Anyone up for a fairy tale about death, featuring a flying “sphere” that looks like a cross between a bunny and a Big Mac? Sweden is, as the soundtrack to Sjunga slutet nu was the nation’s best reviewed album in 2011. The film has just made its Gothenburg festival debut, and Häpna has readied the score for international release.
Sjunga slutet nu (Sing the end now) is a rich listen, awash in nuance. It’s also a full listen; with 25 tracks in 70 minutes, Hans Appelqvist doesn’t skimp on the music. Film dialogue and sound effects weave their way into the score, providing a sense of place; the setting may seem like a dream, but it’s grounded in reality. In much the same way, the music often veers into the otherworldly (the symphonic rock ending of “I ett fall”, the rumbling intro of “Vinter”, the dark maskings of “Djurens mörkermening & en människas slut”), but is just as likely to lounge on earth through piano ballad and folk song. At times the album takes on a classical tinge (“mot jorden”, “ur elden”), in other moments jazz (“Ur svart mot vitt”, “Ur vitt mot svart”). Appelqvist seems content to defy the natural rules in order to present a sense of the unfettered. This works to the album’s benefit; the listener is kept off guard, but curious.
In Sjunga slutet nu, Appelqvist has created his own little world, in which nothing seems unnatural or out of place. Despite the presence of death, the tone remains benign. Tracks such as the sprightly “Vatten” seem to be dancing past acceptance into a full embrace. Perhaps here, death is not a thing to be feared, but another location, no less bizarre than the starting point. As a choir sings on “Människans mörkermening”, it seems less to ease the passage into the next life as to celebrate participation in this one. The silence between this track and the seven that remain seems to indicate loss, but the splashing on “Djurens mörkermening & en människas slut” implies timelessness while hearkening back to the cover image, in which the air above is as mysterious as the depths below. (Richard Allen)