Like so many other bands the Stockholm duo Skriet came about by random chance. About two years ago the two friends Isak Sundström and Jacob Frossén sat in an attic space and played about, creating songs. They did not have a plan. They only had an electric guitar, a synthesizer and a big timpani. But despite their limited resources they managed to create rich sounding music.
– It was the limitations that led to us sounding the way we do, Jacob says. We didn’t have any other instruments and that thinking came with us into the studio. Instead of cymbals we used an old oven tray for example.
The duo’s reductionistic methods finally resulted in a self-titled debut album which is released on the eminent record label Novoton at the end of the summer. The album is a suggestive fatal story, which minimalistic arrangement – lonely drum, guttural synthesizer, electric guitar and Isak’s simple but ambiguous lyrics – create an electric tension.
Why do you call yourselves Skriet (The cry) when you make such unobtrusive music?
– The name is supposed to be some kind of combination of violent and beautiful but at the same time a bit funny, Isak explains.
But what then is the difference between a cry and a scream?
– A cry, it is a type of cliché image of the western angst.
And with that considered it is interesting that the duo’s name brings your mind to Edward Munch’s famous painting (The Scream which in Swedish is called Skriet). Munch was a tormented man who with sharp brush strokes and strongly contrasting nuances portrayed both his own and the modern man’s existential anguishes.
– Yes, it is not that we want to directly refer to that painting, Isak says, but it is still quite funny since is shows a pathway at sunset, something that should be beautiful but still isn’t.
Munch painted to vent his anxieties. Does that resonate with you?
– It sounds a bit pompous to say that you make music to release your anxieties, and I can’t say that I walk around with that much anxiety either, but of course it is some kind of channel for getting things out. Or what do you think Jacob? Is everything we do strictly mechanical?
– No, really not! He laughs.
And while we are name-dropping high brow cultural references: in their somewhat strange press release Skriet presents themselves by retelling a scene from Terrence Mallick’s classic road movie Badlands. In the said scene Kit and Holly, the madly in love couple, walks on a beach when Kit (who later on in the film goes berserk and murder heaps of people) picks up a stone and suggests that they crush their hands with it, so that they will never forget this particular day.
Why this particular scene in this particular film?
– It is the same thing we talked about earlier, Jacob says.
– Yes, Isak agrees. It is very romantic and violent at the same time. And then we thought that our music is a bit like that as well.
Munch’s contrasts, Mallick’s brutal love story and Skriet – the common nominator is the meeting of opposites, of black and white, beautiful and violent. And that connection is also found in the meeting between a threatening rumbling drum and fragile melodies, it is sensed in the subdued atmosphere, it enters when the music produces fantasies about burning through the Mojave desert in a beige Volvo 740 under thundering storm clouds, when a rusty Telecaster accompanies songs in Swedish about being executed in the name of love.
– I guess I should say something beautiful about love, Isak sighs, but the fact is that it can feel like a fucking lashing. The feeling of love can be quite close to that nauseating cry.
Translation: Marie Lindström