Gothenburg’s Sandra Sumie Nagano is one of my all-time favourite artists. My friends know this, my neighbours know this and any new people I meet won’t be in the dark about how much I love her music for long. Since I first heard her eponymous debut album I have been captivated by the luminous beauty of her voice and the dreamlike landscapes her music evokes.
‘Höga Torn’, which loosely translates as ‘High Towers’, is part of what is becoming an annual tradition of a single release in the summer. Last year it was Drömbrus and in 2020 Upp Ur Mörkret. This release is inspired by the young people Sandra has met working at Gothenburg’s opera house. She says “they have this glow in their eyes…anticipation of life, travelling, studying, love, moving to their first apartment etc. I love being around them and work feels easier and more fun.”.
That sense of optimism inhabits the mood of ‘Höga Torn’ which grows from just vocals and gentle rolling guitar before the other instruments glide in. Bass guitar anchors the mood, piano swells up around the voice and accents certain phrases, and bucolic synth lines. It feels like an optimistic prayer for the future her younger colleagues, and song evokes the mood of a morning sunrise with clouds forming and then get burned away by the rising sun allowing the full glory of the view to come into focus. I imagine Sumie as the benign sentinel providing a watchful gaze over all the wonderful possibilities that these young people can experience.
If you have not heard anything by Sumie before then I envy you the chance to discover releases such as the Mirou EP and LP Lost In Light for the first time. These, along with ‘Höga Torn’, are produced by fellow musician Filip Leyman who really understands how to arrange everything to support and enhance Sumie’s voice and all the musicians on this song bring a beautiful buoyancy to everything. Such beauty and optimism is in short supply at the moment so the opportunity to spend even a brief time in Sumie’s world is something to be treasured.
Produced and mixed by Filip Leyman
Music & lyrics: Sandra Sumie Nagano
Piano: Klas- Henrik Hörngren
Bass, guitar, synth: Filip Leyman
Guitar & vocals: Sandra Sumie Nagano
Review by Paul F Cook