Sunday Night Journal, January 28, 2018
52 Poems, Week 5: Conscientious Objector (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Miike Snow--"Sans Soleil" (live)

This is a guest post from Rob Grano.


You are unlikely to have heard of this group, or heard this song, unless you’ve watched early episodes of the TV show Justified, in one episode of which this song was played over the closing sequence. I liked it very much, but can’t remember how I tracked it down, eventually discovering that it was by a Swedish group, Miike Snow. The group consists of two Swedish multi-instrumentalists and the American singer Andrew Wyatt. I liked pretty much everything about the song – the soulful vocal, the touches of electronica, the memorable tune – and it became a new favorite.

A couple years back while looking around on Youtube I found this live version of the song and it just blew me away. The smoothness and perfection of the recording made me wonder if it were possibly lip-synched or sequenced, but the more I watched it the more it became clear to me that that wasn’t the case. There are enough variations between it and the album version to mark it out as different, not including the length, which is about two minutes greater here.

I’ve come back to the video many times, and it strikes me as a performance with an almost classical level of precision. There’s not one bad note anywhere, and while it’s possible that any flubs were fixed after production, the fact that it was a live Myspace transmission makes that seem unlikely. Of course, the recording was done through the board, so the balance we’re hearing is not what it would have sounded like live in the studio, but that’s unrelated to performance quality.

What’s also interesting to me is that nothing being played is actually acoustic except for the little xylophone-type thing. The singer is playing an electric piano, and the other guys are all working with some sort of synthesizer. To my mind this only increases the attractiveness of it, because there is unexpectedly no “coldness” to the electronics here at all. In fact it all sounds incredibly warm and organic. Yet it’s almost all electronic except for the vocals, which are lovely -- smooth and precise, close harmonies and all. Obviously the basic drum pattern is sequenced, but the rest of the sounds all are played live along with that sequenced pattern.

I could be wrong about it, but if this is a true live recording, it’s rather an amazing thing, and beautiful. I’ve never really run across anything else quite like it.

(I’d add that there is another song from the same performance on Youtube, “Animal,” which is a more energetic “techno” type thing. Very good, but not up to the level of “Sans Soleil”, in my opinion.)


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That is very nice.

Are any of you familiar with Sleeping at Last?


I'm not.

I like this a lot. The knob-twiddling is kind of fascinating. I'd like to hear an explanation of what they're doing and how it works.

May just be me, but I like it.


One of their songs was in Up.


I'm not keen on the singer's voice, but otherwise I like it.

It's the lyrics, really, that I like:

Our universe was brought to life
That we may fall in love
Every time we open up our eyes

And I heard it on that detestable TV show.


Gray's Anatomy? Seems like I've seen that mentioned about a lot of music: "Used in Gray's Anatomy Episode..."

"The knob-twiddling is kind of fascinating."

Is that a guy thing? I just found it a lot of fiddliness. ;-)

Heh. Maybe so. It's not the twiddling itself, but curiosity how the twiddling is related to the sounds produced. It would be fun to play with.

"It's not the twiddling itself, but curiosity how the twiddling is related to the sounds produced."

Yeah, that. It's like playing instruments, but not.

Mostly there doesn't seem to be any connection between the sound and the twiddling, but sometimes there is. I notice at one point one of them is wiggling something and getting a vibrato effect. Well, assuming he's making that particular sound, which is another odd disconnect in watching it. You hear a guitar, you can see somebody playing a guitar, but with knobs you can't tell what's making a particular sound, especially if there are multiple twiddlers.

The funniest thing is to see somebody playing those electronic drums which are just a set of surfaces with no body to speak of.

I just like how his first name has an extra "i". I want to be Stuu now. Music is good tooo.

Yes, it was from Grey's Anatomy. I think I mentioned before that there is a website that lists every song from episode of their 14! seasons.

Another one I like is Was There Nothing by Ásgeir, who is from Iceland. Again, it's the lyrics.

Was there nothing but the hush of night?
Had a boat, don't remember where
Did you flee from what was said and seen?
Truth's not true under the light of lies
Raise your sword and shield

Was there more than just the prose of night?
Had a grave, don't remember where
Beaten down, now I lift up my prayer
Broken promises have set the snare
Both sincere and not

Was there nothing but the blessed night?
Had some gold, don't remember where
When does faith lift up its head so high?
Oh my Lord, won't you please tell me why?
Faith bestows power

Was there nothing but the hush of night?
Had a treasure, but I don't know where
Did you flee from what was said and seen?
Yes, the good was not without the bad
Raise your sword and shield
Yes, the good was not without the bad
Raise up your sword and shield


Excellent lyric. I haven't listened to the song yet (I assume that's where your link goes).

I actually corrected "Miike" to "Mike" at first, assuming it was just a typo. Then I saw it was repeated, and also that way on the video. From Wikipedia:

'The name "Miike Snow" is said to have come from one of their friends named Mike Snow.[3][8] Contrary to suggestions or statements to the converse,[9] the spelling of "Miike" does not derive from the Japanese film director Takashi Miike;[3] Pontus Winnberg states that, "When we sat down to come up with a name one of us got an email from a mutual friend by the name Mike Snow. We liked it and added the extra "I" because we liked the look of it. We once found a possible classic Swedish film on our tour bus once, called Jävligt Jagad. It's a bit like if Bergman's ancestors would make a movie inspired by Takashi Miike".[3] Miike Snow have, however, indicated that they are fans of Miike's work, specifically noting Audition, Visitor Q, 13 Assassins, and Ichi the Killer.[10]'

Please tell me that's confusing.


If I had bothered to remove the footnote numbers it probably would be less so. I don't think the stuff about the "classic Swedish film" has anything to do with it.

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