Release Date: May 10, 2011
Record label: Paper Bag Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance, Alternative Dance
Johan Agebjörn is best known as the producer of Sally Shapiro’s two wonderful neo-Euro disco albums My Guilty Pleasure and Disco Romance. He’s also something of a new age composer, but on Casablanca Nights, he’s definitely in dance-pop mode. The album glitters like an ice-encrusted disco ball, giving off shards of brilliant light and warming the hearts of lovers of slick and slightly melancholy dancefloor jams.
The title of producer Johan Agebjörn's new album isn't necessarily a reference to the 1942 Bogart-Bergman film or to the Moroccan city where it was set. Instead, it's almost certainly a nod to Casablanca Records, one of the most prominent labels of the 1970s. While it did sign the likes of Cher, Kiss, and Parliament, Casablanca was best known as a haven for disco artists, including Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Santa Esmeralda, Village People, and a deep roster of one- and no-hit wonders.
Many cherry moons from now, on one golden evening when you’re daydreaming beside one of your final fires, your grandchildren may ask of you, “Gramps, what did YOU do during the great pop wars of the early 21st century?” Well, your life will not have been wasted if you can look them square in the eye and reply “Johnny, I fought alongside the Swedes”. Yup, ABBA’s babies have all grown up and are marching toward the front line of sophisticated, sassy pop; Robyn, Lykke Li, The Knife / Fever Ray, El Perro Del Mar, Nina Persson, Rosanna and maniacal Über producer “Mad” Max Martin. In 2011, strange though it may seem, Sweden is helping lead the glorious revolution to keep that beautiful thing we call ‘Pop’ alive.
Swedish producer Johan Agebjörn is one half of simulacrummy Italio-disco throwback Sally Shapiro, which accrued a lot of mileage on the gimmick that its wispy-voiced chanteuse refused to actually unveil her identity or even make any public appearances. You could say that Agebjörn’s new project, Casablanca Nights, was born from a desire to step out from behind the curtain of coy anonymity, but the press notes make it clear that this hyper-collaborative effort is, if anything, even more ephemerally contact-avoidant. “Mostly done through the internet,” “recorded everywhere from Montreal to London, and Pittsburg to Milan while mastermind and producer Johan Agebjörn was back in Sweden, putting together the pieces.