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When Drakkar Nowhere rows itself out toward the exploratory sonic sea upon which their debut album so gracefully sails, it’s not just that their destination is undefined; it’s that the very concept of a destination, as reflected in their music, is itself something indefinable. Drakkar Nowhere capture the wind in their sails with a sound that’s boundless, expansive and, perhaps, guided only by the light of the sun and stars.
That Drakkar Nowhere ended up somewhere at all is itself more a result of circumstance than careful course-charting. The history of the album traces back to the summer of 2012, when Daniel Collás (Phenomenal Handclap Band) and Morgan Phalen (Favored Nations, Diamond Nights) found themselves creating new music in the kitchen of a rented apartment in Stockholm, Sweden. Their new project caught the ears of nearby musicians, including members of Dungen and The Amazing, and before long, this extended family of international musicians were recording the songs that would firmly put them on the path to nowhere – Drakkar Nowhere, that is.
Both Collás and Phalen took inspiration from their Swedish surroundings – in particular, the enchanted forests that surround the neighborhoods of Bagarmossen and Midsommarkransen. And given the talents and histories of the collaborating musicians, it’s no surprise that the ever-evolving shadow of what we might broadly call Swedish psychedelia should perfume the proceedings as well. Collás and Phelan also took the recordings to New York and Los Angeles, where new surroundings and influences could intertwine into the musical flora and fauna. When in LA, the band even got a hero of theirs, unsung 70s singer-songwriter Ned Doheny, on board for “Higher Now.” Some light was recently shed on Doheny’s music from the 70s when Numero Group released the Doheny compilation Separate Oceans a couple years back. To those who have discovered his fantastic body of work, his warm, breezy Malibu vocals are instantly recognizable on “Higher Now.”
One thing is surprising – and what makes the Drakkar Nowhere album one that benefits from repeat listens – is how unobtrusive all of these influences are on the album’s ultimate sound. Drakkar Nowhere present a combination of influences – cosmic jazz, syrupy soul and mutated prog among them – in such an effortless manner that they don’t really feel like “influences” at all. As a result, Drakkar Nowhere have built an album that may have listeners ears recalling the crystalline harmonies of the Brothers Gibb more often than it does Träd, Gräs and Stenar.
No destination, no influences – just nowhere. And in the hands of Drakkar Nowhere, it’s clearly the place to be. – Ryan Muldoon