Johan Agebjörn: Notes (Paper Bag, 2015)

February 8, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment

Johan Agebjörn: Notes

Johan Agebjörn: Notes

Best known for his work in brilliant Italo-disco duo Sally Shapiro, Johan Agebjörn has actually been recording ambient and downtempo electronic music since the ’90s. Ambient/new age label Lotuspike released two albums of these compositions in 2008 and 2011, and Paper Bag (the label that also released Sally Shapiro’s albums) released his collaboration-heavy disco album Casablanca Nights in 2011. Notes is something new and different, creating curious, wintery electronic pop songs using Casio electric piano sounds. More than anything, this album reminds me of ’80s electronic artists such as Ray Lynch, whose music was categorized as new age but always felt more playful and melodic than most music of that genre, ending up being its own type of spectral synth-pop. This album totally captures that vibe, with songs such as “The Right To Play” and “The Boy Who Thought It Was A Good Idea To Cry” having catchy dancing-snowflake melodies using wispy synth tones (and note the slide whistle that appears halfway through “The Right To Play”!). A few songs have incidental or sampled vocals (children’s voices pop up a few times), but guest vocalists appear on a few songs as well. “The Leftovers” features Loney Dear, and “You Passed Through” has Young Galaxy living up to their name with the album’s most spacey ambient pop song. The pseudonymous vocalist Sally Shapiro makes appearances on “Careful” and “The Best Thing”, but her vocals are hushed and buried under atmospherics on “Careful”, distancing the song from the more disco-leaning tracks on proper Sally Shapiro releases. “Will They Forgive Us” and “Alpha Beta Gamma” (which flow together) are the only songs on the album with solid 4/4 beats, but on “Will They Forgive Us”, it’s still the mesmerizing synth melody that takes center stage. “Alpha Beta Gamma” brings the beats a little more up to the forefront, creating more of an ambient dance track. The whole album is incredibly sweet and it’s easily my favorite album that Agebjörn has released so far.

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  1. […] known as the producer and songwriter of the neo-italo disco project Sally Shapiro. Read a review on The Answer Is in The Beat. Recommended Tracks: The Boy Who Thought It Was A Good Idea To Cry, Careful,  Alpha Beta Gamma […]


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