All too often, instrumental bands become vocal bands. But on this EP, a vocal duo has become an instrumental duo. Separating by 649km, these Swedes had already recorded four internet collaborations. It was time for them to try recording in person. And so the Drone and Hum sessions were born.
Linus brought his toys. Johan brought his toys. They laid them all out in the room, and put a microphone in the middle. Sometimes they composed; at other times they improvised. The loose nature of the set reflects the freedom of the process. The only vocals are wordless expressions of contentment. Imagine a stripped-down Do Make Say Think playing at 33 1/3 instead of 45, and you’re almost there. This is warm, enveloping, humble, homespun music. One can picture a front porch, a pair of rocking chairs, a jug of iced tea. The pair demonstrates an obvious chemistry; each sound meshes gently with those around it.
The piano is the main instrument throughout the EP, embellished by (very) light electronics and the advertised hums. There’s little drone to be found, but the title is a clear reference to U2’s Rattle and Hum, which doesn’t include many rattles. At 7:28, opening track “Sonja” takes up a quarter of the seven-track EP, but establishes the pace: calm, deliberate, unrushed. One can float to such a track, which urges one to slow down: to drop beneath the speed limit, to put aside one’s work, to unplug from clocks and calendars.
One of the dedications is to the duo’s grandmothers, whose era is captured in the first two videos, “Joni” and “Traneberg”. Not much happens in these slices-of-life; their main purpose is to remind viewers of a softer, simpler time. No one is checking a cellphone or updating a Facebook page. This is the world as we once knew it, in which a tall tree or a pair of hares could instill wonder. The speed of “Herta” – a beat every 2 1/2 seconds – flies in the face of modern expectation. When the outside world finally intrudes on these performers – cars, trains and birds at the end of “Virginia” and the beginning of “Eric’s Dinosaur” – it’s as if to say, “we know this moment can’t last forever, but we want to extend it as long as possible.” The toys are left for another time, another visit; but they will be there, kept safe, as a friend would do for a friend. (Richard Allen)