Brooklyn’s hipsters, the Thames’ folkies and Portland’s vegans can all go whistle; it’s factually indisputable that there is nowhere on earth producing music as cool and vital as Sweden right now, and predominantly its second city, Gothenburg. You’ll have heard of Robyn, Lykke Li and Fever Ray, but perhaps not Fontän, an esoteric duo specialising in Balearic-influenced krautpop that throbs with 80s faux-goth foreboding.
Back in 2006, Jesper Jarold and Johan Melin released their debut, ‘Aktionskammarn’ to little fanfare even within their home country – featuring guest vocals from and co-produced by fellow Gothenburg musical underbarn El Perro Del Mar (Sarah Assbring to her mum), it’s an awesomely kooky yet slightly mismatched collection of wistful, palimpsest Swedish vocals in a faded St Etienne vein. But on their new record, ‘Winterhwila’, released in August this year, the occasional experimental motorik beats that splashed their tails through the gauzy lake’s surface of ‘Aktionskammarn’ destroy any hint of sweetness or melancholy humanity, aided by the Victor Frankenstein to their dominating electronic beast, Swedish super producer D Lissvik.
To list all the influences tangible in ‘Winterhwila’ might sound like the hellish musical equivalent of a petulant kid emptying his toybox onto the floor and throwing an ear-wrenching tantrum when he realises he can’t play with them all at once, but there’s something robotically sexy and just so goddamned right about the kinetic krautrock ambience of Cluster being shredded by indulgent King Crimson prog solos whilst a David Sylvian sound-a-like breathes creepily anodyne non-sequiturs over the top. That’s not to mention Lissvik’s trademark housey production, which sheds a gorgeously hazy, Balearic light over Fontän’s shadowy angles.
An astoundingly coherent second album aside, the other undefeatable argument to listen to Fontän is the seemingly never-ending musical journey that they’ll kick-start. Alike in only ethos and origin, D Lissvik’s production work will lead you from his own band, Studio, to his other protégés Lake Heartbeat and The Embassy to their divine Service labelmate Jens Lekman and beyond. Several of them will most likely be playing Gothenburg’s Way Out West festival next August, so start swotting and saving for your plane tickets now. As the Swedes would say, “super nice.”