MusicBlox: Wintergatan

Homemade instruments like a custom musicbox and an analog keytar-ish thing join an unimaginable mixture of live acoustic and electronic instruments and samples in what is probably the most deliriously happy music I’ve listened to in a while without feeling like my brain is overdosing on cheese. OK, there’s some cheese, but it’s earnest cheese.


Wintergatan (Swedish for the Milky Way) is a unique band made up of multi-instrumentalists who, in many cases, play multiple instruments at once on stage. Their stage setup above is sadly misleading — they set up tables in the shape of their band’s name and cover them completely with something like a hundred different instruments, then proceed to not play the vast majority of them. I would be far more impressed if they actually circulated through this field of instruments, picked them up and played them periodically. But even if it’s just a prop, it drives home the possibility that they probably could play any of these instruments if they wanted to — their skill is equal to the task, even if their mic and power setup isn’t (see? no cables to all those keyboards).

One of the things I love about these folks is that process seems as important as product to them. This is borne out in their music videos, at least a couple of which are twice as long as the song itself because they show all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating the video, or in some cases the instruments themselves. I’m particularly enamored of the custom music box they’ve created that actually gets used in their live shows. In the background you can see that they’ve actually created a custom melody tape to feed through the mechanism. This means one of two things: either there is a computer program that creates music-box tape according to a melody you create, or they wrote a computer program simply for this purpose. Either is pretty awesome, really.

So enough talk. Go listen. This video is full of incredible things, including all the stuff I mentioned plus homemade Lego stop-motion animation and a rhythm track made from slide-projector noises. Make sure to watch all the way to the end if you want to know how they put it all together.

Needless to say, I would be among the first in line if Wintergatan ever tours in the US, but for now they’re confined to their own continent so I’ll just wait. In the meantime, you can get their CD or vinyl album from their store if you’re in Europe, or go for digital at Bandcamp.

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