Review: Ida Long vs. Mintelligence


A while ago I reviewed a Song for the Day by Baron Bane, a Swedish electronic band (and whose album the song was from is released on 24 February). The lead vocalist is Ida Long, whose parallel career is as a solo singer/songwriter and dancer and she has just released her own third album; a contrast with Baron Bane’s synth-driven extravaganzas while not drifting too far away from them either.

This five track EP follows on from the full album Walk into the Fire (2012) and its predecessor, also an EP, In Dark Woods, which topped the Swedish charts (2011). Along the way there have been a number of single releases that have proved popular in Scandinavia, Germany, France and the Netherlands where she is much better known than in the UK. The most recognisable is her dance interpretation of Tears for Fears’ Mad World (from In Dark Woods), the video for which acted as the trailer in Scandinavia for US TV series Mad Men.

The latest release sees the welcome return of Ida’s cooperation with Swedish electro mixers Mintelligence, with whom she has previously worked. Indeed the collection is largely of prior collaborations.

We live in an era of musical genre overlap and mutation which suits me because I find it particularly hard to pigeon-hole Ida’s style. It isn’t unique but it is a melodic fusion of dance, jazz, funk, electronic influences and Ida’s own ongoing experimentation; one that she certainly can call her own. That said, comparisons have been made with numerous other artists ranging from Lykke Li to Feist, to Björk and to Kate Bush (the latter most obviously in Ida’s earlier song ‘Come Out and Play’).

Biographer Marta Oliehoek-Samitowska, author of ‘Symphony in Blue: Kate Bush and her legacy’ recommends, “…the work of Ida Long in particular for her intriguing and arty mix of music and dance. I would describe her music as ‘Portishead meets Kate Bush’ and her (video) clips as ‘Kate Bush meets David Lynch’. Yet, what Ida produces is actually very original and you should listen to her and watch her videos with an open mind”.

Meanwhile, Uncut ventured that “Ida Long edges towards Madonna-style disco ecstasy.”

Comparisons are ten-a-penny in the arts but that’s an impressive list of peers.

I’m not a great fan of remixes. I’ve heard some truly awful ones. Polly Scattergood is one artist who comes to mind whose subtle work has been poisoned by uncalled for remixes. But Mintelligence has found the knack of adding value to Ida Long’s mellifluous voice, in a way that others often fail to do.

It is interesting that Marta Oliehoek-Samitowska mentions Ida in the same breath as David Lynch because instrumental passages on several tracks sound as if they would lend themselves to the returning Twin Peaks.

The stand out track for me is Wooden Box (‘Peek-a-boo, what is true…your wooden box or you?’) for its subtle use of harmony and piano amidst the electronic beat. It’s the one most likely to get UK radio airplay.

On a new website Ida talks of her desire to be braver, to push the envelope further, hinting that she is handcuffed by “the made-up ideas that restrain us,” and which emanate from childhood. She describes herself as “drawn to people who can´t control themselves…who get impulses and get carried away,” and…” who can´t turn it off even if they want to.” She says she’s “working on this ‘being brave’ thing.”

For what my opinion is worth I reckon Ida still has much in her locker and should show courage. It will be interesting to see what this year’s promised second (and full) album brings in September, what style she adopts in it and whether there will be further experimentation. I have a feeling it has all the hallmarks of a breakthrough though Ida probably needs now to decide just what her genre is, and stick to it. She turns thirty this week, the most productive and creative era for many artists in my recent experience.

Following a couple of ‘release fests’ in Sweden (together with Twiggy Frostbite, who I intend to review shortly) there are no live dates that I know of just now. If and when Ida Long turns up in the UK, Band on the Wall would probably be a suitable venue in Manchester. Possibly Matt & Phreds.

You can find the record on Spotify but in the meantime, below are two of Ida Long’s unremixed tracks.

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