Gothenburg, Sweden. The second largest city in Sweden (behind Stockholm) is probably best known here in the States for being the hometown of Ace of Base; until now.
Friends since high school – Yukmi Nagano, Rashik Aryal, Fredrik Källgren Wallin, and Erik Bodin – merged their collective creativity under the moniker Little Dragon. Their breakthrough (albeit rough around the edges) freshman self titled album released in 2007. Since then they have released two more albums: Machine Dreams (2009) and now Ritual Union. Through the vast amounts of touring, recording, and collaborative efforts they group of four has remained unscathed and more impressive than ever.
Although they may not ring a bell to you at first, consider this: between Machine Dreams and now they have contributed to some fantastic albums. Two particular albums you may recognize Plastic Beach by the Gorillaz and Maximum Balloon’s Maximum Balloon. The experience and knowledge gained by working with the brilliant minds of both Damon Albarn and Dave Sitek is both invaluable and defining.
Comparatively, Ritual Union stays true to the roots we experienced with Little Dragon while standing tall on the lessons learned over the last four years. Bursting with musical brilliance immediately with the title track, Nagano’s beautifully simple, yet impactful vocals lift you out of everyday life and introduce you to their world; a world colored with minimal hardware and maximum imagination.
The psychedelic synthesized beats layered with grooving bass lines supplied masterfully by Wallin, Bodin, and Aryal deliver an all incorporated experience unlike anything you can find. Some may come close, but none deliver quite as exceptionally as these four. “Please Turn” brings together the prefect balance of their talent to carry the mid album transition into what would be perceived as B Sides. Although they are included in the last half of the album, they’re of no less quality. “Nightlight” intertwines a retro 80s vibe with digitalized bridges as it slides you into the final tracks. Ending on a very Little Dragon note, “Seconds” carries with it what we’ve come to expect and love; a simply paced track built upon an uncomplicated beat, strong vocals pouring out lyrics like: “I wouldn’t want to change if it brings you down,” and random noises popping up throughout. The little nuances such as a bell tolling or an organ playing a minor two notes only add to the elegance and individuality.
Materializing out of a plethora of culture and experience, restrained only by what they have not yet learned Ritual Union is an all encompassing experience that will exercise the audiophile in all of us.