last evening we were rummaging about in one of our record shops, when the recommendation section appealed to us through an alluring cover. a black and white beauty showing punctilious geometrical sketches of buildings, strongly inspired by the darkest hours of humanity. a sticker displayed on the plastic packaging revealing the participation of german artist Andrea Schroeder convinced us that the discovery of Sällskapet would be the most remarkable finding of the day. and, as a matter of fact, it was.
founded in 2003 but kept secret until 2007, the brainchild of Joakim Thåström, Pelle Ossler and Niklas Hellberg, seem to have received almost an immediate critical acclaim, at least in their homeland, in sweden. Sällskapet (which may be translated by “a small group of people” or a “small society”) released the very same year a debut single Nordlicht, named after a bar in hamburg, and two ambient-industrial albums respectively entitled Sällskapet (2007) and Nowy Port (2013). it must be said that both of them evinced already a strong appetite for highly-enjoyable dystopian flavours and murky shadows. with 2018’s Disparition published a few days ago via BMG, the band that no longer consists of Thåström who appears however as guest singer, further widens the furrow of desperation and propounds a disquieting suburban wander in an oppressive, uninviting wasteland – served also by Andrea Schroeder’s eerie voice. Hellberg resides currently in berlin and this explains logically the relevant presence of Schroeder on this third album, and the singular hopelessness instilled through the nine meaningful pieces offered by Disparition.
the heart-rending (german) lyrics of this breathtaking songwriter and musician, whose discovery a few years ago had hooked us on for months, pair superbly with Sällskapet’s haunted airspace. together, they collide with the disruptive disappearance of both people and time, the fugacity of our lives that fly away like impatient birds, and the needfulness to enjoy each moment, as they arise.
all this might sound quite distressing and tragic, but the warmth of Andrea Schroeder’s undaunted voice suggests to withstand, even if time remains elusive eventually. in Die Zeit vergeht (time is flying by), the piano and violin notes, and Schroeder’s mellow lalalas magnified by Thåström’s upper voice, make every effort to soothe the palpable tension but are quickly rejoin by sultry and threatening humming. the end of the song sets clearly the tone anyway, since “es ist zu spät” (it’s too late). an obvious magnificence emanates from this inescapable despair through Ossler’s roaring guitar, which howl acts as a cry wolf in a puzzling winsomeness.
Westerplatte and Tiefenrausch, the both unspoken songs, confirms the inevitability of the verdict in a very beguiling spectral way. this might be the very end, but this is a very beautiful one. with Walzer, Schroeder breathes nerve, shows that all this is bearable, provided that you/she hold tight to someone – “an Dich” (to you), this very you that may be a lover, a friend, a compass, a lifeline, indeed something, someone of upper importance. in Wandler, Andrea Schroeder tells about her stroll in ghostly streets. she dreams about life, about death, she states that this is only a dream, yet it conveys a bitter aftertaste that this is an inescapable loophole.
in the end, it makes no difference whether you understand Goethe’s language or not, because Sällskapet’s music and surroundings, together with Shroeder’s cogent interpretation, speak for themselves and deliver the message intended quite plainly. unquestionably, Disparition is the ideal spacey companion till doomsday and has already entered the competition for the best album of the year. because never before had the quietus been so inviting.
Disparition can be purchased here.