Magnet, or Even Johansen, as this quiet man from Bergen was christened, became one of the most beloved artists in Norwegian pop music after his second album, 2003’s “On your side”.
His tranquil, shimmering music shelters a rare and fragile beauty that many, many people took to and felt was made accessible to them in unprecedented ways.
And not only in Norway, because Magnet is one of those artists who already from the start worked, and made an impact internationally. -If not in a big, noisy, best-selling fashion, then in subtler and more profound ways.
Most people are used to gauging success in terms of record sales, touring and media coverage alone, and are oblivious to music’s other arenas e.g. it’s presence in TV-series and in films.
Even Johansen’s music was first heard by millions of people through such exposure, notably the American TV series “The O.C”, which has made use of two of his songs, and, most recently, in the major Hollywood movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Music utilised in such contexts often has a special appeal distinguished by a certain anonymity; an arresting property that is unconditioned by knowledge of who is playing.
The lure is in the music and its presence alone, and resides in special qualities which make it arresting so as to take hold of even the inattentive listener.
Magnet’s magnetism works despite the relative lack of buzz, fame and huge sales. His music manages to seep through normal barriers and defy the lack of attention that most people give to music they don’t know, or don’t mean to get to know. Thus his tunes take hold, and those possessed bring what they’ve heard with them, as was the case with the producers of “The O.C” who heard Magnet on the radio.
In this way Magnet exemplifies a presence in international music and media that is quiet and purely artistic, and not at all focused on, or conditioned by the person. His music is so dreamlike, haunting and quietly arresting that it is irresistible, while at the same time making irrelevant the person behind it. In accordance with his personal preferences this allows for a fairly anonymous life for the artist who lives with his family on a small farm outside Bergen.
This is not to say, however, that he is unknown or without committed fans. On the contrary, his fans are many, spread across the world and dedicated -in a way much more so than is the case regarding the exposed stars of pop, because Magnet’s fans are fans of the artist and not the person. For these reasons many of his fans are artists themselves, including some of the big names in music who are warm admirers and eager to say so.
These fans, as well as his perhaps broader domestic audience, have been eagerly awaiting his third album, which is out now in Norway, and will be released across the world this summer and fall.
Produced in collaboration with Jørgen Træen, Yngve Sæthre and Jason Falkner -the latter an accomplice of Air, Beck and Paul McCartney- and recorded in Bergen and Los Angeles, “The Tourniquet” is described by Even himself as “a pretty little album”.
According to most Norwegian critics he furthers the qualities of his previous record: Albeit being slightly more up-tempo and perhaps slightly less sad, “The Tourniquet”, is no less arresting, and according to some it even transcends its predecessor’s profound beauty.
Named after the drink, which Even sampled in a Singapore airport bar, en route back from Los Angeles after recording there, “The Tourniquet” has been called “a silent triumph that will last for a long, long time”. sd
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