Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Us and Them - On Shipless Ocean


Second LP from Swedish acid-folk duo! Gentle electronica, glacial vocals and Robert Kirby-esque strings!

Us and Them are Britt Rönnholm and Anders Håkanson, a musical duo from Sweden who make beautiful, soft and fragile acid-tinged folk. We've featured their music several times before on HD, most recently when they released 'When I Was Walking', a limited edition 7” single on Mega Dodo Records early last year. Their music is perfect for quiet reflection and seems fitting that as we approach the high summer solstice and the turning of the year's tide they're back with a full-length LP also released by the increasingly reliable Mega Dodo label. On Shipless Ocean is Us and Them's strongest and most confident release to date.

The pair's primary influences are never far from the surface – musically there's Sandy Denny and Vashti Bunyan, subject and theme-wise there's Northern Europe's natural world of climate, weather and the elements. Listen deeper however and there's more to heard - Echoes of Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks theme in album opener 'The Trees and the Sky Above', and a gentle smattering of ghostly electronica throughout. For all the ethereal beauty there's also a constant worldliness best evidenced on 'A New Life' which offers dignified lyrical stock-take of everyday emotions.

Us and Them's previous releases have contained cover versions, most notably the 10” tribute to Sandy Denny which came out of Fruits de Mer a few years back. On Shipless Ocean is more centred on original tracks but does contain one cover, an expansive ten minute version on Kevin Ayers' 'Lady Rachel' where the muted electronica meets exquisite finger-picked guitar. Other highlights include 'Changes and Choices' where the albums instrumental palette expands with various shades of woodwind, and 'Tail', a nine-minute opus complete with Robert Kirby-esque strings.

Fans of any of the artists mentioned will find in Us and Them new torchbearers for the sort of acid-tinged folk that gets more resonant with each passing year. For a sound that supposedly only shone briefly in the late sixties/early seventies it's proved its resilience and Us and Them make fine modern-day custodians.

Vinyl lovers will surely want to get hold of the 180-gram aqua marine coloured version, limited to 300 copies only.

Click here for more on Us and Them.
Click here for Us and Them on Facebook.
Click here for Mega Dodo Records.