Fest I Valen was a 2001 self-released album by Swedish electronic/synth-pop band Slagsmålsklubben. The band, named after the movie (and the book) Fight Club, being mostly known for their clever, cheeky use of retro electronic sounds mixed with irresistible beats and melodies.
Fest I Valen was one of the first things the band ever did together as they were formed only a year prior and it’s easy to see that album as the “pilot” for everything they did next. It’s a short one composed of only 10 songs but it presents a really good example of what the band’s about.
One track, “Hit Me Hard”, actually incorporates short audio clips from the movie Fight Club which is why this can definitely be seen as their intro album. The song was actually released as a single some years later: it’s a heavier, more energetic track than some on Fest I Valen with a slower bit in the middle acting as a useful break. Good stuff.
The first track on the album is “KKKKK Come On!”, a robot-voiced piss-take with a video game-style beat and a guitar coming in eventually. It’s like an odd cross between a chiptune and a mini Daft Punk outing. It’s fun. As is the other robot-voiced song on the album, “Synthpopper”, which also has a fun rhythm to it.
The awesomely titled “Fox Goes To Japan In Order To Meet Other Ninja Foxes In The Tribe Of Hokkaido” sounds epic and hilarious but is in fact surprisingly cute and simple. It opens on sounds of rain and thunder before introducing a genuinely nice little melody with basic but brilliantly used synth sounds. Speaking of basic synth sounds, “Nya Krafter” sounds like it was made on the cheapest synthesiser around, like if someone pressed the “demo” button on one of those. A beautiful melody is soon layered over that, though, and a screeching guitar is added about halfway making it one of the best songs on the album and one of my favourites.
“Dagen Då Medeltiden Raserades” is a simple, slower song that’s more about the rhythm than anything else. It’s atmospheric and it builds up to some pretty cool retro game-style sounds. That said, it’s perhaps a tad too long as it can get a bit repetitive. As for “Australien”, it’s a much more abstract effort with some weird voices peppering it throughout. Then there’s “Kåldolmar”, a title which I believe means “stuffed cabbage” or “cabbage rolls”. It opens on radio frequencies changing and we finally get a dancier beat. The relatively short song has a cute build up with some succinct lyrics and it somehow works.
The last two songs on the album are actually really short also which means that Fest I Valen ends somewhat abruptly. Having said that, “Räven Återuppstår” is one of my personal favourites: it’s a simple as hell synth demo beat but with a beautiful and catchy little melody. I only wish it had been like 2 minutes longer and continued with the way it was developing. The final track, “The Return Of The Mutant Kamel”, is not much of anything really, a mix of film clips, bleeps and a single beat for 30 seconds. Though the fact it’s probably referencing this little dated gem is frankly awesome in itself. Think of it as an epilogue.
So that’s Slagsmålsklubben’s Fest I Valen, a short but sweet piece of madcap Swedish electro serving as a very solid intro to a playful band which would end up making many more terrific albums soon enough.
Short album but it’s still worthy of its 4 Daft Punks out of 5.