I’m always on the lookout for truly independent artists who release their own homegrown albums in any genre, but when the genre is indietronica and the album is released under a Creative Commons license, I really sit up and take notice.
Earlier this year, Danish singer and music producer Tone released her debut album Small Arm of Sea on her web site, joining a growing wave of Creative Commons artists who are taking control of their careers and their rights as artists by producing and marketing their own work.
Tone (whose real name is Sofie Nielsen) had already been a very active presence in her local electronica music scene, which eventually progressed naturally into her developing her own music. Although she is relatively unknown outside Scandinavia, her popularity in her native Denmark has risen to the point where other nations are starting to take notice, and with good reason.
Small Arm of Sea is a delicate mixture of Nielsen’s soft, floaty vocals, beats reminiscent of early 90s trip-hop, and relaxing beds of swirling electronic sounds. Although this is primarily chill-out music, some of the tracks have an unusual dark upbeatness to them (“Work It” and “I Am Long” are good examples), and one is a downright happy song (“Stringphant”).
The overall mood of the album falls quite short of cheery, though, and is probably better suited to sit alongside such melancholy poptronica as Imogen Heap or Air. The production quality does have some of that tell-tale independent sound, but it is charming rather than distracting.
Small Arm of Sea is certainly head and shoulders above most spare-bedroom-produced music, and is a testament to Nielsen’s previous experience in the production arena. In fact, the lack of slick engineering and glossy beats works so well within this set of songs that I’m increasingly convinced it may have been at least partially intentional. The differences are subtle, though, and if you listen to this album shuffled up with the rest of your electronica collection, I doubt any track from the group would stand out as immaturely produced or sub-par in any way.
Nonetheless, it has to be said that Sofie Nielsen is very much a developing artist. Seeing as Small Arm of Sea is her first full-length studio effort and she is pretty much on her own in terms of production team, it makes sense that she is starting small, and I’m curious to see where this journey will take her.
No doubt she is hoping that the popularity of this album will continue to grow, enabling her to engage in more ambitious ventures in the future.
I fully believe that with the right equipment upgrade, combined with Neilsen’s innate talent for magnetic electronica, there’s nothing this girl wouldn’t be able to do if given the chance.
Small Arm of Sea is released under a Creative Commons license, and is available for free (really, no money whatsoever) on Tone’s web site. At that price, there’s no reason not to check it out, and be sure to send your friends the link if you like what you hear. Independent artists such as Tone rely on internet exposure and word of mouth to build a fan base, so sharing the independent music you enjoy assures that more of it gets created in the future.
Pic of the Day: My neighbors complained