For the past 13 years Henrik Appel has been a regular feature in the landscape of Stockholm’s garage scene. Offering musical contrast and continuity in energy and ambition, he’s played in a number of bands; Martin Savage Gang, Kilroy, and Lion’s Den – the new three-piece outfit in which he takes lead. However, Appel’s unrelenting output has now produced a debut solo album. Burning Bodies will be released via PNKSLM Recordings on June 29th. Until then we have the first single to occupy our ears. It’s called “Hotel Room”.
Fans of Appel’s previous outfits may be surprised by the toned-back approach to production here. The lo-fi focus of this lead single exposes the direction of the promised album. This thing feels just as vital, but much less urgent than the sometimes explosive output of the previously mentioned bands. An unhurried tone sets the bed for undulating acoustic waves that wash over. The album took Appel around five years to write, record, and produce. And this track feels pensive – a guitar is chugged, an analog synth drones, there’s a subtle bleeping noise drifting in and out of earshot – like the core of something becoming self-aware.
Hotel rooms have featured largely in pop culture. The private, but not personal spaces that we occupy from time to time. That Appel focuses on the heavily romanticized, mythologized locations sets a signal of intent. The album title appears as a lyric here. “Burning Bodies” perhaps toys with the concept of burning bridges, or ridding ourselves of previous bodies of work – saying goodbye to the evidence of our former selves. Hotel rooms offer this kind of license; the kind of behaviors, nocturnal submissions, and explorations that we may not take in more familiar, domestic environments. We can become other versions of ourselves. These other versions of our personalities are not always improvements. Appel knows this – and here, in his sometimes quivering voice, he addresses transitions, both personal and artistic.
“Hotel Room” is a disarming track. It sneaks up on you. Deeper with replay, and especially rewarding in headphones – we’ll talk about production values more closely when we come back to the album in June. And we’ll definitely want to be be talking about the album in the summer. There’s an understated grandeur to this thing that is utterly beguiling.
HURRY – PREORDER – HENRIK APPEL