CEO (previously just ceo) is the solo project of Eric Berglund who was previously a member of the electronic music duo The Tough Alliance from Gothenburg, Sweden. Following his debut solo work (2010’s White Magic) now Berglund is back to release Wonderland out on Modular this month. With production by Dan Lissvik and Kendal Johansson, the album is another foray into synth-pop, but this time with a crazy, arty edge with music that takes you on a futuristic, utopian journey.
“Whorehouse” opens the eight-track album with a bang – a man voices the introduction – the listeners are about to embark on a listening experience into another world; “And I felt like I had opened Pandora’s box, and now I have to close it”. The track follows with catchy vocals and high-energy synth pop. In “Harakiri” strings and synth and high-pitched vocals swirl around other noisy, synth-y, trance-like arrangements. Clips from an American sounding sit-com or talk show filter in amongst the keys and wall of noise.
A noisy and intense DIY sound continues in the rest of the album too – in parts it’s almost like the sounds coming from an art installation rather than a constructed album. “In a Bubble on a Stream” sees more sound effects, with sounds like a dog barking or a child’s electronic toy bleating, and Berglund sings a harmony without words. “Mirage” has a psychedelic mix of strange sounds with orchestral instrumentation along with Bergland’s vocals.
Title track “Wonderland” has more high-pitched indefinable noises that despite their obscurity seem to work – they work to move towards creating a dreamy world with strange, enticing rhythms. “JuJu” takes a journey into calmer waters, it sounds like the sea crashing on a beach and is a welcome break amongst the chaos, well, until the sound of screaming at the end that is.
“Ultrakaos” brings in sprinklings of delicate keys; there are no vocals just an undulating soundscape, the occasional sample of “yeah baby!” and the repetition of “ultra” throughout. “OMG” voices what a lot of listeners might be feeling; however it’s not one of the crazier tracks – it has a sense of calm amongst the auto-tuned quips and background noise. Vocals swim along with the harp sounds and produce something that ends the album in quite an epic way.
It seems like CEO has really put his all into this album and it sounds at the same time fresh and dreamlike. Call it art, call it experimental, whatever Wonderland is, it’s worth a listen.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.