Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique – Robyn and The Magic Trifle is the rough English butchering – is a bizarre project from some of Sweden’s most vaunted musical entities: Christian Falk, Markus Jägerstedt and Robyn. Love Is Free is their first, and probably only, release.
This is mostly due to the fact that Falk, an integral cog, passed away in 2014 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The project was semi-complete before his passing, and Robyn and Jägerstedt continued it in his honour – there’s a great interview on FACT about its themes and impetus.
On Love Is Free, the trio pay homage to club culture. ‘90s loft-house from New York, ‘80s disco beats, modern electro-pop, brassy horn-led Mardi Gras-isms – it’s a whistle-stop tour of some of dance music’s most vital vibes, including a cover of Arthur Russell’s “Tell You Today” (technically by Loose Joints).
The patchwork approach works as a snapshot, which has its fair share of pros and cons. It’s instantly gratifying, ready for the floors, but there’s never any time to linger and really dive into ideas; this is more a mixtape of ideas than a cohesive, finished product – but then it never really could’ve been. The likelihood of getting a La Bagatelle Magique part deux is astonishingly low, but after Love Is Free beats its last beat, you’re not left wholly satisfied.
Like Oliver Twist, we want more.
Love Is Free sits strangely in the canon of Robyn. It’s euphoric, and like every great Robyn anthem, there’s a cry-while-you-party type sound on the mini-LP that’s intensely emotional but wields an undeniable kinetic streak.
It’s also a profoundly complex and upsetting collection of songs in some ways – it’s the final opus of a supremely talented producer and a close confidant of Robyn. It’s only part-complete, and we’ll never hear a full Bagatelle album in the way it should have been after so many years of finely honed prep. It’s Falk’s unfinished symphony.