ceo is Swedish native Eric Berglund’s latest and greatest artistic persona, which was apparently planted in his head during a very personal, spiritual moment, but unlike the capitol ‘G’ in God, ceo is always to be written with a lowercase ‘c.’ Perhaps this is a humbling gesture through grammatical aesthetics. Or, perhaps it’s a meaningless footnote meant to drive writers insane. (ceo is also sure to drive web designers insane) 1
Berhlung is [was?] a member of the Tough Alliance and co-founder of the music label Sincerely Yours. Berhlung has some interesting ideas that hover around spiritual notions. He seems to answer questions with larger less original questions. His first album as ceo, White Magic, takes a similar approach, like a Magic 8-Ball, made of recycled plastic. While ceo is branded as a one-man-show, it’s safe to say that he had some help from Kendal Johansson, Sincerely Yours member, perhaps best known for her cover of Big Star’s “Blue Moon.” And while a cover is about the least original thing a musician can do, it really was executed quite well.
White Magic is nothing out of the ordinary. Pop overtones and synths are paired well with classical string melodies. Sound bites are using liberally throughout but most appreciated during the opening of “Oh God, Oh Dear”, in the audible form of a 45-second, haunting feminine howl, followed by a quivering voice uttering “I’m afraid, I’m so afraid but—.” This leads into a seamless transition of Berglund singing “oh, God, oh dear, no self no fear.” Berglund baits the listener with fear, and then hooks the listener with optimism. This is a great track—really.
In a slightly uncomfortable but playful way, “No Mercy” incorporates the sound of an unsheathing blade. The metallic swoosh plays intermittently through the verses of this appropriately titled track. Dark lyrics seem less abrasive over such an upbeat vocal melody. “I’d let you in, I’d let you tie me up and do me.” The blade sound becomes dull, rusted even, by the end of the track. Let’s cross our fingers this is on the next Blade movie soundtrack. Hell, let’s just cross our fingers that there is another Blade movie.
The album’s title track incorporates a hypnotic pan flute and everyone’s favorite Brazilian friction drum, the Cuíca (which was best incorporated by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the song “The Walkabout,” and should not be used again for any reason). Together they add an uncomfortable dash of tribal overtone, which pair well on whimsical 90’s Nintendo video game—but here, not so much.
In its entirety White Magic is worth a listen for those still interested in electro pop. For those who find themselves asking the question, “What is ceo?” as prompted by the band’s website, here is one of the many answers also provided by the band’s website, “ceo is raspberries and chlamydia, it is the shadow and it is a clapping game.”
1 If you’ve ever visited the Touch Alliance website at http://thetoughalliance.com/, and you absolutely loved it, you’ll absolutely love the ceo website at http://www.ceoceoceoceoceo.com/. But if you’re the slightest bit annoyed by a melodramatic artistic website with little or no discernible functionality—visit the site anyway, if only to exercise nerves.