Album of the Week: Studio Barnhus Volym 1

Since 2010 the Stockholm-based label Studio Barnhus has pursued a very indefinable and eccentric approach to music. Off-kilter House and weirdo pop electronica unites the releases across their discography with label heads, Kornél Kovács, Petter Nordkvist and Axel Boman contributing regularly to the label. Releases from the likes of Baba Stiltz, Matt Karmil and Art Alfie have redefined the Swedish dance floor and beyond, bridging that extensive gap between serious club music and unequivocal guilty pleasures.

Unifying electronic beats with popular musical forms, the artists and label are an unconventional anomaly; non-conformists as a result of conforming to all the norms. There are no musical taboos in Studio Barnhus’ lexicon and the music the label proliferates avoids the pretentious and embraces instant gratification in the context of club music. This first compilation puts this into perspective with a selection of music across the label catalogue that frames these ideas in the broad scope that defines the label.

Label heads Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvist set a serene mood on the opening track as Man Tear, which floats somewhere between the composed vocal serenading of Portable wrapped in the icy sonorities of the Scandinavian electronic dialect. The track sets a tone for the rest of the compilation where a vocal phrase is never to far away and electronic textures are stretched across vast empty spaces. There’s a diverse palette to this record that really showcases the breadth of the Studio Barnhus roster.

From the haunting shoegaze House of Off the Meds to the Kornél Kovács dance floor romper “On Roofs”. Familiar names like DJ Koze, Baba Stiltz, and John Talabot naturally leave their mark on this record, but it’s the newcomers like Bella Boo and the aforementioned Off the Meds that provide a welcomed counterpoint to the dance floor. There’s something odd and eccentric about the record, but it doesn’t alienate or provoke, but rather entices.

Skewed pop references combined with mystical electronics, provide a very interesting listening experience through the course of the record and not only does it contextualise the Studio Barnhus sound, it also hints at where the label will be heading to next.