You may know Johan Agebjörn as the producer/songwriter behind the melancholy Italo Disco of Sally Shapiro. Or maybe you know him for his charming new age-inspired albums, or his remixes for people like Lindstrom and You Say Party. Sadly, you may not even know him at all. Well, if you're a fan of big, bright and glittery nu disco, you need to get hip right now to the Swedish producer. His new album Casablanca Nights is packed with wonderfully constructed, perfectly arranged and sung disco jams that sound just right in 2011 with the summer coming up. They also would have fit right in back in 1976 or 1986. Or anytime really! We asked him to make us a list of his all-time favorite Swedish electronic artists and he provided us with some nice new/old electronic avenues to explore.
First, here's "Watch the World Go By" from Casablanca Nights: Watch the World Go By
1. Fake (80s)
When I spent all my pocket money on Italo Disco compilations as a kid, I believed that all artists on them came from Italy. So I was very surprised when the songwriters and producers to Fake's Italo Disco classic "Frogs In Spain" had all Swedish names. Interestingly, the Swedish group had its first success in the Italian charts, before being recognized in Sweden. Their album New Art is something as uncommon as a perfectly balanced and flowing Italo Disco album, in an otherwise very single-based genre of music. Perfect pop songs are mixed with more arty, cinematic pieces ("Empty Garden" is an example of the latter). You should play the B-side before the A-side though. Sadly, the band split up in the middle of the '80s, before any follow-up was completed.
2. Krister Linder (80s-present)
Krister Linder produces (mostly) electronic music but is also a singer with an angelic voice. He has made music under aliases such as Yeti, Tupilaq, and Solaroid to mention a few. This is electronic music from the heart. His mid-'90s Yeti/Tupilaq period was very inspirational to me at the time -- here electro beats were mixed with ambient soundscapes in a way I hadn't heard before. My ambient albums on Lotuspike wouldn't have sounded the same without having heard this music. There are also recent works by Krister that have grabbed me, such as the track "Dare" from the soundtrack to the Swedish sci-fi movie Metropia.
3. Cloetta Paris (late 00s)
For followers of Sally Shapiro, it probably comes as no surprise to see the neo-Italo Disco duo Cloetta Paris on this list. They sang backing vocals on "Love In July" and wrote "Save Your Love" for us. The main producer, Roger Gunnarsson, is a collaborator also on my new album. Cloetta Paris is poppy, melancholic, sweet music and "I Miss You, Someone" was my favourite track of 2007. It's included on their only album so far, Secret Eyes.
4. FPU (early 00s)
This is another artist that I was surprised to discover was Swedish. Peter Benisch sounds very German, and at the time I discovered him (2004, after DJ support from Alexander Robotnick) I wasn't used to hearing good-quality electro from Sweden. Peter Benisch made mostly ambient music, released on labels such as Turbo Recordings and Pete Namlook's legendary ambient label Fax, but it's his electro-disco under the name FPU that I love the most. (He also opened my ears for how 80s-style basslines could be used in more modern mixes.) The tracks with atmospheric pads are the peaks, such as "Waiting For Snow" and the Miami Vice soundtrack cover "Crockett's Theme".
5. Plod (late 90s, early 00s)
In the late 90s, I was a close follower of the British IDM scene (through the IDM mailing list on hyperreal.org, if anyone cares), and I would still say that Aphex Twin might be the biggest musical genius ever. The Northern Swedish duo Plod was heavily influenced by this genre, and they released an album and a 12" on London-based Worm Interface. Before that, they had self-released a few demos which also contain a few gems. The CD Pillow Talk was the peak, and even though it sounds very much like an album of its time, it contains timeless harmonies and melodies played with the warmest analog sounds. Interestingly, the duo recently appeared with two new mp3s on the net: Rygghorn and Kokvrån