The first time I heard Logh I was in Stockholm and had been drinking with a guy from Virginia and an Irishman, who had coincidentally spent time in a Thai prison, at a bar in Gamla Stan. I somehow got around to starting a conversation with a Swedish girl at the bar, which somehow turned to Elliott Smith, not an uncommon turn in a conversation that I am involved in, and then somehow I found myself seated, listening to a cd on headphones that extended from her backpack. I retain no impression of the music that she played me, only that of the guttural insistence with which she pronounced the gh sound at the end of Logh. Now, over a year later, I have the opportunity to review an album by that once clandestine Swedish band that was unable to win my heart, or my memory, in a lousy bar where terrible music was turned to eleven and a seven-dollar pint of Heineken was the cheapest option. And what comes to mind first, in this second first impression, is that this is a band unlike, in many ways, the other Swedish bands I have heard. More apt to become enamored with the etherealities of the Icelandic outfits that have begun imposing themselves on the musically conscious in the past few years, I have been largely immune to the charms of the rakish, gruffly garage-y Swedish rock `n’ roll bands infecting similar airwaves, those shared by both the in the “know” and the “don’t care if I know,” segments of various populations.
There has seemed to be a dichotomy which exists in the Scandinavian “pop” music which has permeated my consciousness—that between the tendency to rock and roll and knock the audience on its ass, and the no less noble tendency to construct soporific webs of sound which ensure that the audience will remain on its ass where it started, contemplating the multifarious representations of reality suggested by music that ever so often sounds as if it has been imported from another galaxy where everyone is either happily anaesthetized or uncommonly comfortable being whatever it is that they are. To me, Logh is a band that somewhat bridges this divide. In this light, that the first band which they conjure is Sonic Youth is not surprising; but whereas any SY album, even the least arcane, is spun with long drawn out passages of aural intricacy and density, Logh is content to stay within the slim boundaries of the under five minute tune, wherein everything thing seems connected; wherein there is no sudden sonic freak-out, so to speak. Logh can rock out as they do on songs like “Destinymanifesto” and “An Alliance of Worlds” (the shoutiness of which is in stark contrast to the relatively subdued vocals on the rest of the album), or luxuriate in the intimation of violence (as they do in “Bring on the Ether”) or meander through spare guitar sketches such as “Ahabian.”
This ability to shift personalities within one body makes Logh an interesting band. They are, aside from this, also an interesting band that sometimes makes interesting music. Despite the different resonances of the various tracks, or perhaps because of them, A Sunset Panorama‘s shifts of mood feel less like disturbances than organic progressions. One may inhabit new sonic space at different points throughout, but he is simultaneously conscious that they are also of a unity. I think that Logh could benefit from an undermining of this unity.
To be sure, there are many angularities within Logh songs; but the songs themselves, as whole entities, as audible objects, do sometimes seem too delineated for their own good. That is to say, they suggest territory that could be traversed which is not, and it is not unusual for this territory to seem more interesting than the territory that is covered. This is an album which was rehearsed for six months and then recorded in ten hours and it sounds that way, spotted with songs that at times seem nearly still born, as if life was squeezed out of them before they were set to tape. In short, they are songs in need of the imprecise grace of the accidental. No doubt an extension toward this state is fraught with pitfalls, with unpleasant accidents and indulgences, but, for Logh, it could also bear accidents gorgeous in kind. There is much to like about A Sunset Panorama, and also much by which to be disappointed. Logh has reached a point where they have produced a self-assured collection of closely cropped songs. It now remains to be seen whether they will extend beyond that into the unknown regions intimated by those here traveled.
The Notwist – 12
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