Rotem Geffen is the moniker of Swedish (with Israeli roots) singer-songwriter-pianist Nelly Klayman-Cohen who explores the fringes of dreamy pop music with some of the finest improvisers in the local Swedish scene. Geffen hosts in her debut EP «You Guard the Key» clarinetist Isak Hedtjärn (of Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra and Festen), keyboards and vibes player Milton Öhrström (who played with jazz vocalist Lisa Ekdahl) and double bass player Vilhelm Bromander (known for his work Lisa Ullén, Christer Bothén and Alex Dörne).
Geffen’s austere and dark yet surreal lyrics are inspired by the works of poet Paul Celan, novelist Clarice Lispector, and experimental filmmaker Maya Deren. Her music owes much to the seminal albums of Robert Wyatt, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and the hard-edges of Fiona Apple, and her delivery is innocent, sometimes even childish, aware of the colorings of her fragile voice and pushing her vocal timbres to distorted undulations.
The musical envelope of Geffen’s songs reflects inner, chaotic emotional dramas, embraced by the sensitive playing of Hedtjärn, Öhrström and Bromander. Songs like «When Time Has Run» and the title song capture – lyrically and musically – the disorienting longing moods of a love that simply cannot handle reciprocating that love. «Fell against the tree» is based on a text by James Baldwin and relates to another emotional turmoil rooted in accepting one’s own identity and gender. The last song «Malachit Ktana» (little angel in Hebrew), sung in Hebrew, radiates a vulnerable attempt to reach a loved one, beyond language barriers.
A promising debut album.
Nelly Klayman-Cohen (v, p), Milton Öhrström (synth, org, clavinet, vib), Isak Hedtjärn (cl, bcl), Vilhelm Bromander (b)