Luftloftet – The Swedish Jazz Band that would blow any psychonaut’s mind

By Kai Teo
Jazzkväll – Luftloftet kommer till Pensionat Järnavik

If you’ve been following Buddha Mag, you’d probably be a fan of electronic music (no, not the Swedish House Mafia bullshit, but the divine sounds of actual musicians). Then of course, we’d like to believe that our readers actually listen to their music, and by that, we mean actually dissecting every note, analysing every refrain, and letting every genius mix transport you to the outer realms of human consciousness. 

Now, are we on the same page? 

Yes? Good. Because if you’ve ever doubted that something else other than the groovy triplets of Goa trance or the keta-delic marshmallow beats of Berlin’s tech house could work to jolt you out into the higher states of existence, you’ve probably never heard jazz like what we heard last Saturday – jazz by the Swedish band Luftloftet.

Our first encounter with their giant talent happened on a rainy, autumn evening. As the Nordic lands finally ushered in the golden season of falling colours, we joined an intimate crowd of about 40, huddled together in a warm, softly lit café right in the heart of nowhere. Like, literally nowhere. Shrouded by darkness, towering pines, and Swedish loneliness, our senses were drawn right to the stage, tuned to receive every decibel that Luftloftet would be sending our way.

Luftloftet, translated to air loft, consists of vocal powerhouse Anna Petersson, double bassist Christian Thulin Pfeifer, together with guitarist Peter Olsson and drummer Elias Jakobsson. Each of them highly skilled in their individual instruments, and deeply in tuned with their musical talents. And of course, with this amount of overflowing talent, it’s only natural that every one of them has taken turns to compose different tracks in their performance. 

These young protégés turned the impression the uneducated public (us) had of jazz on its head. It’s not men in suits or the lady in a red gown at hotel lobbies, it’s not elevator music, and it’s definitely not something for the close-minded genre loyalists such as many are in today’s music scene. 

Luftloftet creates earth-shattering jazz that any self-proclaimed connoisseur of art could savour hungrily, wherever our preferences in form lie. Well, these humble individuals might be hesitant to admit that they’re actually groundbreaking. But hey, I’m pretty fucking sure that their performance that evening rocked the tits off even the most uptight old tramp that happened to be dragged there by their son or daughter (by the end of the evening, she was caught tapping her feet).

Their show began with the original composition “Samurai Hee Haw”, a lively, playful number that instantly silenced the crowd’s chatter and got them to tune in to their jazzy frequencies. Anna’s incredible voice could be likened to a strong, smoky whisky with notes of sweetness and rich flavours. And it’s definitely not born of an aged brewery with a heritage than spans back to the beginning to time, it’s more like one of those renegade breweries that popped out of some small town, fuelled purely by passion and creativity. The tender, yet powerful vocals pulled the audience into the depths of melancholy, while at other times, propelling them up into the heights of ecstasy, and right where the pitch gets to the right altitude, Anna’s voice breaks just a little into a smoky whisper that comfortably eases itself into our ears. Not to mention the surprise she delivered when she whipped out the bright blue melodica (it’s the handheld organ thingy that you blow into) and infused its pleasantly shrill tones into the harmony.

Underlining the performance, giving every tune its weight, are the deep, low tones from Christian’s elk-sized double bass. Every note that he strummed sent the thick, steel strings vibrating and blurring themselves into the air, just as the frequencies echoed through the room. My eyes tried to fixate themselves on the fleeting outlines of the strings, but these phantasmic visuals seemed unwilling to stay static, plucking our minds further and further away from reality each time they waved in the atmosphere. Precise, and at times deranged, the flamboyance of the double bass’ rumble almost seemed to betray Christian’s serious, straight-faced expression.

Injecting more life into the wondrous fusion was Peter’s guitars, which magically sounded like the elegance of a grand ballroom piano twisted with the complicated meanders of the frets. What could very well be produced by shiny black and white keys were now melted, colourful stairways of sensuous pleasure oozing out from his fingers.

Sitting in the back but hardly in the background was the beat maniac Elias. Give this man two wooden sticks and a bunch of buckets and stuff and he could just as easily summon those goosebumps out from your skin. The perfect control of pace, volume, and out-of-this-world hand-leg-eye coordination, his drum beats ring deep into everyone’s legs and necks, activating our instinctual desire to dance that had been unfairly subdued in the social correctness of Sweden’s mainstream community. And when he broke into a psychotic drum solo, I heard some people moan uncontrollably. You know, but they covered their mouths and then promptly disguised it as a cough.

So when you put these four staggering talents together, it becomes an unworldly and unreserved display of undulating moods, audio experiences and mindscapes. Their finale, the extremely moving self-titled track “Luftloftet” once again blew our brains apart with its extravagant showcase of their individual brilliance and their awe-inspiring flair as a band. And this, is the Luftloftet brand of jazz. Dear psychonauts, go on, be brave, take a trip with them.

Listen to them on Soundcloud at now.
And do yourself a favour, catch their next show at PM & Vänner Jazzfestival 2016 on November 19 in Växjö, Sweden.

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