Unai: Ethereal Romance

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After dawn breaks over the quaint university town of Uppsala, Sweden, many residents find themselves sharing their morning with Erik Möller. An anchor for Swedish National Radio, he kickstarts weekdays with news, weather, and traffic, enunciating with the type of steely efficiency many assume is a national character trait.

Meanwhile, his other studio job–producing stripped-down, romantically charged techno tracks under the deliberately vague moniker Unai–gives people plenty of reasons to make it a late night. His long-delayed full-length, A Love Moderne (released in May on the resurrected Force Tracks label), is full of sparse compositions that make a massive impact, combining springy, dub-infected beats with his own elegant and wistful vocals. Self-described as a meeting between techno and pop soul, it's a straight shot to the heart and the hips for a producer who once focused more on sonic complexity.

"In the late '90s I was very into complicated rhythms and sound atmospheres and got bored," says Möller. "I kept pushing the sound until it didn't hit me in the same way. Then I underwent this evolution where I ventured from the abstract towards something more accessible and emotional."

Growing up in a village of about 400 people outside Uppsala, Möller first heard electronic music blasting from the nearby summer homes of vacationers from Stockholm. Despite the isolated setting he started meeting like-minded music fans–a group of Uppsala producers who called themselves Audionaut–and briefly played in a synth-pop band before producing his first tracks in 1995. Making music under various aliases (including Spinform) for labels like Punkt and Raum, he realized, through enough experimentation and excess, that Unai was his true focus. And by the time he started work on his second Unai album (a follow-up to 2001's Rebel Swing), he had honed in on a concept.

"I wanted it to be obvious to people I was making a techno record with an over-the-top love theme," he explains. "Before I think I was too subtle."

He cut to the chase with the 2003's "I Like Your Style," an inviting series of bubbling beats capped off by his coy vocals, the first time he sang without obscuring his voice into anonymity with effects. The single would have been quickly followed up by A Love Moderne, but a distributor problem temporarily disabled Force Tracks' revival; despite the delay, the album still sounds current in the wake of bands like Junior Boys. With plans to put together more Unai tracks and talk of a new project–simply called I–with Chicago-based label Soul Dub Sounds, looks like Möller will be logging plenty more time behind the mic.

"New Unai [material] is definitely in the works," he says definitively. "I'm a very restless person."