Frida Hyvönen Gives You: Music from Drottninglandet
The second in Frida Hyvönen’s series of experimental works was carried out in 2009 in collaboration with photographer Elin Berge, whose exhibition Drottninglandet documents a region in northeastern Sweden that’s home to a number of women who’ve moved there from Thailand to live with Swedish men. Berge describes the project as “a narrative of longing, and the dream of a better life,” as these women leave “the Kingdom” (Thailand) for “Queen Country” (Drottninglandet).
As Hyvönen seeks a musical language for this narrative, she produces, oddly enough, a personal, intuitive, imaginative music, as if her best way to her ostensible subjects is via spiritual communion. This might be what she meant when she said these collaborative works could employ a “new, foul language.” Drottninglandet shows a new side of her, the bedroom recording artist, or a semblance thereof, playing every part herself, occasionally losing herself in an intimate process. Unlike PUDEL, whose music had to support a dance performance, Drottninglandet requires nothing more than incidental music. Hyvönen’s has a pleasing looseness. The delicate feeling of the music would be lost if the compositions were too overworked. Even as she adds new instruments and skills to her resume, she calms the listener with imperfection.
The album’s ten untitled, numbered tracks contain few voices, and fewer words. The only track that’s identified by name is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” on which Hyvönen accompanies, with a variety of synthesizer tones, a music box rendering of the melody. The album might be better without it. It’s the only moment where I wonder if the artists aren’t putting words in the mouths of their subjects, selling out their hopes to a Western canon. Better is the next track, a new melody of waiting punctuated by the ceaseless tick of a clock. In her most private moments, Hyvönen has a way of discovering music that feels universally applicable to narratives of longing.