Text: Andy Fenwick
With the Phenomenal Handclap Band, Daniel Collás crafts club-ready electronic pop notable for that thick, 4/4 drum-tone Swedish producers master as often as they shovel snow. In Diamond Nights, Morgan Phalen spins tightly-wound glam metal, but also favors the type pf spacious guitar riffs and synth flourishes found on early Cars records. After guesting on the PHB’s 2009 debut, Phalen began brewing Drakkar Nowhere with Collás in 2012, in Stockholm. And as one can do in Sweden, they threw a rock out their Stockholm window and hit some excellent collaborators.
In one triumphant rock toss, Collás and Phalen tapped Dungen bassist Mattias Gustavsson for Drakkar Nowhere track “How Could That Be Why.” A word on Dungen: their 2004 album “Ta Det Lungt” ranks as one of prog-psych’s best, equal parts interstellar piano and furious guitar, all parts hinging on Gustavsson’s fat, melodic bass lines (imagine Purling Hiss covering the Zombies, sung in Swedish, and recorded at Abbey Road Studios). “How Could That Be Why,” does have a touch of Dungen to it, as far as Gustavsson’s snaking bass, but this is more yacht rock than early Yes. Phalen’s ascending falsetto inks a canvas of burbling, sweeping Moog brushstrokes and head-nodding beats. Gustavsson escalates to a few slaps, and soon you have AM-radio-style blue-eyed soul from the days when AM radio still played music.
On “Higher Now,” Dakkar Nowhere half-steps back from yacht rock and delivers a stuttering slice of pipe organ-laced, slow funk gifted with vocals by yacht rock legend Ned Doheny. Which makes sense, considering Doheny’s best work, especially his 1970s nugget “To Prove My Love,” offered the type of subtle funk that separates yacht rock from soft rock. Doheny inarguably influences both new DN tracks.
That’s not to say Drakkar Nowhere conjure yacht rock’s sunny, 70s California vibe. There’s a spooky streak running throughout these tracks, an otherworldliness suggested not only in the reverb-ed organ on “Higher Now,” or in the bubbling Moog on both tracks, but also evoked by their s/t debut’s cover, depicting an alien Stonehenge against a red sun in a night sky. It’s as if DN imagined themselves scoring “Children of the Stones,” a 1976 ITV series far too creepy for its intended audience of kids. When the inevitable reboot of that series goes into development, Drakkar Nowhere should top the list of bands auditioning for the score.