ABANDONED ARCTIC TOWNS WITH NORWEGIAN DUO FROSTPosted: August 21, 2012
Norwegian duo Frost, made up of couple Aggie Peterson and Per Martinsen, are set to release their third album Radiomagnetic on Sept. 17th on Frost World Recordings. While their heavy-on-the-low-end electro-pop is enough to keep things interesting, there’s a bit of backstory that takes the band up a few more notches.
In 1999, the Russian settlement of Пирамида, or “The Pyramid”, as it would be called by the Norwegian administrative authorities, suddenly turned into a ghost town almost overnight. Where around 1000 people (mostly Russian miners) had lived and worked since the settlement was sold to the Soviet Union by Sweden back in 1927, there was now a complete silence.
The dry climate of the Spitsbergen arctic desert has since preserved facilities such as The Pyramid’s own school, swimming pool, football ground and hospital remarkably well. You can even find toys on the floor of the nursery that the kids had to leave behind in the midst of play, as the Russian authorities ordered an immediate evacuation of the place.
In the years that followed, some strange radio signals started to appear across the shortwave AM band in the populated areas within the Arctic Circle. In these transmissions, wonderful pop music could be heard beneath the static. Between songs, a deep and melancholic male voice announced the music in Russian.
Nobody knew where these signals were coming from, until a Russian radio amateur recorded the signals, and traced them back to the exact coordinates of the now unpopulated Pyramid.
In 2008, after re-locating to their native Tromsø to “monitor the melting of the ice-cap”, Per and Aggie received an envelope covered with Russian stamps.
Inside was an old C60 cassette tape labeled Радио Магнитное (“Radio Magnetic” in Russian), and a letter from the analogue-loving radio enthusiast, stating that he had seen Frost perform their soundtrack to the Russian silent movie “Mother” in Arkhangelsk some years earlier, and that he thought this recording might be of interest.
Per and Aggie immediately unpacked their old cassette tape deck, put the tape on, and discovered the beautiful music it contained – the music of a ghost radio filtered through static and time, like faint echoes from a recently lost civilization.
The whole phenomenon was the most haunting experience, and this tape has been the main inspiration during the writing and recording of the new album – taking a look at alternative, electronic pop through a 2012 lens.
If you’ve never heard about Pyramiden, read about it here. I think my next vacation is going to be to the top of the world.