«, and the wonderfully depressing nature of Scandivian culture. In the end, darkness helps out a certain need to hurt oneself.

Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström (right)

When Pattern Abuse’s label director Liquido contacted me about the new release of various ambient compositions, »Nordic Ambient«, we fell into a discussion about the melancholy of certain Scandinavian music, and other art for all it’s worth. In my interview with Liquido (»We Are All Ghosts«, released June 16 2018) I described how my taste in electronic music leans toward the frightening, and I resembled Liquido’s own tunes to being threatened with a sharp knife.
        Several of the tracks on »Nordic Ambient« are as disturbing as I want electronic music to be, uncanny in its essence and sometimes slippery to the touch. Liquido states that his curation of the record was based on exploring the general opinion of the difference between what is music and what is simply a »sequence of sounds«. The 11 songs on the album circle this exact question, with their range from beyond one factor to far on the other side of the other.

Of course this collection of Scandinavian music awoke thoughts within me, of the reason behind the potential for gloom in these parts of the world. In our e-mail conversation on the subject, Liquido wrote the following as a comparison between Scandinavia and other corners of the globe:
        »Cuba knows how to make happy music to dance to. But we, apparently just have an instinct for depressing, angry, scary, sinister music. And culture in general. Norway invented Black Metal. Lars von Trier on the film side. Fucking Sigur Rös up in Iceland. Where do all these dark feelings come from? The dark winters? The cold? Tradition? All of the above? I mean, the goodnight song I sang to my daughter this evening is basically about death. What the fuck?«
        Certainly, my foolish Swedish pride was partially injured by Liquido’s negligence to mention any of our creators of unsettling art. I mean, how can you forget the likes of the great Freddie Wadling, The Knife, synth duo Kite, writer Lars Norén (who even got a specific kind of dysfunctional family gathering named after him, the »Norén-Christmas«) or Ester Eriksson with her bleak, self-reflecting rendition of Disney’s Goofy? I decide to ignore the neglect of the darkness in some aspects of Swedish culture, and blame it on the ongoing rivalry between the Scandi nations (caused by centuries of war and tedious bickering, probably fired up again since Stockholm named itself »The Capital of Scandinavia« a few years back).


The point is this shared closeness to the dark, seen in all the Nordic countries. I can’t bring myself to a simple generalization of all inhabitants of these regions and their state of mind, because there are absolutely obvious examples of opposite cultural mindsets, like the dreadfully cheery Dance Band genre that has tormented Scandinavia for decades. Yet, there is always the blackened counterpart, in which I can quench my thirst for discouraging music, film, theatre and art.
        The solemn despair is very well captured in »Nordic Ambient«. As I wrote Liquido about the compilation’s opening track, made by wonder child Boding, who is bound to release more material on Pattern Abuse during the year, »Boding's track is really eerie, definitely sends a delicious shiver down what's left of my spine«. On Liquido’s own contribution to the record, I wrote »Yours is like a nightmare, in the most positive meaning I could ever give it.« Don’t you think nightmares are always easier to remember than plain old pleasant dreams, once you’ve woken up? I, for one, do – and I can surely endure the pain they cause in the sleeping moment for the pleasure of looking back at them.

Wonder child Boding

In the consumption of dreams, and electronic music, I am a no-good masochist – dismal and loving it. I thank any possible god for Pattern Abuse, for aiding me in my pop cultural attempts to mentally injure myself.

»Nordic Ambient« was released on Friday January 11, and its release party is held in H15 in Copenhagen on Thursday January 17, where several of the featured artists will be performing.

January 15 2019