Testbild! — A Band With a Story to Tell

Testbild! — A Band With a Story to Tell

Adriana SaboMonday,2 March 2015

Testbild! is one of those bands whose members went through quite a few adventures, before ending up together. The biography of the band is quite long:

“Originally Testbild! was the brainchild of a Swedish scientist, who wishes to remain anonymous (…) Wishing to communicate his ideas about the world and the nature of reality in another form, he started writing a book with the name Testbild!. In 1994 Petter Herbertsson met the author/chemist at a train station (…) Petter expressed an interest in the book.” After this meeting, the chemist allowed him to share the story of the book, share it’s message. So Petter, “with the scientist’s words in mind wrote a manifesto, renouncing genre values, and music and/or art for commercial purposes.”

The story goes on, with many great musicians joining and leaving Tesbild! Current members of Testbild! (listed on their latest album) are Siri af Burén, Katja Ekman, Petter Herbertsson, Douglas Holmquist and Petter Samuelsson, joined by a lot of guests and friends. All these people have one thing in common: the wish to experiment and move beyond restrictions that define the field of music, mostly by blending genres and twisting them until they are almost impossible to recognize.

Whether complete freedom from rules can ever be achieved is a matter for further discussion that most probably doesn’t have a definitive answer, but one thing is certain: this is a goal worth pursuing, as it gives you motivation and ability to not just think outside the box, but think as if there was no box at all.

Near the end of February, Testbild! released a new album titled Belka & Strelka (Kalligrammofon Recordings), dedicated to two Soviet stray dogs who were the first Earth-born creatures to be sent to space and return safely. The event took place in 1960, and now, 55 years later, the two dogs have their very own experimental/experimental pop/jazz album created in memory of their voyage. According to the band’s own description of their discography, Belka & Strelka stands out because it is “an album in which the electronic elements, especially the use of analogue synths, takes a more prominent position. No guitars were used on the recordings.”

Belka & Strelka is an amazing album influenced by classical–as can be seen in the first track “Overture” that begins with the sounds of a symphony orchestra tuning, for example–as well as ambient and meditation music. The general atmosphere was meant to paint the picture of endless space, with slightly changing light and flickering stars, hence the use of analogue synths. These instruments also produced a–I’d say very deliberate–association to Soviet electronic music made during the sixties, which adds to a somewhat rustic feel to the otherwise contemporary sound. The whole album brings some very positive energy to the listener and Belka & Strelka is a special treat to those who enjoy discovering the possibilities of analogue synths.

It is by no means possible to say everything that comes to mind while listening to Belka & Strelka in just one review. But, it is most definitely an album that will satisfy a variety of listeners and will surely open up some new doors to those who like to explore. Just like Belka and Strelka did back in 1960.

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Hat Tips:

Testbild!, Bandcamp, Facebook, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


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