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Album Review

Swedish producer Johan Agebjörn has been living a double musical life for years. On the one hand he's been behind the Italo House duo Sally Shapiro and made the excellent dancefloor confection Casablanca Nights in 2011, and on the other he's been making lush piano and synth-new age albums that revolve around nature and relaxation. It's a pretty severe case of schizophrenia, but one that he begins to reconcile on his 2014 album Notes. Mixing the warm tones of his meditative instrumental albums with the pulsing beats and tender melancholy of his work with Sally Shapiro, Agebjörn has crafted a sound that's as enveloping as a warm blanket on a cold night. Moving gracefully between instrumentals and vocal features, Notes hits a sweet spot between subtle background music and reassuringly peaceful electronic pop that you could just as easily dance to as chill out to. While the whole thing sticks in the memory after a spin or two, the tracks that are the most immediate feature vocals. Loney Dear's aching nocturnal ballad "The Leftovers" is the standout, but the wistful song featuring Young Galaxy ("You Passed Through") and the two featuring Sally Shapiro are quite beautiful, especially "The Best Thing." The instrumentals show that Agebjörn is able to meld his two worlds together with ease, mixing melodies and sounds into something exceedingly soothing and calm, and if some of the tracks lean toward the soporific, that's totally in keeping with the subdued mood of the album. Anyone looking for something quiet to help with meditation, calm them after a rough day, or ease a troubled mind while still providing something far more interesting than musical wallpaper can turn to Notes and find exactly what they are looking for.

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Gothenburg-based Swedish producer Johan Agebjörn works in a range of electronic genres, from electro-disco and house to ambient new age, but always grounds his approach in a deep appreciation for the roots and history of electronic music. He is best known as the songwriter and producer behind the anonymous synth pop chanteuse Sally Shapiro, whose acclaimed 2006 LP, Disco Romance, was a deliberate, verisimilar throwback to the Italo-disco of the early '80s -- but before the beginning of their collaboration,...
Full Bio
Notes, Johan Agebjörn
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