I’d never heard of Sweden’s Surrounded before. I’m always cautious of new music, I suffer from a struggle with fear of change and diving head-first into a new record from a band I know nothing about is a daunting task for me. What should I expect? Well…
It was a Friday morning when I realised Surrounded’s Oppenheimer and Woodstock is essentially the soundtrack I needed 5 years ago when I was hiking through brush and dirt, trying desperately to complete my Duke of Edingburgh Bronze award, and I think I’ve worked out the reason for this sudden urge to go back in time with this record.
It’s the spaciousness. Oh, the spaciousness. You are literally Surrounded by it. I can remember me and my buddies trekking up the steepest slopes and sleeping in the roughest of weathers but this is all why Oppenheimer and Woodstock would’ve been essential – it conveys to me those emotions you get when you suddenly think “Wow. I’m alive. This is it. This is really the world here, man.”
I mean, I’m only 18 years old – but I do hold on to those memories and emotions fondly. I think the whole group of guys I participated with do, too. I can just see myself in third person, four of us climbing this slope in the dazzling autumn sunlight and ‘1000 Colour Clash’ is playing like some epic advert for Centre Parcs that would make you actually want to go there. The progression in the riffs, the sheer attention to detail in the loops and samples and synths and sounds. This is effort in a record.
And some of it is just goddamn haunting. Another scenario that instantly forms in my mind is of last winter. All that snow. I can remember getting off the train to visit my girlfriend, who lives in a small, rural village so to speak – and it was blanketed with white snow. The album’s 6 minute opener, ‘Terra Firma Legion Farewells’ – would’ve made that walk to her house so goddamn perfect I can’t even begin to describe it to you. It’s as dreamy as I feel right now bringing all these thoughts to the front of my mind.
The sheer scale of the melodies; the haunting, craving vocal delivery, create this bridge between the gushing, open world; with a spider spinning a web so delicate it’s obsolete in the world as a whole. Because Surrounded take you on a journey that’s only undertaken ever so rarely in a record: it is not diverse. It is not exciting. It is not experimenting with genres. This is, arguably, ‘just shoegaze’. There is, arguably, no progression or ‘standout track’ – but the more you listen to this LP, the more you notice the drop of morning dew or the crispy autumn leaf or the most fragile snowflake that is in the corner of every track; putting the whole thing into this awesome perspective.
You just end up ‘getting it’. I think it’s in the last precious seconds of closer ‘Glycerine For Disneyland’ when ‘surely this can’t be the end,’ starts running through your mind, as it is flat in comparison to the rest of the record, but it makes you want to play it again. That is where your adventure with this album really begins and ends. Some people won’t have picked it up. It’s easy to pass this record off as boring and bland, I can understand that.
But some people on the other hand… well, you’ll just know if you’re one of them. This record is soft and pale, but it’ll hit you hard and fast, and if it does – you’re in for something special.