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Vita Bergen - Disconnection

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 15 / 5 / 2016

Vita Bergen - Disconnection
Label: Glitterhouse Records
Format: CD


Musically rich and rewarding debut from Gothenburg eight-piece alternative rock outfit, Vita Bergen

Well, this will blow away all conceptions that the only decent music to come out of Sweden these days is their take on Americana. While it has to be said that Scandinavians often create a better version of what has become to be classed as Americana than the guys and girls from across the pond, there’s also this almost underground movement going on producing a much darker and, dare we say, more interesting music. The press release informs us that Vita Bergen’s main influences include Pink Floyd, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Brian Jonestown Massacre and MGMT. Fair enough, but let’s add a little Joy Division and New Order in there as well then please if we are going to be that particular. Arcade Fire seems to be the band Vita Bergen are most compared to. Okay, then…good that we all take different things from the music we listen to. The eight-man strong band has two main contributors, William Hellström who is the lead vocalist and Robert Jallinder who plays guitar and also lends vocals. The pair wrote all eight songs on ‘Disconnection’ and Hellström also played a major part in producing the set. The throbbing bass lines that inform the opening cut, ‘In the City’ (about as far away musically as possible from both The Who and The Jam’s songs bearing the same name) and Hellström’s brooding vocals give notice that we’re going to be in for an unsettling trip. While the song displays a sense of menace, there is this feeling that shards of light are going to break through the darkness any second, which, before the track ends in a melee of electric guitar, happens for a few seconds and even Hellström’s vocals veer off into places unexpected. It is an interesting start to the album, even if it does leave you feeling a little breathless. The title track follows and shows that while the band are fond of creating a dense sound they never lose sight of structure like some of their suggested influences were prone to do. Again there’s a lot going on there. Initial impressions of the song quickly change. With so many layers, so much texture involved, it could have been an unlistenable mess, but it’s to the bands credit that they can take so many differing ideas and gel them into something cohesive. Covering so much ground in the space of one song isn’t easy, especially if the end result has to be a song that stands up to repeated listening. ‘Disconnection’ is one of those albums which don’t come around too often; many albums are either headphone albums you need to listen to alone and shut the world out. Others fall into the piss the neighbours off category and demand to be played loud. What Vita Bergen have achieved is an album which satisfies both needs depending on your mood. The intricacies that are there but hidden when played loud through a system really become integral parts of the song when the album is heard through headphones. The fact that Jens Fänge’s striking cover art is entitled ‘Det Stora Kalaset’ (The Big Party), and displays a group of people in, shall we say, a confused state, might indicate that the band intend the album to be played loud and enjoyed when our minds are not focused on the mundane things of everyday life but there’s so much more that this set of songs reveals when those headphones go on. The best of both worlds… Although clocking in at less than thirty minutes and just eight songs are featured, there’s a lot happening in each track that makes hitting that replay button a must. It’s impossible to get past the third track, ‘Curtains’, without having to hear it again immediately; there are so many shifts and changes and the song is so catchy it demands to be heard again. The same can be said for the following song, ‘Replace’. Although Hellström’s vocals again draw clouds across the track, there are sections when the light shines through, not just in the catchy melody that surfaces at times but in Hellström’s actual vocals. The more you become accustomed to his changing vocal style the more obvious it becomes that Hellström is a vocalist of some worth. While Vita Bergen is very much a band, and each and every player makes their mark on these songs, there are a couple of tracks that feature Hellström alone. ‘Schoolyard’ is an atmospheric piece where Hellström takes all the vocals and instruments. It’s a chilling, affecting piece showcasing just how versatile a singer he is. The following ‘Closer Away’ is less experimental, almost poppy, but just as atmospheric. Stunning, in fact. The closing ‘Alexia’ finds Robert Jallinder taking lead vocals and proving that Hellström is far from the only exceptional vocalist in the band. Again the band show that when it comes to electronic-based indie pop that’s far from lightweight they are at the top of the tree. Let’s hope that there’s enough interest in ‘Disconnection’ for the band to make a follow-up. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Track Listing:-
1 In the City
2 Disconnection
3 Curtains
4 Replace
5 Schoolyard
6 Closer Away
7 Bookstore
8 Alexia

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