A.S. Swanski - European Music Maker - Krautrock Post-Punk Dark Ambient

Hartland – A Sneak Peek From My Next Album

I don’t know where Hartland came from. It’s just there. I can’t recall when I wrote it. Was it last year? Two years ago? Maybe it has been there forever.

Hartland is a sneak peak from my forthcoming album Safari. It’s quiet, with lots of space and only a few instruments. Some might call it meditative, others pastoral, krautrock or ambient. Whatever you name it, it does show a side of A.S. Swanski that differs from the dark electronics of Electro Noir, or the kaleidoskopic crime fiction pop of Deckare.

Safari IS a different album altogether. I wrote most of it while putting the finishing touch to Deckare, but musically they do not have much in common. (more…)

A.S. Swanski’s Stylophone Song

David Bowie used it on Space Oddity, and now A.S. Swanski has a new single completely recorded with a Stylophone. The title is Made In China. Just like today’s Stylophone.

Made In China is not part of the Safari project I’m hoping to finalize this summer. It’s a track that stands on its own and I wrote and recorded it right after I completed work on my Deckare album.

A couple of days after Christmas I got myself two Stylophones, the reissue of the old model and the newer beat box version. Made In China was written and recorded within a few hours after opening the boxes, using only these two machines plus my voice. The next day I made a video, and now there’s a single.

Stylophone Pocket Organ

So, what is this Stylophone thing? The original model, marketed as “pocket electronic organ”, was the first low budget synthesizer on the market. The reissue is an updated version with two more sound options. A stylus is used to generate tones from a tiny metallic keyboard. Hence, the name.

No bigger than a paperback book, it was seen as a toy instrument when it appeared in the late 1960s. But any toy can become a beast if you’re a little creative. Just take David Bowie who used the eerie sound of the Stylophone in his classic Space Oddity (and even on later tracks, including some of his most recent albums). For many years Kraftwerk performed their 1981 hit Pocket Calculator live with a Stylophone.

A few years ago Dübreq, the British manufacturer of the Stylophone, launched the Stylophone Beat Box, a drum machine that follows the original Stylophone principles.

For Tiananmen’s Tank Man

Made In China is basically an improvisation, even when it quickly became more meaningful. I was stunned by the potential of the Stylophones and loved the primitive grooves you could make with the Beat Box. The sound of the regular Stylophone is also quite special, particularly if you manipulate it with effects.

And thus, my first 2014 single was born with a raw and powerful vintage electro sound.

The lyrics are nothing but historical propaganda slogans from the Chinese government. I removed them from their original context which might pretty much spoil my chances of ever playing behind the other side of the Chinese wall but who cares. So now that’s settled, why not dedicate this song to the Tank Man of Tiananmen right away?

The Deckare Album Is Out In The Wild

It’s out: the Deckare album. And according to the first review it’s “experimental and innovative”. (more…)

Swanski Watched Russian TV

Is this about music? Maybe not. Maybe, yes.

Since A.S. Swanski‘s little family is half Russian, I could watch the Russian TV news last night. News? I saw 45 minutes of hyperaggressive propaganda films that blamed the US and Europe for about every evil in the world. Pure hatred – and almost nothing about what happened in Ukraine yesterday.

Many of the films contained only archive footage, often many years old, and were clearly prepared a long time ago.

The anchor woman spoke in a furious, obsessive manner and looked like she was ready to shoot a few Americans on her way home.  The broadcast ended with a relaxed looking Putin talking about the success of the Olympics. (more…)

Deckare Art Work Ready

The art work for the Deckare album is ready. The cd version (order before March 1st) will get a transparant dvd box since I wanted a cover that somewhat resembled a book. There will be liner notes and credits inside.

Deckare Art Work

The download comes with a square image file (stores like iTunes and Amazon don’t accept other formats).

Deckare Download

For both designs I used a photo I took a few years ago near the place where I used to live. It was a cold and wintery day, as you can see.

The woman on the back of the cd box (or should I say, dvd box?) is La Gouzel, the singer whom I collaborated with on 3 of Deckare’s 11 tracks. We took a walk that morning through a perfectly silent and almost colorless landscape where time did not seem to exist.

What Can I Do For You In 2014?

Of course, it’s too late to wish you a happy new year. But A.S. Swanski is determined to make it a happy one anyway. Yes, happiness is not a word one associates with my music, but there are many things you won’t associate with me, yet they are true. Send me a private message if you’re interested.

Now, let’s move on to my plans for 2014.

I started the year by writing a new song called Made In China. It was an interesting experiment since I only used two Stylophones to perform it. The Stylophone is a $25 mini synthesizer which is one of David Bowie‘s favorite instruments and is most famous for its appearance in Space Oddity. (more…)

The Saddest Song You’ll Hear Today

Today is Saint Lucy’s Day, and you can now celebrate it with a new A.S. Swanski song called… Saint Lucy.

Have I suddenly become a producer of devotional music? Well, not exactly. Saint Lucy is part of the Deckare project and was inspired by Illdåd (Atrocity), a rather disturbing novel written by a Swedish behavioral scientist turned crime writer called Thomas Erikson. There’s no English translation of the book yet.

The song’s intro was nicked from the traditional Santa Lucia, then it becomes a cross between ambient and pop noir. It’s a sad song, I know, but if you have read the book it was based on, you will understand why. La Gouzel – you may remember her from older A.S. Swanski songs – sings Saint Lucy and she does it damn well, if you ask me. (more…)

Folk, Blues And Old Friends

American folk and blues with a vintage sound and other traditional genres are musically pretty far removed from what A.S. Swanski does, but there are quite a few links. One is called Hewdie, another one Torc, or should I say Peet and Geertien? A post about old friends.

Some 20 years ago I was still known as Marc and played in a band (well, three bands actually) with a guy named Peet. If I remember well, the first time we talked we sat under a tree during a jazz festival and discussed the music of Television and Thin White Rope, bands we both loved. Peet was a guitarist and had just started his own group, called Digestives. It appeared, they needed a bass player and I got the job.

In the five following years Peet and I wrote dozens of songs together, first with Digestives, later with a follow-up band named Society Dog Show. Back then Peet was very much into acid rock from the American West Coast as well as 1980s psychedelia from Australia and without him I had probably never heard of people like Skip Spence or Died Pretty.

Restless Hearts

Restless Hearts with Geertien (back) and Peet (to the right). Sleeping in the middle: a young A.S. Swanski, still known as Marc.

In turn, I introduced him to some of the more modern European bands I was listening to at that moment, for example the brilliant yet underrated That Petrol Emotion – I felt that our music with Digestives bore similarities with them.  I doubt if Peet always liked the music I gave him, but somewhere there must have been a match, considering how we worked together on our own songs. (more…)

A New Old Song: The Locked Room

Sure, I took my time, but here it is: a brand new A.S. Swanski song, written for my Deckare project. It’s called The Locked Room.

Well, what is brand new? I actually recorded it two years ago, but the final mix as well as the video were delayed because there were other things that kept me busy the past few months. No worries, musical things that I will share with you in the nearby future. (more…)

Studio Swanski Saved

I’ve had a few scary days this week: when I was working on the computer I use for my A.S. Swanski recordings, I suddenly got the notorious blue screen. If you’re lucky and don’t know what this means: it’s what Windows users see when their computer crashes.

I brought the machine to a computer technician who said the hard disk was simply dead. Luckily, he could clone the disk contents and put it on a new one.

I’ve got my computer back home now. I haven’t checked everything yet, but so far it looks like nothing has been lost. Studio Swanski appears saved. What a relief. (more…)

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