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“Shopping For Images” by Midaircondo

Quirky Swedish experimental pop, and a little more.

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midaircondo are a Swedish trio (Lisa Nordstrom, Lisen Rylander and Malin Dahlstrom) fusing highly visual performance with improvised live electro acoustic music. These three gifted musicians realised during a knitting session that that they all had a similar urge to experiment with sound and widen their musical range. The three developed their unique sound through improvised jam sessions using saxophone, flute, vocals and all of course laptops and samplers. By further incorporating a plethora of unusual instruments and abstract recorded sounds, their jam sessions developed into structured and coherent improvisations.

Before long midaircondo were on stage, and these experimental methods became the basis of their sound. The live element became the core of the band, something unusual in modern electronic music. Whereas most acts have to struggle to translate an electronic home-studio sound into live performance, midaircondo had to work out how to mix their powerful live dynamic down to an album. ‘Shopping For Images’ is a purified essence of this vibrant energy, and while tailored for the studio, it still retains the live improvised quality which makes midaircondo so unique.

‘Eva Stern, Shake It’ opens the album with dissolving bubbles of saxophone and flute playfully tumbling over each other, before the first breath of evocative vocals. The rich cocktail of genres is what jumps out most suddenly from this unusual record. Promptly after this we are treated to the beautiful triumphant pop of ‘Serenade’ launches itself and there is no going back. This track, already receiving extensive radio play and a highlight of their very successful Sonar Festival live set is a testament to the band’s gift for creating leftfield pop. A short piano loop forms the basis for a grand vocal masterpiece. Elsewhere the sultry, smoky Lynchian jazz of ‘Sorry’ shows that midaircondo can also master the sounds of dark cabaret. Deep bass and swooping atmospheres plunge the listener into midaircondo’s world; one of variety and depth, and for fifty minutes it is impossible to escape its charm.

The light touch of humanity that midaircondo’s improvised sound deftly moulds is a breath of fresh air in electronic music. Whilst harnessing incredible sound design skills, they also manage to inject what can sometimes appear cold and calculated with life and vibrant colour. However it would be difficult to list influences, as Lisa, Lisen and Malin have been performing and working with music for far too long to pick single artists. As much influenced by a stray radio broadcast or a glittering pop melody as the latest star-studded albums, midaircondo are a self-contained musical constellation.