Liner Notes 12: Prins Emanuel

We’re very pleased to introduce another eccentric Swedish music head in the Red Light Radio x Sonos Liner Notes series. Emanuel Sundin, better known as Prins Emanuel, has been immersed in music since he was a teenager. Today, the busy bee runs multiple projects, offering a very fine selection of Scandinavian specialties and much more oddities in his Wildlife webshop, running his Wildlife Radio and Fasaan imprint. On top of this all, he has recently released his debut album “Arbete / Fritid” through the Danish Music For Dreams.
Browsing through the records that Wildlife has on offer, it becomes obvious that a mix by the co-founder can only be exciting. Musically, but also contextually. We were eager to research his DJ-set at Phuong-Dan’s Liner Notes Listening Session in Hamburg, so we’re happy we recorded it. Most records Emanuel selected have a folky melancholic core, accompanied with far-out lyrical vocals. Moreover, recorded in Sweden or not, almost all records in this mix have a Swedish background. “For some reason, the Swedish prog-scene has played a major role in my musical excursions”, Emanuel concludes.  
Although Emanuel digs deep, obscurities are not a must for him. Next to his Swedish selection, he selects two monumental cult-tracks, by Ryo Kawasaki and Ryuchi Sakamoto featuring David Sylvian for his mix. “I think its very important to take distance from the ‘obscurity fetish’. Of course, music that’s been secluded is interesting, for various reasons. But today there’s an almost absurd element in the hunt for rare music. Songs can be obscure for one individual, but regular music for another. I find these two tracks very interesting. Kawasaki’s track represents the extremely curious elements of the Japanese electronic scene of the eighties, whereas Sakamoto and Sylvian’s classic song sounds so modern in a way, contemporary, a contradistinction I always find interesting when looking for music.”

  • Track 1JordenArchimedes Badkar

    Emanuel starts his mix with a wonderful group from his home country. Archimedes Badkar was a Swedish instrumental collective, associated with the Swedish prog-scene, touching folk, prog rock, afro, Balkan and raga in their music. “The group really stood out to me, because they aren’t lyrics-driven, so there are no political messages incorporated in their music, which is exceptional in that particular music scene. It was also one of the first groups that would add a (pretty non-specific) ‘world-music’ dimension to their music. A lot of their tracks have an ambient and almost synthesized feel to them, even though everything is acoustic”, Emanuel comments. “You can also hear Mr. Per Tjernberg (also known as Per Cussion) playing the basis in most of their often improvised compositions, with his wide range of percussive instruments. Per is unique in that sense, because he was the one and only musician who introduced funk, rap and especially West African rhythms to the Swedish alternative music scene, being a key player in pushing the musical frontiers even further. This record is very dear to me. I picked it up at my fathers house as a teenager.” 

  • Track 2Igatsus Apelsin

    “Apelsin could absolutely have been a Swedish band if you judge it by the cover and the songs”, Emanuel mentions. “Igatsus” is definitely the jam on Apelsin’s in 1978 released debut album. It is a soft sounding, mesmerising rock track with lush guitar play. “Estonian releases and actually releases from the whole Eastern block, stretching from Soviet main label Melodiya to Hungary's Pepita and Jugoslavias Jugoton labels, often touch pop music, schlager and disco and rock later on. But the music from these catalogs that really appeals to me, often has a dark, harsh and rather depressing feel to it. Especially after the introduction of the synthesizer in many of these countries. This track however, is a standout track from one of the folk bands. It it pretty melancholic, but the production is so amazing and the small breaks are so uplifting.”
    Apelsin, meaning the orange in Estonian, made their first appearance in 1974, playing on a tv-show. Although Igatsus is a fairly incomplex and light piece of music, the band started as a large formation using a vast selection of instruments, such as trombone, harmonica, mandolin, banjo and the traditional Slavic balalaika. Apelsin recorded most albums in the eighties, singing in both Estonian and Russian language. Although their repertoire varied from pop songs to true rock music, their parody and humor has always played a fixed role in their lyrics. 

  • Track 3Cueca Beat Almerindos

    The guitar play transforms subtly as we go from Estonia to Chile. Julio Numhauser Navarro is a Chilean musician who is one of the three founders of “Quilapayún” in 1965, a folk music group that was a prominent and influential exponent of the Nueva Canción Chilena (New Song), a movement with a strong political message. The movement was spread throughout Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s, in what is called "Nueva canción", sparking a renewal in traditional folk music and playing a key role in political movements in the region. Navarro exiled in Sweden after Pinochet's coup d'etat. The music has a Swedish note as well. “This track is from one of many anti-Pinochet records. A big part of the Swedish, non-commercial music scene focused on political struggles, from near by and far away. Sweden played a major role as a protestor, and protector of political asylum seekers in the 1973 military coup d'etat”, Emanuel explains.
    Navarro left the band in 1967, and in 1967 founded "Amerindios" with Julio Salazar, a jazz musician.

  • Track 4谷間を下ってKyozo Nishioka

    “This is a fantastic track by the Japanese singer-songwriter Kyosho Nishioka, taken from a record, according to Google Translate entitled as ‘For Dylan’. Maybe it’s a tribute?” Emanuel thought right. Nishioka was part of a generation of Japanese singer-songwriters that were inspired by Bob Dylan. Dylan visited Japan for the first time in the late 1970s, but he was present in the country long before that, we read on Peter Tasker’s asia blog: “A militant (sometimes very militant) student movement was a part of life here through the late ’60s and early ’70s. It was into this buzzing ferment that Dylan’s music came. Whereas most young Japanese might have believed before then that beautiful melodic harmonies and voices were essential for professional singers, The American singer-songwriter rewired their expectations.
    Dylan was especially influential in the Kansai region. In the late 1960s, there was a ramshackle coffee-shop called Dylan, not far from Osaka’s Nanba entertainment district, which served as a meeting-place for musicians, hippies, theatre people and student radicals.”
    Nishioka‘s song Puka-puka  (“Puff-puff”) about a heavy-smoking jazz singer became a hit and a classic of the genre.

  • Track 5Je Suis Venu Te VoirAreski Belkacem / Brigitte Fontaine

    “Belkacem/Fontaine were pretty ahead of time with this polyrhythmic vocal based track.” Emanuel continues with a song by the much adored, burlesque French Brigitte Fontaine in collaboration with Areski Belkacem. Fontaine was born in Morlaix in the Brittany region of France. Her illustrious works melt folk with free jazz, electronica, spoken word and world rhythms. “Many French pop and folk has a kind of avant-gardistic element in the vocal phrasing. I have no idea why. I think that the French over all have had very interesting mainstream music scenes during the 60ies and 70ies.”
    Fontaine became a duo with Areski Belkacem in the sixties. In 1969, they assembled unit Niok, a mainly impromptu spectacle with the Theatre of Lucernaire, in Paris. Areski also accompanied Brigitte Fontaine at Art Ensemble of Chicago in the performance of "Comme à la radio" at Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier. The duo collaborated over a long period, created multiple eccentric albums in the seventies and exciting pieces for theater in the late seventies.
    Fontaine also collaborated with celebrated musicians as Stereolab, Michel Colombier, Jean-Claude Vannier, Sonic Youth, Grace Jones and the Art Ensemble Of Chicago.

  • Track 6AmomiFrancis Bebey

    Emanuel continues with a personal Francis Bebey favorite. “Bebey expertly lingers between happy and sad musical expression with this composition, and musically nails the confusion in between those two feelings.”
    Cameroonian Francis Bebey was a musician, poet and writer with a fascinating character. While residing in Paris during his music studies, he was frustrated by what he saw as colonial prejudice towards traditional African music and rhythms, that he came up with his great plan – to use Western technology to spread an appreciation of the African music and culture he so loved. His music is a mix of poetry, spoken word and traditional African instrumentation  with Western minimalistic, subdued sounding drum machines. The beautiful song “Amomi”, taken from Bebey's “Un Petit Ivorien” album (1979), illustrates his eccentric works perfectly. 
    On a recent Bebey-compilation by Diggers Digest’s Julien Achard, Bebey’s kid commented on his fathers works: “One day, coming back from school, I discovered a new musical instrument in the house. My parents had to change the whole layout of their living room to accomodate this huge apparatus. ‘This is an electronic organ,’ said my father, proudly as if he was showing me a new car. He seemed so happy, he asked me to control the keys and controls. […] The sounds seemed elastic, as if they were molded from the new materials that were coming out at that time: nylon, polyester. […] My father smiled and said: ‘We’ll be able to have a little fun over here!’ Fun for him meant work, his favorite thing.”

  • Track 7Terra Incognita B (Excerpt) Tribute

    “This piece is only an excerpt from the conceptual 2-sided album "Terra Incognita" from 1990”, Emanuel comments. The Swedish Tribute was a Christian prog rock band, active mainly in the eighties. Founded in Norrköping in 1982 by two friends Gideon Andersson en Christer Rhedin, the group was influenced by artists as Mike Oldfield and Genesis. Both musicians were multi-instrumentalists, schooled by Andersson’s sisters. “This track was recorded in Norrköping and exhibits Tribute’s curiosity for West African rhythm templates, which also becomes clear from their recordings with the Swedish-Sierra Leonian percussionist Ahmadu Jarr. ”
    Most of Tribute’s compositions are pretty dense. In Terra Incognita B, we hear multiple atmospheric and tensional turns, supported by dreamy, staccato piano play. The band had a typical approach to making their music, creating tense harmonies, layering set themes playfully. The members exchanged their instruments during their sessions, which made their live shows spectacular. Tribute was also popular in Germany and the Netherlands.

  • Track 8Hommage a La CorbusierTom Wolgers

    Tom Wolgers is a Swedish musician, composer and model, son of Beppe Wolgers, author, poet, actor and artist. He used to be a key player in the Swedish wave scene during the eighties. “There's this lush, art-school atmosphere over him that I find very interesting”, Emanuel explains.
    Apart from his solo works, Tom Wolgers composed for theater and commercials. After he left his wave group Lustans Lakejer and stopped his modelling carrier, he spent time in the studio to find his distinguished, romantic sound. He released many of his solo works through his IVM imprint. IVM, Industrielle Volk Musik, was specialized in limited edition runs of experimental and avant-garde music.

  • Track 9CollageBoel Adler & Tom Wolgers

    Emanuel introduces another track by Tom Wolgers, featuring vocalist Boel Adler. “This would actually be a pretty perfect opening track. With Boel’s MPC’ed voice saying "Framtid, tid tid" (translates as Future, times, times).”
    The Swedish ex-model collaborated with many. After Lustans Lakejer, he became part of the synth pop group Mockba Music, together with sound engineer John Weaver among others, and formed a duo with Irma Schultz as Paris Bis. There is not so much known about Boel Adler.

  • Track 10Media Hunt Curious Voltage

    This is one of the many tracks from American industrial / EBM musician Andrew Szava-Kovacs. He started a label called K.O City productions, releasing mainly cassettes, that served as an experimental outlet for his and his friends recordings. This track is featured on one of his compilations. “I really like when noise and drone is mixed up with distorted drum machines”, Emanuel discloses.

  • Track 11For Frode & MarcusRoll The Dice

    “This is a group that I believe was set up especially for this release.” Stockholm’s Roll The Dice is the duo Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannefelt, who make futuristic electronic music with an old world flair. This makes sense, as their press pictures portray the musicians as labourers in the early age of industrialisation. The duo released three albums in the past six years. Emanuel continues: “About ten years ago, there was this local initiative called Full Pull organizing music festivals in Malmö and Sao Paolo. They released a number of very scarce 12" white label releases as well, with some really nice music, for example with Vidderna's music that got some recognition in the past years. ‘For Frode & Marcus’ is dark and melodious.”
    But who are Frode & Marcus? A quick research lead to the duo’s website, stating they dedicated their lives to save humanity from boredom. Their connection with Roll the Dice is clear - Frode & Marcus created the clip for Roll The Dice’s “Cause and Effect” single. The video confronts the viewer with Scandinavia’s deep winter days, by exposing a road trip through winding mountain roads and bizarre, isolated villages. 

  • Track 12Hawaiian CaravanRyo Kawasaki

    Jazz fusion guitarist Ryo Kawasaki was born in Toyko, Japan. Although he originally planned on becoming a scientist, Kawasaki quit his studies to fully concentrate on guitar, playing with a variety of Japanese jazz groups throughout the sixties. In the early seventies, Kawasaki moved to New York City, where he played regularly with jazz giants as Gil Evans, Elvin Jones, Chico Hamilton and JoAnne Brackeen. Although he had released several albums in the eighties, he traded performance for programming music software for computers. Kawasaki also formed his own record label, Satellites Records. 

  • Track 13Rocket For RenePete Willsher, Keith Miller

    Kawasaki’s trip transforms into an exciting British library music sounding piece, in the vein of Jan Hammer or Brian Bennett. Not a strange comparison, as Willsher is a UK citizen, born in Southend-on-Sea Essex. Although this is a British production, the song leads directly back to Sweden. “This record was recorded for swedish aluminum enterprise Korrugal. Most of the tracks are over-the-top-synth infused, so this is the standout track for me. The company appointed some UK musicians for this release, intended as a futurist marketing tool for their customers”, Emanuel explains.
    Pete Willsher has been involved in many music projects, Keith Miller is fairly unknown. Willsher started playing the guitar at a very young age - he has always been obsessed with music. His carrier took off after moving to London. The young adult began working with professional bands both in the UK and abroad. Due to his 'unusual' style and his ability to play pedal steel guitar, was being offered work in recording studios and on Radio & TV. 

    In the late 70's, Willsher formed a partnership with keyboard player Keith Miller. They started a company called Impossible Productions. After a few years Keith & Pete went their separate ways, though remaining good friends.  

  • Track 14Autodidakt Hasse Bruniusson

    Swedish drummer Hasse Bruniusson worked with a lot of the big prog bands of the 1970's, but this is his first solo album dated 1983. Hasse Bruniusson was active in the Swedish prog scene as well. “He was a member of the highly acclaimed, conceptual, artistic, I would say, weird group Samla Mammas Manna. This is taken from his solo record “Mannaminne”. It reminds me a lot of Armand Frydmand’s “Jungle” track. It's a regular spin over at my homebase - Wildlife Records.”

  • Track 15Bamboo Houses 5.26Sakamoto/Sylvian

    Emanuel rounds up his mix with a monumental collaboration between two legendary musicians: Ryuchi Sakamoto and David Sylvian. “Bamboo Houses” was made when both composers were starting their solo carriers. At the time, Sakamoto was still part of the groundbreaking Japanese pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra and Sylvian was still the lead singer in the British synth-pop band Japan. Sylvian commented on “Bamboo Houses” for the compilation “A Victim Of Stars 1982-2012”: “I guess after the band had broken up, I wasn't sure what direction I was going to move in. I didn't write anything for a period of time, which was unusual for me. And then Ryuichi gave me 'Forbidden Colours' to work on and it opened the doors for me a little bit. Suddenly the flow of writing began to really just open up and new material began arriving. [...] I thought it was beautiful. I mean, sonically it was incredible. I loved all the samples that he was using. And we were so very much into sound design at the time, between Yellow Magic Orchestra and what we were doing at that point in our evolution. So sound design was a big part of it for us, and what Ryuichi as producer did was extraordinary with that particular piece of music. And the melody itself was outstanding. Originally – I don't know if he told me afterwards or before my writing the lyrics for the track – Ryuichi expected me to write a melody along with his written melody, to sing the melody that he had written. But I had found that that was impossible and undesirable. So it was counter to the melody. I tried to find something that would work with it but it was a counter-melody that sat comfortably with the original melody that he had created. I would watch Ryuichi in the studio with Bertolucci over his shoulder telling him, 'A little more of this, little less of that', and what have you, and Ryuichi's very malleable in that respect, and very open and flexible. And I think that's a virtue, but it's not one that I have."
    Sakamoto and Sylvian’s solo carriers have been staggering. Sakamoto won many awards for his music for film. He soundtracked The Last Emperor and more recent, The Revenant. Sylvian made many albums and worked with Holger Czukay among others.