I have been listening to the works of Niklas Kvarforth for a number of years and besides the messages of his music in some of his projects, I have always been fascinated by the musical composition from a song structure point of view. This being said I can’t condone the messages of his music, however, who am I to take the moral high ground? As an artist, he has chosen to express his pain, anger, hate, and depression, in what could be considered a very constructive manner by some and not so constructive by others. Now, mix all of those emotions with various drugs and alcohol abuse and well, you’re left with an artistic expression that will leave you breathless.
My first encounter with Niklas and Shining for that matter was an album called the Darkroom Sessions, which was mostly a compilation where most of the tracks but one, were just the music, containing no vocals. The manner in which the music was able to capture the darkness, anxiety and eeriness did my head in completely as I was blown away by the sheer soundscape of so many emotions. This being said, I can imagine the emotional roller coaster of that particular piece of music, would be different for everyone. It is surely a negative energy, but it is just so powerful. Once you’ve latched on to something like that, in a negative headspace, it is very difficult to give up, it could only be compared to a drug.
I then decided, fuck it, I might as well delve deeper into the incredible, petrifying and dangerous psyche of the man behind the music and started to get my hands on some of his other works. The next release that I thought was incredible was V – Halmstad, which again came to me in a strange time in my life, but it was a way for me to cope with the swirl of emotions I was feeling at that particular time, to know there are people out there who share similar emotions, is quite empowering, however, I never took the lyrics to heart, but I felt that I was given a voice through this composition, this masterpiece, which to me is a very significant release in the Shining discography, due to my personal experience. This kind of music can be toxic to some people, but I found that diving into the psyche of a deranged, yet incredibly intelligent individual, to me was fascinating, but I wouldn’t advise it.
I do not suffer from any mental disorders, but I, basically saw it as a period of self-enlightenment, finding myself emotionally in a world that was pretty fucked up for the most part, and you really need to read between the lines and lies you’re fed about what it is to identify with Hollywood’s version of joy, love, sadness, despair and hate, then and only then did I discover the coldness of the world out there, which allowed me to rationalise my fears, not just personally, but as a human being. Like I said, this was a personal journey, but I digress.
After what was seemingly phase for me, which could have gone so wrong for so many people, It then kind of faded into obscurity for me as I was not really tempted by the music at all and kind of fell out of the loop with the next release, until around mid 2011 when I saw the music video for Förtvivlan, min arvedel, which was the first track off their 7th studio album titled VII – Född förlorare. I personally thought that this was their best effort up to date and I was absolutely blown away by the album, the music video, however, scared the shit out of me. Never a bad thing, but please be approach with caution, as this is not for the faint of heart.
I will admit I missed the 8th incantation and managed to get my hands on it recently, but for some reason, it didn’t really grip me like the other albums I mentioned in this article. It was not until recently, a few weeks back that I saw the full album was streaming on Soundcloud, which I managed to see on a popular social media site. I was thrilled by the prospect of another release and immediately streamed it, anticipating something great and I’m happy to say it’s yet another phenomenal release.
The title – which to me just illustrates what you can expect from shining- is simply just IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends and that does really set the tone for the record from the start. Filled with hate and a lot of negativity, whilst maintaining that eerie coldness that will send shivers down your spine.
For all money, this is probably on par with their best work, if not their best work, giving you another glimpse, all though limited, into the psyche of Niklas Kvarforth. Whom is an interesting character and an even better musician and composer for that matter.
I feel that this record has all the makings of a classic, especially from the offset, where it all kind of builds up with various sounds coming from all over, but never really a bombardment. It’s more of a journey into the psyche of the self, filled with mystique and uncertainty for the most part, which keeps you on the edge. It can be incredibly enchanting but only though its malevolence, which could be rather subliminal.
A modern day classic from a composer that is in many ways twisted, but yet finding an artistic output, not that I can condone his art, but man does it give me chills. It all really comes together with the second track, but man that first track does really set it up, but as it kicks up a notch on the second, you really start to feel all those emotions that have gone into the making of this record. It is fascinating, yet scary. I would compare it to the emotions one would experience when watching a really good horror or splatter film, there creepier and scarier it gets, the more you can’t take your eyes off it, and this record has exactly that effect on the listener, myself included. This sets the record up for its duration, which I could appreciate in full. I’m not willing to admit how many times I’ve listened to it, people might start thinking of me as strange.
The composition and craftsmanship -which I have praised and highlighted throughout this article- that Niklas Kvarforth has managed to manipulate to his own heinous and wicked ways, is absolutely breathtaking, yet disturbing. The delivery of his emotions and psyche to the audience through his music, is second to none and I consider him an absolute genius. Look out folks, IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends isn’t for the faint hearted, but if you can appreciate a corrupted, malevolent genius at work, I would definitely recommend this release to those who can stomach it.