The universe is making music all the time

Step Right Up: 1991

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1991 is the alias of Gothenburg based artist Axel Backman, who creates compelling lo-fi electronica soundscapes. 1991’s self-titled album was released last year on the ground-breaking Astro:Dynamics label. I first came across the music of 1991 through Bleep’s Best of 2012 download package. As ever, some of the most innovative and adventurous sounds were part of these stunning 100 tracks, not least Backman’s 1991 sonic venture. The song in question was ‘Fabric of Space’, an ambient odyssey of shimmering textures and detuned synths. The song reminded me immediately of ‘Geogaddi’ by Boards of Canada. The sound was at once wholly familiar yet starkly mysterious. The synths and layers of electronic glitches are gorgeously layered together, forming an emotion-filled analog ballad. A beautiful introduction to a highly talented artist whose debut full-length release was everything you’d wish for, and more. 

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


‘1991’ was mastered by Vessel. A sublime collaboration between two like-minded artists. Vessel is the alias for Sebastian Gainsborough, the gifted electronic producer whose album ‘Order Of Noise’ was undoubtedly one of last year’s finest electronic records. More than that, the techno explorations are the sound of a future we have yet arrived upon. The album was released on the Tri Angle label. It is clear upon listening to ‘1991’, the young Backman is an electronic producer who has forged his own unique blend of synth-filled electronica. The resulting ‘1991’ is laden with dreamy analog oddysies, ideal for late night headphone-listening.

Astro:Dynamics is a recent discovery for me. Founded in the summer of 2010, the label has released an array of stunning records, where genres are beautifully blurred and at all times, pushing the sonic envelope. The label’s first release was a sixteen-track various artists compilation including contributions from Lukid, Vessel, 1991, Mike Slott, BNJMN, amongst others. Recent releases from 2013 includes ‘Moonless’ by Lotide and ‘Persian Prince’ by Singing Statues. I love how each release is lovingly packaged, with beautiful designs and artwork. Astro:Dynamics has become one of my dependable sources for new independent music. It is remarkable to think this label only began, a mere three years ago.

‘Distortion of Time’ is the most shape-shifting of 1991’s work to date. The track is the centerpiece of ‘1991’. Across six and a half minutes, layers of muffled tones and compelling beats are interwoven between a glorious synth motif. A spoken word sample is looped throughout that becomes clearly audible towards the song’s close, concerning the stars, galaxies and energy produced by our universe. Similarly, the digital haze beautifully crafted, feels as if it originates from a transmission off a distant planet. The ethereal sounds are things of beauty and wonder.

The dreamy soundscapes of ‘Tangerine Lidl’ is reminiscent (as the title suggests) of electronic luminaries Tangerine Dream. I feel the track belongs perfectly on the film score to ‘Me, You And Everyone We Know’, Miranda July’s film from a few years back. In places, across the wonderful sonic terrain of 1991, shades of UK’s Bibio comes to mind, and particularly the album ‘Ambivalence Avenue’. The production on album opener’Reborn Ice Horn’ shares the gleaming spark of such illuminating works as ‘Ambivalence Avenue’. It is worthwhile to also check out the remix of ‘Reborn Ice Horn’ by Ond Ton who manages to transform the track into an epic, dense collage of dazzling electronics and synths.

I think the song-title ‘Fabric of Space’ epitomizes the sound of 1991, where each of the eight songs belong in its own distinct realm of sound, connected by the masterful sonic wizardry of Axel Backman. ‘1991’ marks the beautiful beginnings of a hugely promising electronic producer. It is clear why the likes of Lukid, Vessel and a host of others, have championed Backman’s 1991 musical project.


Design based on the first ever website, published on August 6, 1991.


‘1991’ is out now on Astro:Dynamics.

Written by admin

May 1, 2013 at 12:59 pm

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