Eric Wahlforss was living in Stockholm in 2007, making music and art, when he became frustrated with the lack of music sharing and collaboration tools online.
Working with a friend, he decided to build his own alternative to the prevalent platforms of the day—remember MySpace Music or Muxtape?—and SoundCloud was born. Less than two years later, the company had become a model for scalable startups, and Wahlforss and his partner Alex Ljung had raised 2.5 million euros in Series A funding.
But Wahlforss continued to make his own music, working under the nom de electronic Forss. Last week at legendary Berlin club Berghain, Forss debuted Ecclesia, his first album in almost a decade. (Geez, what were you doing that whole time? Oh, right.)
Wahlforss, who grew up watching his mother sing in church choirs, calls Ecclesia an attempt to "recreate the experience of church through electronic music." He traveled the world recording ambient noise in cathedrals, capturing murmuring voices, shuffling steps, and fluttering bird wings. Using SoundCloud’s interface, he layered the soundscapes with choir music ("the music I regard highest") and percussion tapped out in a church using pieces of wood and stone. The tracks on Ecclesia have a quilted effect, woven from patches of recognizably "electronic" beats, echoes, and choirs.
The album sounded and felt spatial, so Walhforss decided to follow his instincts and explore the idea of adding a visual element to the music. Working with Viennese graphic designer Leo Lass and German CGI artist Marcel Schobel, he designed and built a series of digital "sculptures," one for each track of Ecclesia. "Each track has its own sculpture that you enter into and you can simply swipe between them," says Wahlforss, "as you ascend towards the heavens." The app is availble in the App store now, and is without a doubt how you should experience Ecclesia.
One unfortunate side effect of online music platforms like SoundCloud, explains Wahlforss, is the loss of traditional album artwork. But he says that music apps have "opened a whole new door for visuals accompanying audio releases." In other words, it’s a bummer that liner notes are a lost art, but don’t liner sculptures seem like a reasonable alternative?
The full album comes out on June 12th. Listen here.