VIRNA LINDT: SHIVER
vinyl re-issue REVIEWS 2017-2019 – ALL MUSIC GUIDE / MOJO / BRAINWASHED / LOUDER THAN WAR / FOND / SOUND
“Thanks to the chance meeting of translation student Virna Lindt and Compact label guru Tot Taylor on a train, as the liner notes explain, Lindt and Compact first made its mark with the nervy John Barry-meets-new wave mania of Attention Stockholm, the single which also leads off her debut album as a whole. Spy atmospherics permeate the album and not just in sound – thus song titles like The Dossier on Virna Lindt and Letter to Sergei. But while Lindt and her musical collaborators are definitely enamoured of a mythical jet-set past where dapper secret agents are busy running around space age sets with a drink in hand, there’s actually less per se retro about Shiver than many other albums that followed in its wake. Instead of simply cool styles, things at times feel nervous, jittery, a response to a time and place that’s of the moment. That said, the moody-start-of-the-film feeling of Episode One practically begs to soundtrack a sequence where Dirk Bogarde hauls a body out of the Seine. Lindt herself acts less as the lead singer and more as the narrator of her own adventures, a Modesty Blaise running rampant and occasional striking reflective poses amid orchestral swells and energetic percussion. When she does take a more formal lead singing role, she comes across as a bit light if not unpleasantly so, as on Pillow Talk. Meantime, the jaunty piano-led kick of I Beat the System and the moody ’70s rather than ’60s lounge-ness of Underwater Boy shows that there’s more here than a restrictive stereotype”
(All Music Guide)
“An elegant homage to classic soundtrack styles, Virna Lindt’s knowing 1984 debut album is a stylish set best appreciated for its atmosphere, voice and melodies. With bonuses including backing tracks, singles and later remixes, this reissue is the last word on an album integral to the era when mix-and-match rummaging through the past to create a meta-pop for the now began in earnest”
“Dazzling double disc reissue – 25 cuts of delicious Cold War pop, also including some irresistible instrumental versions of album tracks. Tres chic”
(Electronic Sound, 12/2017)
“Shiver simply luxuriates in feelings of off-kilter romance and intrigue. Sounding like the mysterious lover you’d swear only exists in the movie, Virna uses her linguistic skills to vocalize in Swedish and English half-knowing lyrics that match the unsteady sonic atmospheres found in songs like Shiver and Pillow Talk. I think of Shiver as Bergman’s All These Women cast as 50-odd minutes of musical dialog. Largely led by real and synthetic orchestration, as Virna’s moods change (as they often will, within the same song), Tot Taylor’s fantastic orchestrations cast a brilliant pale of modern love throughout, shifting sonically to match those same moods… Sultrily sing-speaking over all sorts of unplaceable musique concrete and backwards-playing movie recordings, Virna finds just the right way to throw you from an expected scent”
“The illusion that Virna Lindt perpetrates is circular: Swedish translation student pretending to be a jet-set model revealed as a spy masquerading as a singer (and so on). Visually, her fabulous appeal is that of a Gerry and Sylvia Anderson prototype action doll come to life and gone undercover, maybe one of the Angel fighter pilots from the Captain Scarlet series. All that would be mere pap if the music didn’t add up to more than an exercise in style. But, Shiver still sounds as playfully aloof as ever, Lindt’s icy mystique unthawed by time. The title track proves that few things work as well as a mysterious beauty muttering in a foreign tongue, making great use of an echo halfway between a gunshot and the sound of a glacier cracking”
“Shiver proved there was more to Virna Lindt than cool, camp spy escapades. Edwin Astley’s introduction music for Danger Man, High Wire, is referenced on Attention Stockholm, with The Dossier On Virna Lindt having her return to secret agent frolics, but this time bolting it onto a cool 60s Serge Gainsbourg influence. The jazzy piano takes us away a little from the hints at Cold War aesthetics implicit in the title of Letter To Sergei, while the title track opens with a nice harpsichord and bass combination before developing into a breezy piece of big-production 60s pop. Underwater Boy has very pleasant, plaintive jazz influence to it and the thud and shuffle of Pillow Talk possesses a good rhythmic dance-beat. Swedish Modern, with its wireless scan and sinister backwards noise, was the joker in the pack and if I Beat The System’s rolling piano made me think of Rise and Fall-era Madness for some reason, it’s very good even so.”
“Of the bonus tracks, Young and Hip is a big, daft but loveable dance number – very St Etienne before the fact. The pacey and eccentrically dreamlike treatment of Windmills of Your Mind also stands out. Man Talk is a rather jokey duet and Episode 1 successfully mines the theme music again, sounding midway between an ITC programme trail and the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The bonus instrumental versions are there mainly for the more avid fans, but they are interesting, revealing the painstaking work that Taylor put in behind the scenes to match the novel vocal style and visual presentation. A lot of effort obviously went into getting these pieces just right.”
“In conclusion, Shiver is a classy pop album with a hint of the mysterious that marked it out from the pack. This new 2CD/2xLP edition will be a must for fans of the Compact Organisation and sophisticated pop, with the original album being a classic curveball of 60s style in the face of 80s gaudy excess. Put together with the usual thorough and stylish eye of the Les Disques du Crepuscule team, it is a cool breeze indeed”
(Louder Than War, 12/2017)
AVANTE-GUARD: PRESS RELEASE
Quick history lesson: the release of Attention Stockholm, in the midst of the 1980s political maelstrom marked the beginning of a new direction for indie music. Taking its cue from the mode of film and moving images the record was not so much sung as ‘spoken’. The speaker being Swedish translation student Virna Lindt. While on a train bound for London, she met songwriter Tot Taylor and told him of her plan to make a record like “a Hitchcock theme with a rock ’n’ roll beat”. Thus, the urgent-sounding 45, recorded in Stockholm in one ‘live’ three-hour-session with a small ad-hoc orchestra became, by default, the first record on Taylor’s influential The Compact Organization art-house label, along with two other debuts – Dance Card by soul singer Mari Wilson – and Shake / Shake by the early funk / hip-hop collective Shake / Shake.
As a prelude to a new album due Spring 2020, Virna releases her first single on David Camp’s new The Campus label. Avant Garde (Pts 1 and 2), is a 10 minute track, recorded over three months at The Apartment Studios, Stockholm and mixed at RAK, London, and is an audio-genic comment on extreme artistic endeavour / out-there behaviour. Spread across two sides of a 10” single the song is written by Virna and co-produced with collaborator Tot Taylor. The Campus is an Artists’ Colony specialising in Endeavour and Experience in all of the arts – truly a ‘Residency from our World’.