EM1002 – Currents

EM 1002 Currents - front

Music by Jens Hedman & Paulina Sundin.

Jens Hedman

I often see my music as combinations of colour and form. The structure of the sounds, their movements in space and the inherent symbolism that sounds carry in our environment, inspire me to stage new musical sound worlds. Working together with other creative people has been a central feature throughout my artistic life. Combining my music with poetry, video art, dance, and installations or, as here, composing music together is very rewarding for me.

Jens Hedman composes both instrumental and electro-acoustic music. His music is frequently performed at festivals and in radio broadcasts throughout the world. Jens music has also been awarded international prizes and awards.

Paulina Sundin

For me, it is most often a sound that gets my imagination going ahead of a new composition. From the character conveyed by the sound, I then weave together a story or sound world in which I want the sound to develop. Exchanging ideas and collaborating with other artists, such as choreographers, video artists, architects, etc is fun and exciting. And to work together with another composer, as on this CD, not only makes it less lonely in the studio but is particularly fun, creative and educating.

Paulina Sundin is one of the few female composers to devote herself purely to electro-acoustic composing. Her music has been played and broadcast all over the world. She has received many awards throughout her career and in 1999 she was chosen by the Rotary Foundation to be their goodwill ambassador to England.


TITLE Currents
ARTIST Jens Hedman / Paulina Sundin
YEAR 2001
TYPE CD, jewelcase
PRICE 12 Euro



1. Crisálida, 8:48 min

CRISÁLIDA (by Paulina Sundin) is inspired by the alluring surroundings of Andalucìa del Mar in the south of Spain. As I travelled through the country, I was struck by its multi-layered beauty, how the different perspectives formed a whole: children playing in the village square, birds singing in the orange trees, dramatic vistas unfolding as an unpaved path snaked its way up the mountain side. In Crisálida I have tried to reflect musically upon its complexity and beauty.

Crisálida is ”program music” to the extent that, for me, there is an underlying story, which is told in the music. However, it is not my intention that the listener should recognize this story, instead it is up to each one to find his own story or to listen to the piece as absolute music. The raw material for the piece consists of recordings from the south of Spain and additional synthesis. The first performance of Crisálida was at a student concert at the Stockholm House of Culture in 1996; since then, it has, among other functions, represented Sweden at Sounds of Sweden in Birmingham, and was also performed together with Currents at Hey Listen, the international sound conference for acoustic ecology arranged by the Swedish Royal Academy of Music together with World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) and Stockholm European Capital of Culture 1998.

2. Relief, 11:25 min

RELIEF (by Jens Hedman) deals with music and sounds as if they were visible interacting objects, with form and shape, moving in a three-dimensional landscape before your eyes. In Relief I have tried to create an almost visual wall of sounds, where certain sounds can stand out in relief against the background of others. I have employed a compositional techniques; whereby, I have composed certain central sections and then reused them, readapted them and created yet something entirely new from these sections. In this way, the music is continuously being born out of the sounds of the music from earlier in the piece. Towards the middle of the piece, the material has been adapted so much that practically only hissing sounds remain. After a powerful outburst of hissing sounds with an abrupt end, the pure, relatively unadapted sound material returns. Slowly, a new process of adapting the sound material starts, which develops in the direction of a new and different, muted sound world.

The sound material for Relief originated in the large amount of sounds created for the piece Respirit, for percussion ensemble and tape. Respirit was first performed at the Inventionen festival in Berlin in 1993 by the percussion ensemble Kroumata. My idea is to return to this sound material after a few years in order to compose two pieces for tapes using the same material. Previously, I have always developed a new and unique sound material for each piece. With this trilogy, which I call RE-cycle, I am trying to tackle the same sound material several times and to extract something new each time. The possibilities of adapting the sounds to form new and different sounds are endless and the paths the music can take during the composition process are also endless. As I’ve waited for a few years between compositions, my music and I have had time to develop and I see the sound material with new eyes.

Relief has been performed at a large number of concerts and radio broadcasts around the world, among others at World Music Days 1998 in Manchester in the UK, ICMC 2000 in Berlin, Spring in Havana 2000, Rien – Voir in Canada in 1999, and VI Brazilian Symposium on Computer Music in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1999. The piece was also awarded first prize at the Bourges International Electro-Acoustic Music and Sonic Art Competition 2000. Relief was composed at EMS in Stockholm.

3-6. Currents, 12:32 min

CURRENTS (by Jens Hedman and Paulina Sundin) is a musical tribute to our hometown, Stockholm, portraying the flows and streams in the city from four different sound perspectives. The work also deals with the changing seasons and different times of day. It was composed at EMS in Stockholm and all the sound material was recorded in the city and its districts using a Neumann kunstkopf microphone. The first two parts were composed in 1996 and the remaining two in 1998. Each of the four sections can also be played separately as short electroclips.

The first performance of Currents was at ”Hey Listen”, the international sound conference for acoustic ecology arranged by the Swedish Royal Academy of Music together with World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) and Stockholm European Capital of Culture 1998. Since then the piece has been performed frequently at concerts and has also been used by other artists, such as the Basle Dance Company, which added choreography to the piece during ISCM World Music Days 2000 in Luxembourg. The architect NN created a visual interpretation of Currents for Galleri NN during the UNM Festival in Gothenburg in 1999. Currents is available in three different versions: 2-channel, 8-channel and 12-channel. The 12-channel version was specially made for the open-air pavilion, Elektrofonen, created by Jens Hedman and Christian H–rgren.

Elektrofonen, which is mobile, has toured Sweden and could be seen, among other places, at Stockholm Water Festival in 1999. The 8-channel version has been performed at ACMC in Wellington, New Zealand and at the Rien – Voir Festival in Canada in 1999.

7. Clandestine Parts, 8:09 min

CLANDESTINE PARTS (by Paulina Sundin) is inspired by the dreams I remember from my childhood. At times, sleep was haunted by vivid nightmares, full of fear and technicolour dread. But ever so often, like a soft whisper drowning out the noise of chanting mob, I was relieved by a purely joyful dream with a happy ending. Clandestine Parts was composed specifically for this CD. The piece willalso form the basis for a future and longer 12-channel work, specially commissioned by the Swedish National Concerts for the open-air pavilion Elektrofonen. The piece was composed in the electronic music studio at University of East Anglia and at EMS.

8. Mix-Up, 8:20 min

MIX-UP (by Jens Hedman) – 500 sounds in 500 seconds, fragments from my favourite music – pieces which have formed my compositional aesthetics, combined to form a web of gestural and rhythmic expressivity.

In this piece I have given full reign to my love of gestural attacks and the use of a very large number of sounds as collaborating building blocks in this composing. The raw material comes from music that has meant much to me, music which I have listened to again and again and that has become a part of my unconscious. This music has surely shaped my musical language. I thought it would be interesting to use fragments of this music as the raw material for my own composition. I chose 500 short sections from a large number of pop, jazz, and rock songs as well as classical pieces and contemporary music. I then transformed them so that they could not be traced to the originals too easily. Each sound also had its own acoustic space and movements in the stereo image. Using these 500 building blocks, I started to compose a piece that hurls itself back and forth between order and confusion. As I listened to a large number of my old favorite records, composing this piece also became a review of my life. Each little clip of music carries memories; here, these memories have met up, mixed and joined together into a non-linear flow of images.

I composed Mix-up with the intention of making it a good piece for diffusion at concert performances. Diffusion entails interpreting and performing electro-acoustic music live at concerts using multiple speakers positioned throughout the audience. In this way, like a conductor, the diffuser can add spatial movements and emphasize certain sections through dynamic and spacial variations. I have tried to create a piece that opens the door for such interpretations and hope that this piece can be varied through diffusion, just as a piece of instrumental music can be interpreted and varied by musicians. Mix-up was composed during the summer of 2000 at my holiday house using my own portable studio.

9. Reflections, 9:00 min

REFLECTIONS (by Paulina Sundin and Jens Hedman) is based on our earlier piece, Inside Round, which was made for computer animated video and EAM. Like the earlier piece, Reflections is a symbolic journey, a reflection of life, travelling from birth towards death and purity. Reflections was composed for a concert tour with the theme Life and Death, visiting churches around Sweden in 1999. The piece is also available in 8 and 12-channel versions and these have been performed at, among other places, the Rien – Voir Festival in Canada in 1999.




Currents is a collection of important pieces from the careers of two internationally acclaimed Swedish electro-acoustic composers, Paulina Sundin and Jens Hedman. The majority of them are classical music -based avant-garde compositions in which minute changes create larger elements. A deviation from that template is Hedman’s clever Mix-up (written in 2000), in which he has according to his own words played ”500 sounds in 500 seconds”. It is essentially a mixture of short clips from the artist’s favorites (designed to be played from different speakers in a hall), and manages an amazing change from a complete mess to effective minimalist noise. The album has two other gems as well, namely Hedman’s drone-based Relief and Sundin’s Clandestine Parts, in which a group of tiny dissonant noises join into a beautiful, ethereal ambience. All in all, Currents well showcases how brilliant results can be acquired when artists fuse the best parts from several different genres of experimentation. Every track on it is excellent, and works as an example of music where free-spirited experimentation and classical attention to details flawlessly fuse together. The package is perfected by the album’s gorgeous liner, extremely informative in its minimalism – just like the music itself.
Very highly recommended.

Jiituomas, Kuolleen Musiikin Yhdistys


It is always a very pleasant occurrence when an unexpectedly beautiful CD comes your way. It is even more pleasing when the CD happens to feature electroacoustic music, since rumors forecast the idiom’s imminent death, due to lack of energy and general vitality and too much access to too much machinery. I’ve suggested, for many years, that the common access to software is an obstacle in the creation of electroacoustics, unless some kind of filter – censorship, if you will (on the part of the recording company) – discriminates between the shallow, dilettante etudes of untalented people with computers, and talented, creative artists who can do without computers if needed, but make good use for them if they have them… Computer software can constitute wonderful tools in the hands of a true artist – a creative person – but just a mess of good-for-nothing binary information in the studios of people who mistake the means for the end.

Luckily – it makes me really glad! – it seems that talent really has come through this time, on this wonderful CD from Elektron with electroacoustic wizards of a new generation; Paulina Sundin and Jens Hedman, presented on this CD with individual works as well as collaborations. You’re in for a raving review!

Of course, there are some major EAM composers working in Sweden, like Rolf Enström, Åke Parmerud, Anders Blomqvist, Tommy Zwedberg, Pär Lindgren and others, but they’ve been around long, and we welcome a younger generation to join them on the Mount Parnassus of electroacoustics! At least it’s nice not to have to resort solely to the old giants, like Bernard Parmegiani, François Bayle, Jacques Lejeune, Michel Chion, Jean Schwarz and Francis Dhomont, to mention a few… There is something going on in Stockholm these days, and Elektron Records seems to have a feel for this. It is not purely by chance that I mentioned so many French composers above. The finest electroacoustic music – the really poetic stuff – is created in France and… Sweden! If this has to do with many contacts between the GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales) and IRCAM in Paris on the one hand, and EMS and Fylkingen in Stockholm on the other hand, I don’t know – but the poetry is there in Swedish and French (and French-Canadian) electroacoustic music, whereas the electroacoustics that come out of the U.S.A. is pretty shallow and almost… stillborn! (with exceptions!). (There is a new, collage-kind of contemporary sound-experiments going on in the U.S.A. these days – wonderfully inventive – featuring artists like Rotcod Zzaj (Dick Metcalf), Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Jeff Kaiser, Matthew Ostrowski, Erik Belgum and others, and in that field America is in the forefront!)

Paulina Sundin kicks things off on this CD with track one; “Crisálida” (1996), and holy smoke; talk about a French opening! Here we have rippling water in the right channel, playing children in the left, and then this tone, full of overtones, sneaking up on you, taking over, hovering, vibrating – sawing right down through your skull… like a forced thought that you cannot escape… or like a ray of enlightenment from some otherworldly source of inspiration… This opening makes me think of Jean-Claude Risset and some of his pieces, like “Songes” or maybe particularly “Sud”. Even “Presque rien” (the series of works by that name) and “Petite symphonie intuitive pour un paysage de printemps” by Luc Ferrari spring to mind on hearing Paulina Sundin’s light and precise and intuitive touch. This may seem too much praise to take, but I recognize talent when I hear it, and here it is! Paulina Sundin is – even internationally – a full-fledged composer of electroacoustics by now, which this CD proves. Congratulations to Paulina, and congratulations to Swedish EAM!

The sounds are very delicate, smooth, but with an edge, and also a spatial quality, enlargening the space of your listening room, lifting off the roof, folding down the walls, letting the wind carry far off scents to your vicinity, giving you a sense of weightlessness, of relaxed attention, as you let it happen, let it happen… The smoothness is broken up by close-up percussive sounds, as layers of different events shift position like ice floes of spring climbing up on top of each other.

Jens Hedman continues on track 2 with his piece “Relief” (1996), which has the bulging, smooth and dainty feel in common with Paulina Sundin’s piece before. There is a French feeling to this too, or a Pär Lindgren feeling… By that I mean the technique of letting a deep, distant, ominous long, outstretched (eternal?) sound hover – oscillate – close to the horizon, while small sounds of short durations granulate, vibrate, pop like soda – right in your face! Jens Hedman lets a massive web of sounds frighten you some, as knives dance in threatening psycho-kinetics right in front of your nose, very close to your nose-tip… Is he trying to make contact with the newly deceased in their Bardo state? The spatial events here almost freak you out at times, left-right-left-right in a fast – but decreasing – motion, as if you heard the sound of a spinning coin in the middle of your head, the left-most passage in your left ear and the right-most passage in your right… I’m hearing this over earphones, so that effect gets really spooky, I can tell you. This is clever electroacoustics, walking the razor’s edge, heading for some kind of catharsis… You name it – we like it!

About nine minutes into Hedman’s piece things get really hectic, and you can compare that passage with some passages out of Leo Kupper’s “Litanea” or Gabriel Poulard’s “La Mémoire des Pierres” – but something about Hedman’s music also points in the direction of British EAM gurus Alistair Macdonald and Andrew Lewis. Don’t misunderstand me; Jens Hedman is a composer in his very own right – I’m only trying to connect, find lines of evolution and possible influences, and different veins of electroacoustics. (I didn’t study ethnology for nothing!) You may already have guessed that Paulina Sundin’s and Jens Hedman’s electroacoustics fit me perfectly, really reassuring me in my notion of something good going on in Stockholm!

Tracks 3 through 6 make up the title work; “Currents” (1998) – a joint effort by the gifted composers Sundin and Hedman. There is a sub-title to this piece; “Traffic – Water – Nature – City”, which sounds a lot like programmatic music. Is it? Well, yes, in a way – but only slightly, giving a hint, an idea, a direction. There is some traffic, highly spatial, wonderfully spatial – and maybe – maybe – bicycle spokes being plucked… It sure moves, anyway, in delicate, very clean sounds, delicacies. These sounds are like chocolate candies in colored wrappings; wrappings in clear colors: stark blue, overwhelmingly green, Buddha-golden, Antarctica-silver. This package is full of goodies for the ear and for the imagination, and I just keep on getting more and more impressed! I probably have the darnest collection of electroacoustics in Northern Europe, and this CD comes out on top together with a few select others. Not bad!

The sheer intensity of the event between 1:45 and 1.56 on track 4 calls for extra honors, no doubt! This couple really does work well together! A little later it gets enchanted, silvery, forest hazy, with elves and fairies fluttering about in the meadows. This is John Bauer music for a while. Magic! Man, it doesn’t get better than this – this is as good as it comes! I’m going to play this DC a lot! When I get enthusiastic I get – enthusiastic! The nature part of “Currents” is no simple forest sampler! It gets darn sophisticated!

Paulina and Jens do not have anything more to learn from the wizards at Groupe de Recherches Musicales. They got so much poetry and so much technical skill to get it across that it bends me over and turns me around… Wow! This is outrageous! The sheer composition of it all is magnificent. It doesn’t matter if you have all the machinery and all the sounds, if you don’t have a compositional idea. These guys do! They mix these wondrous sounds into an overwhelmingly beautiful and interesting – imaginative – web! The only other CD that immediately comes to mind in connection with this one is the double CD ”L’illusion acoustique” by Marc Favre on the GMVL label (Groupe Musiques Vivantes Lyon) (GMVL CD 014/15)

Track 7 – “Clandestine parts” (2000) – is Paulina Sundin’s second solo piece. I don’t have any more superlatives left, but if I did I’d unload them here. A whole dump truck of honors would be appropriate. Paulina has me under a spell, I do believe… The ambiguous title relates back to childhood dreams of Paulina, and the vivid soundscapes could well transform into dreamscapes – but that is true of most events on this Elektron CD. Sonic Poetry is back – Paulina Sundin is its figurehead, its beautiful princess! Jens Hedman is its gallant knight! “Fearless ahead!”, as Stockhausen sometimes concludes his letters!

“Mix-up” (2000) is Jens Hedman’s second solo flight. The piece is what the title suggests, a mix – of Hedman’s favorite musics, which have formed his compositional aesthetics, as he says in the CD inlay. These kinds of ventures usually fall flat, but even though this is the least intriguing of the otherwise fantastic pieces on this CD, it still is well composed, cleverly constructed.

The last piece on this – I dare say – revolutionary new EAM CD from Elektron, is again a collaboration between young composers Paulina Sundin and Jens Hedman; “Reflections” (1999). Now, could it be that these guys are aware of the Bardo Thödol – The Tibetan Book of the Dead –, which has lately evolved dramatically through Western minds like Karlheinz Stockhausen and others, dispersing spiritual awareness far and wide? Could it be? The description of the work in the CD leaflet reads: “Reflections is a symbolic journey through life, traveling from birth to death and disappearing into a tranquil pureness…” Now, nothing is mentioned of a rebirth, but it sort of lingers at the end of the sentence… Anyhow, the music is really wasting me, with drone-like horizons of deep sounds and fast, curly and sharp movements right in front of my eyes, like occasional wind shield wipers in a heavy rain on the road from Särkisalmi to Parikkala and a love so strong by Lake Saimaa in medio of June that even Väinömöinen’s passion for the elusive Aino grows pale in comparison… He who has ears, let him hear…

I have been through – on this CD – a wondrous fairytale adventure of enchanted events and violet dreams, in a luminous preview of the Bardo state of the hereafter, and it all ends with that straight line on the electrocardiogram, when the spirit has left through the Brahma opening on top of the skull, and is floating out like the spirit of the old man in John Holm’s legendary song “Ett enskilt rum på Sabbatsberg” (“A Private Room at Sabbatsberg”) (A Stockholm hospital).

I am grateful for this sound art of Paulina Sundin and Jens Hedman. It has been much more than could ever have been expected. This is the electroacoustic CD of the year for an EAM aficionado like myself!