Title: Hallway Waverider
Label: Morr Music
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»Hallway Waverider« is Mikko Singh’s second album for Morr Music under his Haleiwa moniker. Blending the washed-out aesthetics of dream pop with a lo-fi take on modern psychedelia, it is a fuzzy record in more than one sense. The ten songs see the multi-instrumentalist explore the sonic idiosyncrasies of analogue recording equipment while also expressing a self-assured statement by a musician who has carved out a niche for himself and feels perfectly at home in it. “This record is like me telling my teenage self that I am OK,” says Singh. “Back then, I was recording my song ideas on cassette players but held the belief that music should be recorded in an expensive studio with expensive gear in order to be real.” As it turns out however, Singh had been right from the start, having come full circle as an established artist some twenty years later.
After exploring the affordances of vintage equipment for 2019’s »Cloud Formations« LP, Singh worked with a Tascam 244 4-track cassette recorder and Tascam 388 8-track reel-to-reel recorder to transform the sounds of his vintage synthesizers, bass, the occasional guitar part, and drums supplied by Svante Karlsson for »Hallway Waverider«. By experimenting extensively with the machines’ unique sonic qualities and constantly reworking the pieces in regards to their sound signature over the course of two years, Singh has found the perfect equilibrium of electronic music and lo-fi aesthetics while navigating with ease through styles like driving surf rock, gritty garage punk and ethereal dream pop. On his new record, he seamlessly integrates these influences into anthemic yet soothing songs.
The title of the album refers to Singh’s halcyon days as a teenager spent listening to punk music and—in wintertime—skateboarding in his own bedroom. The lyrics refer to surfing as a nod to both his own experiences with riding the waves and the music genre that has provided him with inspiration throughout his career as a prolific recording artist with three solo albums under his belt. However, surfing primarily serves as a metaphor for something bigger. “It’s about things in life that are important to me; things that make me feel good and soothe the mind,” he explains. It comes as no surprise then that »Hallway Waverider« is also dedicated to a key figure in his life. “The album is an ode to my mother who passed away in 2015,” says the artist. “She made it possible for me to have a good childhood and to be able to do what I love.”
This sense of closure and being at peace with himself is also expressed in lyrics like “A sea stroll. Going slower. Feeling featherlight,” expressing a calm that perfectly mirrors the music’s steady grooves and welcoming overall feeling. Starting with the upbeat »River Park/ Sleeping Pill«; to the almost ambient, synthesizer-heavy »A Bottomless Pit«; or short, punk-inspired and bassline-driven outbursts like »Watered Down« or »Halulu Lake«; to the blissful title track that closes the album, Singh opens up a whole panorama of different moods across a broad variety of musical styles. They are connected by that rare thing: a unique musical vision expressed by an instantly recognisable sonic signature.
Title: Cloud Formations
Label: Morr Music
After the release 2015’s »Palm Trees of the Subarctic«, Singh began experimenting with his collection of vintage and analogue synthesizers, exploring different ways of using the guitar and putting an emphasis on his bass playing when composing. This proved to be a liberating change in perspective. While some of the songs on »Cloud Formations« were initially conceived in 2015, he recorded and produced the album between 2017 and 2018 in what he calls a »long and continuous process«, a fruitful time in which he reinvented himself.
Apart from some drum recordings (provided by his long-time friend Johan Nordlund of the Swedish hardcore band This Gift Is A Curse), Singh maintained full creative control of the album, tweaking the nine songs in his own Stockholm studio until every note and every tiny grain of sound was exactly where he wanted it to be. Over the course of two years, he was paying more attention than before to the subtleties of sound design and their emotive qualities. »I have experimented with different recording techniques,« he explains. »Some of the instruments were recorded with bad quality lo-fi microphones in order to get a better and more interesting soundscape.«
The result is a dense, at times psychedelic and intimate album, abundant with passion and optimism, despite its name, which may at first indicate the opposite. »The state of the world is pretty cloudy at the moment, metaphorically speaking,« Singh says. »But I wanted the album to express some kind of hope beyond that rather apocalyptic title.« This approach becomes tangible from the very first seconds of the anthemic opener »HKI -97«, a joyful marriage of jubilant synthesizer melodies, warm bass tones and Nordlund’s high-precision drumming, topped off by Singh’s freely floating vocal melodies. It’s the perfect opener for an album that is a celebration of new beginnings in every possible sense.
Between the fuzzy ambience of »Ka’a’awa Surfin’«, the title track’s hypnagogic mid-tempo grooves, to the relentless drive of »Swell« or »Crossroads«, and the eerie final track »Cold Concrete«, this album is to be understood as a celebration of different musical lives becoming one. It’s the sound of Mikko Singh opening an entirely new chapter in his career.
Label: Morr Music
2nd single from “Cloud Formations”.
Title: HKI -97
Label: Morr Music
1st single from “Cloud Formations”.
“HKI -97” is a joyful marriage of jubilant synthesizer melodies, warm bass tones and Nordlund’s high-precision drumming, topped by freely floating vocal melodies.
Title: Palm Trees Of The Subarctic
Label: This Is Forte
‘Palm Trees Of The Subarctic’ [TIF002] offers a new dimension to the sound of Haleiwa. The dreamy vocals and mellow lyrics over synthesizer ambience and overdubbed acoustic guitars. Its beautiful melodies led by rythmic drums and percussion forming a warm bliss of organic soundscape.
All songs written, performed and produced by Mikko Singh. Mainly recorded in his home studio with overdubs done at Telefonstudion in Hägersten, Stockholm. Petter Barnevik (Axe) and Johan Nordlund (This Gift Is A Curse) helped out playing drums on a couple of tracks. Elin Pöllänen played violin. Mastered by Alexander Eldefors. Cover art by Bemo Lundgren.
‘Palm Trees Of The Subarctic’ is a limited 250 vinyl release.
Order vinyl here: https://haleiwa.bandcamp.com/album/palm-trees-of-the-subarctic
7″ vinyl released on British label Sunstone Records. Written, performed, recorded and mixed by Mikko Singh. Recorded between December 2013 – April 2014. Mastered by Danny Woodward at Whitewood studios, Liverpool. Cover art by Sergi Llagostera. Photo by Mikko Singh. Sold out.
Title: Wall Of Blue Sky 7″
Label: Sunstone Records UK
Album released on Japanese label Friend Of Mine Records. Written, performed, recorded and mixed by Mikko Singh. Vibraphone and drums on “West Of The Pacific” by John Roger Olsson. Drums on “Coffee Bay” by Tobias Hurtig and Mikko Singh. Mastered by Henrik Jonsson at Masters of Audio. Artwork by Karl-Johan Svanström. Photos by Mikko Singh.
Title: Pura Vida dude
Label: Friend Of Mine Records