What is it about Sweden that’s made it such a current hotbed of eccentric musical activity?
Perhaps it’s the financial benison afforded artists by the government, which in turn engenders comradeship rather than competition within the creative community. Perhaps it’s just the clean air and open spaces.
Whatever the spark, recently there’s been a glut of artists to emerge from this pocket of northern Europe, proudly individual and yet quintessentially, unmistakably Swedish – take Lykke Li, for example, or Jens Lekman. On the one hand immaculately poised, too cool for school, these artists seem also disarmingly sincere, even naïve.
It would be wrong to call Jesper Jarold and Jahin Melin, who record as Fontän, naïve, but they’re certainly not afraid to draw inspiration from unfashionable quarters: the zig-zagging guitar riff that runs through their debut single ‘Early Morning’ put ones in mind of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ and, by unfortunate extension, Jeremy Clarkson; but it’s the influence of (gulp) prog-rock that looms largest – perhaps unsurprising, given that Johan’s parents were members of legendary Swedish prog band Nationalteatern. “It feels a bit weird talking about my parents’music, it doesn’t really have that much to do with Fontän. They were a bit more political.”
“The Swedish prog scene in general is definitely an influence though,” Jesper chips in. “There was a time when were listening a lot to it, like ‘Ur trollkarlens hatt’ by Bo Hansson and some of Träd, Gräs o Stenar.”
Nah, we’ve never heard of Bo Hansson either, but we have heard of Studio – the best band in Sweden, responsible for last year’s neo-Balearic masterpiece West Coast – who’ve signed Fontän to their own Information label. Jesper used to be in a band called Svenson with Studio’s Rasmus, who also designed the artwork for ‘Early Morning’, giving the release what Johan calls “total harmony”.
“It seemed pretty naturally for us to work with Studio. We share the same rehearsal space. We talk and drink a lot of coffee together.” More crucially, the two bands share a love of open-road psychedelia; Fontän lean more towards traditional song-form than Studio and their open-ended dub-rock freakouts, but their music is no less cosmic in scope – think Echo & The Bunnymen meets Klaus Schulze and you’re halfway there.
“Things are pretty slow and boring in Sweden,” proffers Jesper by way of explanation. “It tends to make us fantasize a lot.”