Porn Sword Tobacco: New Exclusive Olympic Heights
City Centre Offices

Gothenburg resident Henrik Jonsson's third Porn Sword Tobacco outing, New Exclusive Olympic Heights, wends a varied stylistic route through fourteen tracks in a mere thirty-six minutes. Most of it's drenched in static and hiss, making the album sound like foggy transmissions one barely manages to pick up through a decrepit old radio. When moody minimal themes course through a stream of crackle and interference in “Copyright The Universe,” the static mass is so thick it almost obliterates the piano melody that forces its way to the surface near the song's end. Recorded over a two-year period, New Exclusive Olympic Heights variously recalls the work of Marsen Jules, Brian Eno, Boards of Canada, and Angelo Badalamenti: the pluck and twang of an acoustic guitar against a thick mass of hiss in “Den Rosa Sporten” evokes Marsen Jules; “U.S. Saloon Props 41/59” is gloomy and dark in a manner that recalls Badalamenti's Wild At Heart soundtrack; and “Ljus, Den Yttersta Gåvan” is an almost carbon-copy Boards of Canada synthesizer vignette.

One of the nicest things about Jonsson's sound is its deliciously analogue, old-school character, in particular his preference for a synthesizer sound that's straight off of Eno's Music For Films . One of the most puzzling things, on the other hand, is Jonsson's predilection for cheesy melodies—a tongue-in-cheek or serious gesture? “Cubical Fever” features the kind of crude electronic keyboards one might hear on Bo Hanssen's 1972 opus Magician's Hat , while it's difficult to know whether to wince or swoon in the face of the sentimental keyboard weaves that dominate “Pappa! Min Kärlek Är Gravid.” “Giftwrap Yourself, Slowly,” by contrast, succeeds by offsetting its ‘80s MOR keyboard melodies with snappy, crackle-drenched hip-hop beats. In many respects, this wholly unusual album is wholly about contrast: at one moment, we get the amusing but superfluous non sequitur “My Lovely Wife Becky,” wherein a session leader instructs others in the art of sales; at the next moment, we confront the heartfelt melancholy of a classical piano in the enticing “En Hyllning Till Cyckeln.”

June 2007