Six facts about Miserabilism

The new State of Mind album – “Miserabilism” – will be out for download on December 6, 2012.
Here’s a few facts about what’s in store:

There will be bass

Ever since the first album, State of Mind has been a solo project, with yours truly (or my semi-trusty laptop – see below) performing every instrumental part. But this time, bass player Morten Barnekov Johansen has been allowed access to the studio and adds his magic to four of the songs on the album. You will not be disappointed.

There will be (more) guitar

Lashings of feedback and distorted guitars appeared on the experimental soundscapes on “Why Can’t This Noise”. And this time the guitar has become an integral part of the otherwise electronic instrumentation.
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a virtuoso on guitar – so don’t expect complex solos. But generous lashings of guitar fuzz form the base for several of the songs – echoing my love of noise pop bands like Mogwai and our semi-local Raveonettes.

Ripping off Mussorgsky

I know we live in an age of single track downloads, shuffle and individual playlists. But I still like the idea of the album format – listening to a selection of tracks in a specific order, chosen by the artist.
For a while, I toyed with the idea of making the album as one long medley – a number of songs, joined together by instrumental sections. But in the end I decided for a compromise: In between the actual songs are short, improvisational instrumentals, called “Promenades” (as an hommage to Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, who used the exact same idea in his “Pictures at an Exhibition”).
The first of these is based on the signals used on the Subways of Tokyo. Thanks to my friend Nikolaj Fisker for bringing these to my attention.

Crashed and crashed again

When the laptop is your studio, of course computer crashes is your greatest fear.
After a particularly harsh winter in my studio in the country, a burst water pipe destroyed the laptop I was making this album on.
I immediately bought a new laptop, managing to salvage all files from the old hard drive, allowing me to put out the single “The Familiar Feeling” earlier in 2012.
I resumed work on the album, but a few months later – for no apparent reason – the new laptop broke down. The verdict: A faulty hard drive.
Amazing, I once again managed to retrieve all my work – and worked fast to get “Miserabilism” finished for release.
(I doubt that it would have survived a third crash)

The song I wrote twice

I usually start songs by writing the melodies. Only later – and with much effort – do I add the final lyrics. So imagine my surprise when I uncovered a file on my hard drive with the entire, fully-formed lyrics for a song called “How Can Anyone”.
I probably had some kind of melody line in mind when I wrote it – but at the time of rediscovery, I had no recollection of what it might have been. So – I had to write a new melody – thus making “How Can Anyone” the first song I’ve written twice.

The monk by the sea

After wallowing in various kinds of misery throughout State of Mind’s career, I thought “Miserabilism” would be both precise and refreshingly ironic. (Actually, I believed to have ripped it off from a Pet Shop Boys song – but apparently, they weren’t even the first to coin the phrase)
When considering ideas for cover design, I remembered what is probably my favourite work of classic western art: “The monk by the sea” by the German romantic, Casper David Friedrich. Whenever I’m in Berlin (which is several times a year), I try to find the time to visit the Alte Nationalgalerie to gaze in awe at this brilliant painting. And it struck me as a fitting illustration of the album title.
Of course, the dimensions of the original painting doesn’t easily fit the square format of an album cover. But my brilliant designer Lucyna Lisek managed to come up with a solution – letting you enjoy the unique mood of this enigmatic work.

“Miserabilism” will be out for download and streaming December 6, 2012. Check the official State of Mind website for available options.

Some info on the upcoming album

My third full-length State of Mind album (or the fifth release, if you count EPs as well) is scheduled for release in the fall of 2012. And the upcoming single – due within the next month – should give you an idea of what to expect.

While the songs still explore the darker corners of the human psyche, there is a heightened sense of urgency to the overall mood. And the electronic soundscapes now feature more guitars than ever before.

I’m far from being a virtuoso guitarist – but working with synthesizers for decades, my work has very much been about creating and juxtaposing sounds. And to me, the distorted guitar works well as a different sound source, adding new overtones to the otherwise electronic arrangements.

Together, the guitars and the slightly more uptempo beats have slightly shifted the general sound towards noise pop and Krautrock – although the electro-pop element remains strongly at the core.

The single will feature two songs from the upcoming (as yet untitled) album and a bonus track.

The songs are “The Familiar Feeling”, a strangely brooding track in triple time (originally meant for a yet to be finished album of songs all in 6/8 time) and “When I’m Gone” – more upbeat and rocking, yet somehow understated song about mortality.

The bonus track will be Aerphax‘ both bouncing and ambient remix of “Almost Like You Died” from last year’s “I Can’t Help Myself“.

Next release: Importance of the Work at Hand

A few words about my upcoming release, which is based on the writings of American engineer, pilot, film director and billionaire Howard R. Hughes.

In the later part of his life, the Hughes developed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Due to this condition (which was not diagnosed in his lifetime), Hughes insisted on rigorous and often bizarrely complicated procedures for even the most mundane tasks. He communicated these demands to his aides through a great number of handwritten memos, collectively known as the “Operations Manual”.

“Importance of the Work at Hand” is a song cycle based solely on excerpts from these original memos.

My last couple of releases have been download only, but I wanted to make this one a bit special. And so, “Importance of the Work at Hand” will be released as a limited edition cd in a specially designed box, containing 13 printed cards with lyrics and original photos by Steen Tronsgaard.

The album will also be available for download on iTunes and other leading digital stores.

“Importance of the Work at Hand” is released November 7, 2011.
Pre-release party at Rust, Copenhagen, Denmark on Thursday November 3, 2011 at 8.00 pm.

Support a worthy cause

My good friends in the synth band Polyfon recorded a charity single, invited me to participate – and the finished release is out now.

The song “Lonely Lives” is designed to raise our awareness of the famine disaster in East Africa. Please have a listen and donate as much as you can. Thanks in advance for your support.

(My contribution to the song was merely the vocoder tracks and a few assorted noises. See if you can guess which…)

New free download: “Art”

Off the seven-track release “I Can’t Help Myself” comes this free mp3 download: “Art”. And no – the title doesn’t lie – the song actually deals with the nature of art itself. Which is either refreshingly bold – or too pretentious for its own good. You decide.

Get “Art” here:

I Can’t Help Myself

… is the double-edged title of the latest seven-track State of Mind release, available for download since May 1 (select your vendor here).

When I began writing the songs that that would later become Myotonic, I didn’t have any particular theme in mind. As the (downbeat, introspective) theme emerged, a lot of the songs didn’t fit in with the concept – and were left unfinished while I concentrated on the songs that did.

It is the best of those sketches and unfinished songs that have now been reworked into six of the seven songs that make up I Can’t Help Myself. The only exception is “Heart of a Cowboy” which is a brand new song written especially for this release.

While the subjects are as thoughtful as those on Myotonic, the mood is probably a bit lighter and the melodies a  bit more catchy. You decide.

(And of course, I’m already hard at work on the next couple of releases)