1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: A Diversion: 01 - Röyksopp and a Different Sweden

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Diversion: 01 - Röyksopp and a Different Sweden

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Recently I moved to Sweden's less populate mid-East, somewhere between the gleaming pearl of Stockholm, set on its several little islands and the almost permanently frozen North. Before I was only vaguely aware of Nordic cultures. I've heard some of the music, I've seen some of the art, that digitalized outcry of popular nihilism, that is to say that unwarranted rebellion of the young, grown up in a world, way too caring and nurturing, but at the same time expecting. 

The first thing i did when I came here, was of course join everyone else at the local student's pub. I was given a green plastic bracelet and very little instruction on how to interact. The day of the introduction we were told the Swedes are generally reserved people, who don't pull their curtains ever, so if you stayed long enough after dark you could get a free show. With that in mind I planned on getting too drunk to notice anything not in my immediate vicinity, let alone spy on my new found co-citizens, so I settled for a dark corner of the pub beer in hand and very little expectation of anything else than the trendiest most bland and uninspiring music there is. Somehow in the back of my mind I've always imagined Sweden as that thoughtful almost mythical land where Röyksopp plays nearly all the time, with the shadows of houses floating in the air, constantly at the side of your vision.  Instead what I got was a large amount of immigrants equally as disoriented as me, and a minority of well dressed blond and blue eyed, or artificially colored black haired chicks, well-maintained guys, skinny jeans, flashy necklaces, or depending on the scene droopy dresses over jeans and a spiky fro.

Almost immediately on one of my brakes for a smoke outside of the club I got into a conversation with a bunch of locals, and was offered snuss. So far so good, the alcohol and the nicotine balanced each other out enough for me to half-puke, half buzz. All the while I must have had an hour long conversation about hipsters and Requiem for a Dream, turns out one of the Swedes was a movie nut, and had been waiting for an opportunity to talk about his love for Pi and Trainspotting. So I listened and nodded and added some of my own thoughts, still somewhat expecting for people in night-gowns to come floating to and through and drip milk from their bare feet, I don't know why I equate Sweden with Röyksopp, a Norwegian band, but still, I was not nearly dissuaded enough yet.

The next day as light broke, I could walk around the small town, and it felt like, nothing. None of the cultural edginess of Stockholm, none of the brilliantly bland and at the same time provoking graffiti of the inevitably attached suburbia. The most poignant image of Sweden, I've had before that was a link-track breaking up a pile of concrete on a post-90s suburban setting with the message "We liked it better that way." written in black blocky stenciled letters on the nearby wall. Apparently an old industrial scheme, being transformed into another uniformly beautiful and calm housing area. The affected inhabitants, sporting Converse and smog-coloured silicone bracelets had rebelled against the mechanical efficiency with which the country was loosing it's feel for the 90s and for the nostalgic value of it they were right to demand for their childhood  to be preserved however bland and unattractive it may be to a government, hellbent on improving the image of Sweden to the most distant and unnoticeable square meter of barely marketable property.

Another image of that same art scene that's been stuck in my mind is a small almost unintelligible for the uninitiated message, just the same written in orange spray paint on concrete in uniform, yet distinctly improvised type: "Är du också likgiltig". Which roughly translates into: "Are you also indifferent?". And with the machines inevitably ploughing through refurbishing projects it's easy to see how that perceived strive for exceptionalism can be translated just as well into a statement of complete indifference towards the very personal and unashamed individuality of near-youth, the same that initially drew me here.

1 comment:

  1. What a nice tale. Having been to Norway last year and finding the locals, environment and general atmosphere to be beautiful, I think you have just inspiried me to explore Sweden some this time round!


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