A Camp first drew breath in a forest in Northern Sweden, neck deep in snow, in the waning of the last millenium, amongst families of foxes.
It began as a collaborative effort between two Swedish humans – pop star and former figure skater Nina Persson, whose band The Cardigans had seen crazy success in the roaring ’90s, and Niclas Frisk, a sonic wanderer who had himself enjoyed pop stardom with his band Atomic Swing. In common was a love for classic American music, and a melancholy both universal and somehow highly specific to the Scandinavian psyche.
It was imported maple syrup, chickory coffee, and the around-the-clock blackness that is the Swedish winter that fueled the first stage of A Camp recording sessions, those that would eventually evolve into the self-titled A Camp debut record.
The duo recorded a collection of songs, and the project was suspended while they attended to other matters. In Nina’s case, it was another Cardigans album (Gran Turismo) and tour. Niclas moved on to a temporary foyer into profane gospel music. Also on the cards for Nina was a move to New York City with future-husband and fellow rocker Nathan Larson, an American film composer who had known some modest success in the ’90s with his band Shudder To Think.
After a span of about three years, Nina choose to saddle up again with A Camp. Listening to the earlier sessions, she found them wanting for a certain frailty.It was with this in mind that she picked up the phone and rang indie superhero Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, asking him to produce future A Camp recordings. Mark, at home on his ranch in rural Virginia, quietly accepted this task, changed the oil in his truck and drove north.
Recordings for the first A Camp record took place in the Fall, in Woodstock, New York, at the now-dufunct Bearsville studio. Work took place in a barn. Deer loitered on the lawn. Nathan played bass. Kevin March (Dambuilders, Shudder To Think, Guided By Voices) played drums. Mark made spooky noise, drove his Motoguzzi, and engaged in target practice. Nina sang, chain smoked, and read books on dream interpretation. Niclas flew in and played guitar like a hero, despite having sustained massive aural damage that obliged him to wear industrial ear protection. A small parade of indie rockers, members of Mercury Rev, Joan of the future Joan As Police Woman, came through and contributed their talents.
The resultant album was released in 2001 in Europe, where it was a considerable success, and a significant hit in Nina and Nic’s home territory of Scandinavia. A Camp toured extensively on the strength of the single ‘I Can Buy You’. Nina’s touring band included members of Soundtrack Of Our Lives as well as the above mentioned studio players. The album was awarded 4 Swedish Grammies, and met with much critical praise abroad and stateside, despite the record’s availability only on import. And that was that, for the time being.
In late 2007, for no particular reason, A Camp was taken out of storage. This time around, what the first album had been to the country the second was to the urban back-alley, past and present. Times had changed the cast a bit; Niclas had recently made the move to New York, went nocturnal, bought a top hat and a moleskin overcoat and commenced floating about the lower eastside. Nathan and Nina had moved uptown to Harlem. This time around, the approach was more that of a proper band, and the NYC recording sessions were swift and efficient, buffered by Nathan’s increased involvement, who at this point was a highly accomplished film composer, and brought all his skills in the area to bear. Added to this Kevin March’s supercharged drumming, despite or due to his newfound stay-at-home dad status. Joan Wasser, Nikolai Dunger, James Iha and other notables once again rounded out the cocktail.
If the first record was a mash up of americana and minimalist eclecticism, Colonia draws from a wider set of colors, drawing on historical imagery, from the opium den to the Belgian Congo, from the Namibian desert by starlight to Victorian New York by gaslight, and the Bowery of the ’70s by neon.
If the debut album wore an air of wood, hickory and snow, Colonia is electricity, wig powder, and laudanum.
A very particular perfume; Eau d’ COLONIA.
“Piercing vocals framed by lusciously atmospheric arrangements – as emotionally and rich as The Cardigans at their loveliest”
“Colonia is where artistic integrity meets pop conviction in a curious, deranged yet compelling sing-along”
“Rich, beguiling stuff” 8/10
“Persson strikes gold with siren calls worthy of the last ,desperate. Doom-laden Abba albums”