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Carbon Based Lifeforms (CBL) are Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad (né Ringström), both born in 1976 and based in Göteborg, south-west Sweden. They met when both 15 and are still, amazingly, working happily together, over 20 years later.
CBL itself was formed in 1996, as an offshoot from other projects, but it soon became their focal point, culminating in their first release on ‘mp3.com’ in 1998.
Even before this, 1996’s “The Path” is their unreleased and highly sought-after demo that any listeners fortunate to hear the contents will immediately recognise as the genesis of the group’s unique sound.
The duo signed with the celebrated Lyon-based ‘Ultimae’ label in 2002 and have since released four official, full-length albums:
‘Hydroponic Garden’ in 2003,
‘World of Sleepers’ in 2006,
‘Interloper’ in 2009 and
‘Twentythree’ in 2012.
Their music has been extraordinarily well received by connoisseurs within the ambient scene and clearly beyond, since in 2012 they were also commissioned to write the soundtrack to the independently-produced movie ‘The Mansion’, whose release date will be announced in due course.
In addition to their own work, they have actively participated in successful collaborations with several other artists, including Magnus Birgersson of Solar Fields in a project to compose the music for the Swedish dancer Olof Persson’s ‘Fusion’ performance in 1999.
Johannes and Daniel aim to combine earth and space in their music. Using the combination of nature and technology as the main inspiration for their work, they like to represent both the positive and negative effects that this collaboration can lead to, including the negative impact that incorrect technology can have on the environment.
Through this synergy of ideas, their creations often seem to reflect the natural landscape of the land of their inception; indeed if you listen to ‘Photosynthesis’ on the ‘World of Sleepers’ album then you find yourself feeling genuine concern for the forests. Given the source of the quotation in the song, perhaps this is the point. If so, it’s a damned good one and epitomises the aim of the group in pricking the conscience when it comes to something as critical as the environment.
In 2009 they performed at ‘Cosmonova’, the IMAX cinema within Stockholm’s Museum of Natural History, with a backdrop of nature-inspired imagery from across the world – and then beyond too, with the International Space Station taking an impromptu tour of the Solar System. CBL’s music was the perfect audio accompaniment to this visual feast. The gig sold out way in advance, so they scheduled another night, which also sold out. Those who attended will readily attest to an unforgettable experience.
Johannes often creates the building blocks of sounds and harmonies and could happily tweak sounds forever, whereas Daniel develops the rhythms and sculpts the ideas into tracks. It remains unclear which of them derives the greatest pleasure from manipulating the distinctive, squelching sounds of the Roland TB-303…..certainly it is much more fun than any man is entitled to have whilst twiddling electronic knobs…..
Their popularity has increased over the years thanks to regular attendance of festivals such as Ozora in Hungary, plus what appears now to an annual performance at Camden Town’s “Inspiral Lounge” in London. No doubt larger events beckon but those of us here in the UK hope for more than just one night a year (admittedly though, it’s better than xmas!)
Their creativity occasionally overspills into what become solo projects. The results can be enjoyed by listening to releases from Thermostatic and Digidroid, as well as Daniel’s own SYNC24, with the recently-released second album ‘Comfortable Void’ providing a welcome complement to CBL’s already distinctive style.
CBL’s plans for the next few years include a lot more live gigs at festivals across the globe, although no new album is foreseen for at least two years, so get your ears around the releases that exist now and get yourselves to a gig near you for a memorable sound that can all too easily become the soundtrack to your lives.
In their own words, “We will plant new seeds in our hydroponic garden and watch them grow.”
Love and light.
…jim & joanne sharman, oct 2012…