New single for Swedish electro act The Below feat. Jesper Hanning (from Ausgang Verboten)
This Friday Swedish electro musician Bo Magnusson has a new single out under the moniker The Below. It’s a two track single featuring Jesper Hanning – the vocalist from Ausgang Verboten who also sang with the gothic/post punk band The Chainsaw Zombies – and will be released via released via Accelerating Blue Fish.
Here’s the video for “Knives and Heights”.
Bo explains the tracks: “The first track on the single “Knives and Heights” evolved from a driving rhythm created by noises from scrap metal, a plastic can, and other found objects. Thereafter layer upon layer of sounds was added to build up a dark and intense soundscape. The equally ominous, and uncanny video was directed, filmed, and edited by Jesper Hanning. Even though both tracks could be described as dark and experimental the addition of Jesper Hanning’s powerful voice has given them a more accessible flair, making them almost catchy.”
Hanning describes the lyrical themes as follows: “”Knives and Heights” is all about the intensity of fear and the traumas it can cause. The verses are just little snapshots of eerie things. The chorus was inspired by something actor Cary Grant’s grandmother once told a reporter about her grandson: “He was a nervous child with two primary fears: knives and heights”. Then we just added one more fear: fluorescent lights.”
The second track “Grind Me Down” uses the same set of tools but is instead a slow, grinding song based on a distorted bass line. Bo says: “”Grind Me Down” is a very straightforward text about how we live in a time where people tend to ‘find the truth’ in filter bubbles where they seem to lose all common sense. The conclusion is always the same: the rest of us are misled fools who need to ‘educate ourselves’. The filter bubble grinds these people down while simultaneously winding them up. A dangerous combination.”
“Knives and Heights b/w Grind Me Down” is the follow up to “No Place Is Safe (feat. Aaron Sutcliffe)” – an anti-war song, with stark criticism of Israeli politics, that was supported on social media in Palestine and by Pro-Palestinian organizations. The video for the track includes authentic images from a war-torn Palestine.
About The Below
The Below is a solo project by Bo Magnusson, the sound engineer/bass player from the infamous Swedish industrial experimentalists Dr. Evil & The Boys From Below (1985-1992). A band that had a strong local following thanks to their spectacular stage performances featuring pig’s skulls, hovering washing machines, a truck load of scrap metal etc. After the band took an indefinite break in 1992 there were no plans to continue producing weird sounds. However, in 2015 things changed and a few saved objects and instruments were dusted off and slowly new noises were created under the moniker The Below. So far, The Below has released four singles: “Unarmed (An American Nightmare)”, “I’d Like to Punch Him In The Face”, “Change is Coming” and “No Place is Safe”.
Bo discusses his musical inspirations: “I have always listened to lots of different music, but if I must pick one band that has been influential it has to be Sprung aus den Wolken. They were a huge inspiration for me to start playing in a band. Not only for their music but also for their attitude. They didn’t follow any established musical rules and proved that you could create innovative music without being a virtuoso. There are of course numerous other bands and artists in several different genres that I love and respect. Far too many to mention, but here’s a few that feel relevant: Test Dept, Algiers, This Heat, Tanya Tagaq, The Pop Group and Anna Von Hausswolff. The common denominator of these bands/artists are their forward-looking, intense and critical voices combined to create socially relevant and exciting music.”
Vocalist and composer Jesper Hanning (born in 1968) is the son of jazz musician Claes Hanning and grew up in the south of Sweden. As a teenager Hanning was drawn to electronic music and the live scene in the city of Malmö. At Stadt, Hamburg Hanning found musical peers and in 1984 Ausgang Verboten (a.k.a. Random Toxy), a Kraftwerk influenced band, was formed. The group only recorded a few songs and released a demo in 1985 (later re-released as the vinyl LP “Entertainment” by German label Genetic Music) and contributed with a few tracks to a compilation of electronic music in 1988 (Synthetic Sounds from Accelerating Blue Fish).
In 1986, at the age of eighteen, Hanning was approached by Bo Magnusson, musician, musical promoter at Stadt Hamburg and founder of the record label Accelerating Blue Fish. Magnusson had taken an interest in the intense young vocalist and introduced Hanning to Eddie Wingeståhl, Mikael Forth and Charlotte Rönnström. Soon The Chainsaw Zombies, a slow-motion-psychedelia band, was formed. The group released two albums and an EP between 1987 and 1990.
Hanning played in several bands In the early 90´s: Dave the Butcher with Håkan Lidbo, Tabla Motors with Martin Axén (The Ark) and Sgt Pepsy’s Divine Quartet with Joakim Täck (producer/musician Funhouse/The Saints) and Christer Hermodsson (Biomekkanik/S.P.O.C.K). In the mid 90’s Hanning’s musical focus shifted from the dark and gritty to a sound echoing the 70’s; 10cc, Electric Light Orchestra and Sparks. Together with Eddie Wingeståhl, guitarist from The Chainsaw Zombies, Hanning formed Bradbury, a predominant live act playing music festivals like Hultsfred, Emmaboda, Arvika and Kalas.
Hanning basically retired from the musical scene around 2010. In 2014, Hanning’s wife Yessica passed away at the age of 44, and his sole priority was raising his daughter, only making a few performances in the years to come (e.g. annual concerts with the music from “Nightmare Before Christmas” or performing klezmer-versions of Joy Division/New Order songs). In 2020 Hanning and former Ausgang Verboten comrade Jörgen Abrahamsson started cooperating in Pursued by Furies and released the song “Daedalus Maze”. More songs will follow.
In 2021, 35 years after their first collaboration, Bosse Magnusson approached Hanning with a few songs. At the present Hanning is composing electronic music for the first time in 30 years. It sounds nothing like Kraftwerk.
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