Markus Svensson does not come across as a particularly hopeful guy on “The strive, the strive, the strive..”, the latest single from his project The Tarantula Waltz. “It was always pitch-black here/ Now it has turned cold,” he sings, accompanied by a lone acoustic guitar and sounding like he’s standing on the edge of the world.
In a sense — in several senses, actually — that’s true. When we asked the Swedish songwriter about the meaning behind the song, he painted a bleak picture. “The world is coming to an end, the Antarctic ice is melting faster than ever. We’re fucked,” he said.
The accompanying music video, shot by Hungarian filmmaker Mátyás Manó Buday over the course of three weeks in Iceland, communicates the same feeling of despair and desolation. But also like the song, it has a stark kind of beauty that stands in for hopefulness, serving to remind the listener/viewer that there are still things in this world worth breathing in and holding onto.
One of those things, perhaps, is friendship — like the bond Svensson shares with his friend and sometimes-producer Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth. Matsson appears on “The strive, the strive, the strive..” playing alongside Svensson on a classical guitar. It’s something you might not hear unless you were listening for it, but it serves as yet another bulwark against the existential storm Svensson sings about on the track.
In any case, not all of The Tarantula Waltz’s music is such a bummer, for lack of a better word. “This is the least optimistic song on the album,” Svensson explains, referring to his forthcoming Blue As in Bliss, due out in February 2017 via Whoa Dad! We’ll have to wait and see if that’s true, but for now, check out “The strive, the strive, the strive..” above.
And below, watch another clip of “The strive, the strive, the strive..”, this one an intimate live performance from Zagreb recorded earlier this year.
Blue As in Bliss Album Artwork: