“Don’t Look Back Into The Darkness” (release: October 11th, 2013)
Do you have to be Swedish to cast such deep melancholy in music so accurately and so beautifully? The one-man project The Grand Opening by the Stockholm multi-instrumentalist John Roger Olsson proves impressively on his fourth album that he is rightly counted among the finest representatives of this art.
Being mentioned directly alongside American Music Club, Talk Talk, Red House Painters and The Blue Nile – as happens in the British music press – is certainly flattering. And these references are indeed helpful to give a rough impression. But their resemblance to The Grand Opening is mainly to do with the mood created by the music. Anyone familiar with the previous three albums will recognize the typical monotonous guitar structures, the sparse but always beautiful harmonic framework, and of course Olsson’s unique melancholy and warm voice – all perfectly arranged and recorded at the highest technical level with various guest musicians (see below).
What is missing from those references – and here we come back to the initial question – is, let’s call it “the Swedish component”. The Grand Opening sonically evokes the lonely and romantic image of the Swedish countryside and pairs this with lyrics questioning man’s place in the world and personal memories of the past. So it was perfectly apt that a short time before he began recording the new album, Olsson found old photos at his grandmother’s house that magically reflect the mood that he intended to create, and which he therefore chose for the album’s artwork. The cover image especially appealed to him: it shows his family on a boating excursion, strangely paused, and at the center of the image, in a very spooky way, one family member has faded into a ghostly figure.
The recordings for the album began in 2012 with sessions featuring a rotating cast, but the search for the right direction was difficult. Finally, John Roger Olsson locked himself up in his new studio in Stockholm and, inspired by ideas and chords that had occupied him for a long time, recorded the album in four days. The resulting songs were accompanied by Jens Pettersson (drums), Patric Thorman (bass) and Leo Svensson Sander (cello) and augmented by Johan Krantz and Anna Ödlund on backing vocals.