Olof Dreijer and Mount. Sims present a collaborative release entitled Souvenir, due out on Rabid Records on June 9. The five-track record centres around the rich harmonics of the steel drum. A first track, the emotional, flute-filled ‘Hybrid Fruit,’ is available to stream now.
The start of the Souvenir project dates back to when Dreijer (alongside his sister Karin as The Knife) and Sims were collaborating with Planningtorock on the Tomorrow, In A Year album. They were contacted by the organization SFOTE from Trinidad/New York, who asked them to work on a project using an original steel drum made by the father of the modern steel drum, Trinidad-based legend Ellie Mannette.
Conscious of the drum’s colonial history and the way the instrument has often been stereotypically depicted by Western artists like themselves, Dreijer and Sims thought it was important to comment on that. It took them 10 years to develop a personal language for the steel drum, and they slowly and surely formed the five tracks that make up Souvenir.
“We tried to find our own thing,” explains Dreijer. “That’s usually our way around using an instrument that has been heavily exoticised and appropriated.” So with no experience or training, the duo played the instrument using non-traditional methods like ball bearings, and water to bring out softer, lesser-heard timbres and textures.
They also wanted to highlight Scandinavia’s role in the colonial project of the Caribbean. While researching the steel drum’s history, they discovered it had long been a sound of protest as well as celebration. Aiming to intervene on the image of national purity that has been associated with Swedish folk music, the duo reinterpreted the medieval Swedish folk song “Liten Karin” and gave it a new musical setting with new melodies and phrasing.
Dreijer and Sims’ intentions and expressions with Souvenir reached beyond the music they recorded, as they invited the writers Anna-Maria Sörberg, Nathan Hamelberg and Tomas Hemstad to co-author an interpretive text which can be read further down. To this, the Tunisian artist Aïcha Snoussi has contributed original visual artwork inspired by the themes of the music and text.
The record’s first single, ‘Hybrid Fruit’ starts steadily and builds over its eight-minute duration into a flurry of rubbery rhythm and complex harmonics that Sims and Dreijer augment with subtle echoes and reverberations.
News of Souvenir follows Dreijer’s recent co-production work on the critically acclaimed new Fever Ray record Radical Romantics. He was also recently added to the bill for this year’s edition of Dekmantel Festival on the newly-formed Radar stage and announced two UK DJ shows next month – Kiss Me Again at The White Hotel in Manchester and Pumping Velvet at London’s Dalston Superstore. In addition to the release of Souvenir and his increased DJing activities, Olof has been working on some new solo material which should start surfacing later this year.
Mount Sims, originally from the US, became known for his catchy electronic pop in the early 2000’s with his albums Ultra-sex and Wild light and later a more dark-wave direction with the album Happily Ever After.
releases June 9, 2023
Mastered by Johan Åkerström at Cosmos Mastering, Stockholm
Artwork by Aïcha Snoussi
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