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May 05/21/21, 2021
ARTEFACT by Johan Agebjörn & Mikael Ögren is a new album of electronic music inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s Sci-Fi Novel Rendezvous with Rama. Johan Agebjörn is a Gothenburg-based Swedish producer who works in a range of electronic genres, from electro-disco and house to ambient new age, but always grounds his approach in a deep appreciation for the roots and history of electronic music. Agebjörn had been largely focused on ambient electro productions inspired by fellow Scandinavians like Krister Linder and Biosphere.

Mikael Ögren is a Swedish synthesizer musician heavily influenced by electronic pioneers such as Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jarre, as well as '90s trance innovators Jam & Spoon. A priest by profession, he's been active as a musician mostly as a hobby until he began collaborating with Agebjörn during the mid-2010s.

In 2017 Agebjörn and Ögren released an ambient album on Spotted Peccary Music called We Never Came To The White Sea, a soundtrack to an unedited roadmovie through Russian Karelia, where Agebjörn's grandfather was born, when it belonged to Finland.

Agebjörn and Ögren have now created their second collaborative release, Artefact, also on the Spotted Peccary Music label, also employing vintage synthesizers (Gear: Access Virus Indigo II, Alesis Micron, Clavia Nord Lead 2, Kurzweil K2000, Novation Supernova, Propellerheads Reason 11 with Korg MonoPoly, Roland DJ-70, Roland JD-800, Roland JP-8000, Thoraiz AS-1, Waldorf Blofeld, Yamaha AN1x) which blend into the ethereal atmospherics and electronic sounds of a classic sci-fi soundtrack, enjoying styles ranging from ambient to trance.

An artifact might be defined as an object produced by human craft, of archaeological or historical interest. After a series of devastating meteor strikes on Earth, project SPACEGUARD began collecting data about all incoming objects that could be observed. One day, in the year 2131, an object that looked big was detected, heading past Jupiter in the general direction of Earth. This new object was soon named Rama, after the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, The Sustainer. As Rama came closer it was apparent that it was not a solid object, it was hollow, 20 kilometres (12 mi) in diameter and 50 kilometres (31 mi) long, and almost completely featureless. The spaceship Endeavour was sent out to encounter this rapidly approaching gigantic enclosed spinning hollow object.

Artefact is an adventure in electronic music that pays tribute to a classic science fiction diegesis, a story that raises more questions than provides resolutions, which is the best way to write a book. Who made the cylinder? Why did they make it? Where is it going and what will it do once it gets there? Most of the chronicle assumes that Earth is somehow part of the mission of the mysterious craft, at the end of the novel the artifact just whizzes by, and Earth was only a blink on the way past. The sounds are pure electronica, beats and sweeps, beeps and melodies, with lots of awesome effects. Imagine that you are falling slowly through wind and darkness, there are colored lights and extraterrestrial vehicles swaying and moving to the music. We are traveling through the melancholy of a long journey in the cosmos, the feeling is bittersweet and positive, the sound is dreamy and electronic with lots of sustained echoes and glowing atmospheres, decorated with a beating pulse in most places and just soaring with no limits in other places. It works well for dreaming as well as for launching your voyages into deep fantasy, experiencing science fiction stories.

I asked Mikael Ögren how this new project came about. "After the release of our first album ”We Never Came To The White Sea”, I almost felt like being in a creative vacuum, an emptiness where I didn´t find any inspiration. The summer of 2018, I was on a trip to the greek island Korfu and, like I usually do, I brought some books to read – including Arthur C. Clarkes well known sci fi novel ”Rendezvous With Rama”. It is funny I never read it before, since I´m a huge fan of several of his other books. It was kind of a surrealistic sensation, lying there, in the gazing sun by the blue, Mediterrianean sea and practically being sucked into the dark, otherworldly, futuristic and mystical environment that surrounds the Rama novel. And ”BAM!”, it struck me almost immediately, by reading the first pages – this is it. This is our next project. Man, I could practically hear the atmospheric sounds and harmonies! I would even dare calling it an epiphany (after all I´m also an ordained priest, haha). As soon as I got home I called Johan and told him that we just had to do this. And as he also read the novel, he totally agreed. And after all it´s pretty original isn´t it, creating a soundtrack for a novel."

Three tracks from the highly-anticipated album scored exclusive previews on music culture outlets Resident Advisor, Obscure Sound and Vehlinggo. The album released today on Spotted Peccary Music; music fans can listen, view or purchase the music on the platform of their choice at https://orcd.co/artefact

“This has been such an exciting journey from the beginning 'til the end,” says Ögren. “The first visions and sensations that unfolded as I laid on a beach on a sunny Greek island, reading Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C Clarke’s astonishing masterpiece.”

Artefact also features collaborations with a fellow Spotted Peccary recording artist Stefan Strand (aka Between Interval) and independent musician Johan Emmoth (aka Le Prix), as well as ethereal soprano vocals by Martina Björk.

“Stefan Strand is an old friend of mine,” explains Agebjörn. “This is the first time we have collaborated on an original track. I love his music.” He continues, “Johan Emmoth is a talented musician who I got to know when we made a few tracks and remixes together in disco/synthwave style, but this is more ambient/experimental than the earlier ones.”

Martina Björk -- a friend of Ögren -- is a soprano singer with a PhD in Latin. He says, “She managed to catch the very special, kind of sacred, ancient feeling and combined it with the almost melancholic, sad sense of abandonment that saturates the very moment of the Rama story that this song is trying to depict."

The audience is beckoned to join the brave space expedition inside the artefact, revealing the inner landscapes and prompting the imagination of the listener. Despite the heavy use of synths of the '90s, the whole album carries more of a timeless character than their previous album, covering different styles and images from the '70s, '80s, '90s, and even an echo from the 18th and 19th century through Björk’s beautiful soprano voice.

"The main reason why Rendezvous With Rama attracted me to such an extent, was that the main theme seems to be the encounter with the otherworldy, the very Other, the big unknown," explains Ögren.

On June 11, 2021, a "Space Travel" EP is planned for release, with three electronic remixes. Explore independent album reviews and video premieres of Artefact at the sites below:

"Monitoring the Zooids" on Resident Advisor: https://ra.co/reviews/33759

"Space Travel" on Vehlinggo: https://vehlinggo.com/2021/05/20/agebjorn-ogren-space-travel/

"Static Air" on Obscure Sound: https://www.obscuresound.com/2021/04/premiere-johan-agebjorn-mikael-ogren-static-air/

Artefact was mastered by Howard Givens, and is available for physical purchase in CD format and in 24-BIT AUDIOPHILE, CD QUALITY LOSSLESS, MP3 and streaming formats. The CD version of Artefact arrives in a factory sealed 6-panel gatefold package that includes vibrant artwork, liner notes, a 4-page booklet, with illustrations (front, back and sketches) by Kilian Eng, and package design by Daniel Pipitone.

Tracklist:
1. Extravehicular Activity
2. Passing the Gates (with Between Interval)
3. The Plain
4. The Storm That Passed
5. Flight Over the Sea
6. Static Air
7. Octapod (with Le Prix)
8. Monitoring the Zooids
9. The Hall of Crystals (with Martina Björk)
10. Interplanetary Threat
11. Space Travel
12. Final Sight

Links:
Spotted Peccary Album page: https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/artefact/
Smartlink to major platforms: https://orcd.co/artefact
Album Unboxing Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWzlX923GuM
Spotted Peccary Artist page: https://spottedpeccary.com/artists/johan-agebjorn/
Bandcamp: https://ambientelectronic.bandcamp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spottedpeccary/
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/spottedpeccary
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