We get sent a lot of music. All bloggers do. Most of it is utter rubbish, or entirely inappropriate for our tastes, but on the odd occasion something aligns perfectly with our quality controls and it gets on The Recommender. The majority of those that get on are of a very high standard, but, even though we have loved their music enough to enter them upon this blog’s picky pages, not every artist is entirely resetting the bar. After all, just hitting the high standards is enough to get us excited, but every now and again we discover an artist really trying something fresh. We had the same moment when we first discovered recent acts, such as Breton, or Alt-J, or Dena, or Purity Ring – they’re just twisting the future in a new direction and that’s so much more exciting. Why settle for being great when you can try and be awesome instead?
Cornelia is a sensational new Swedish pop star, real name Cornelia Dahlgren. Her story seems like that of the butterfly. She thought she would start her career by taking her obvious talents onto the ugly arena of Swedish Idol back in 2004. Even though she qualified for the latter rounds, this chrysalis pulled out, spending the next few years writing as part of a band, only to find that it stifled her independence, whilst a few years purely writing for other artists stifled her own ambitions. Eventually, after some prescient advice from fellow Swedish mega-star, Robyn, she developed on her own, setting up the Camp Mozart label and self-releasing her debut EP, Capsule. Traction was beginning to take grip and she soon received compliments from the likes of José González and Guy Sigsworth, with diverse collaborations allowing her further experimentation, as the likes of Portico Quartet and Scratch DVA used her unique vocals on the lead singles that arrived with each of their 2012 albums.
Jamie Woon invited her to move to London, giving this butterfly the perfect environment in which to ignore the short cuts to a career and instead allow the beauty and talent to break out. Cornelia is now all set to get her solo work out properly in the UK, with the first release Stormy Weather due out on August 27th through her Camp Mozart label. The twisted bubblegum pop music that she designs can only really be compared to those artists that usually struggle to get compared with anyone. You can reference the likes of Tony Basil or Martina Topley-Bird, or more recently with My Toys Like Me or Alex Winston, but ultimately they’re all standing in different corners of that same ball park. Just like all of these other artists, she enjoys a frisson of insanity and the vocals act as the stand out component. We heard that Cornelia had been used in voicing characters for cartoons and Anime, which goes some way to describing her cute, helium vocals.
The new single, Stormy Weather, has more variety and ideas packed into any ten seconds of its three and half minutes than most artists pack into an entire album. Her smooth voice softens the tangled dub beats that feel like they’re being played on some kind of old, wind-up Rube Goldberg machine. It’s a marked evolution from some of her older songs, particularly when you compare it to something like her tune, Livin’ It Peach, which shows her attempting a more commercial sound, coming off more like a Will Smith pastiche. Greater successes can be located in more recent work, such as with Aquarius Dreams which feels like it’s soundtracking the kind of march your five year old self imagined your toy soldiers went on whilst you were out of the house. By The Fire feels as delicate as a snowflake, seeming like she’s used a ballerina jewellery box as much as any crushed synthetic rhythms. Sparks continue to fly around with Now And Hereafter, which marries the twee scale that is her signature move with more dangerous lyrics, as she sings, “I’m not too far from hitting the button, please god don’t let me get caught“. The Toki Monsta remix adds a welcomed heavier beat to the track, adding an interesting gravity to an otherwise weightless song.
This is an artist that flutters between ideas as fast as her synapses can fire, but her evolution now leads us to the butterfly that we always knew she was. Ultimately, if you write music with fresh ideas, doing your absolute best to spin creativity out of it at every junction, then you you will fall favourably upon our ears. Boundaries are pushed outwards, new paths are taken and trends are so often kicked off by artists that are testing out new directions. Music is a landscape riddled with cliches and re-hashed ideas; the first thing we imagined when being told that Gross Magic was leading a new grunge revival was how boring a grunge revival actually seems. We would rather hear the future over the past. Cornelia may be too weird to start a flurry of copyists, but at least she’s forging new ideas. All this actually takes a lot of bravery, as it doesn’t endear you to major record labels, seeming unlikely to achieve commercial success, but if ever there was a lesson in how the DIY approach can free artists up allowing them to forge exciting music then you need look no further than this stunning butterfly. (MB)
CORNELIA – STORMY WEATHER
CORNELIA – NOW AND HEREAFTER (TOKiMONSTA REMIX)