In the fall of 1989, in the quiet Swedish town of Hälsingfors by the Tiveden forest, children began to disappear.

Within five weeks, eight children, three to six years old, went missing while playing outdoors at night. After futile investigations within the town, the police organized search parties into the forest. Clothing and toys were found among the underbrush, which were followed as far into the woods as the dense growth allowed. But none of the children was ever found, nor ever any evidence of violence or struggle.

As the weeks passed, the well-educated community began to recall, in private whispers lest they be ridiculed, the near-forgotten local folklore of the nattväsen, the night creatures of Tiveden, the mythical forest of the gods. Grandmothers in the old days would tell stories of the animal-entities of the forest to curb curious children from venturing close to the woods. These stories never described the creatures, but spoke of them emerging at nightfall, only appearing to children younger than seven in the form of imaginary friends, to play with them, then lead them back into their forest.

The eight children of 1989 were never found, but no more went missing as the community hastily tightened security. In a few years, the incident had all but faded from collective memory.

Twenty-eight years later, the Swedish psychedelic ambient electronic music duo Carbon Based Lifeforms, who had lost a playmate to the forest spirits as children, composed a new track for their European concert tour, called Nattväsen.

The lyrics contained an audio recording of the Hälsingfors Chief Inspector’s town hall report following a failed search party, and of an elderly lady in a local mental asylum who claimed to be the only child ever taken and returned by the night creatures.

The unfamiliar narrative in an otherwise instrumental music format drew scant attention among the concert crowds.

But one night, in a small EDM den in Hamburg’s Reeperbahn club district, a Japanese anthropology exchange student by the name of Eri Takaki, who had grown up next to the Aokigahara suicide forest (Vice documentary), found herself quite unable to ignore the lyrics. As the band kept playing, first disbelief, then years of near-extinguished trauma broke forth and rose steadily upward through her chest, until she had to scramble her way through the crowd to the parking lot to be able to breathe again.

A year later, during my third semester as a journalism major, Eri’s little blue notebook came into my hands in a backpackers’ hostel in Prague, the last place where she had been seen before going missing herself.

Backpackers’ hostel, Prague

The following pages contain an account of my personal journey into this mystery, of how I flew too close to the sun in my three years of travel and investigation to unravel a global enigma, and came back from the edge of human reason and the natural laws that allegedly hold this world together.

8 thoughts on “Nattväsen

    1. Anonymous

      Hi Daniel,
      Yes, the story is not true. I am a big CBL fan, and I liked Nattvasen because of the mythical lyrics, so I threaded together some other stuff to make a mythical magic realism story out of it that would be interesting and intriguing to read, and would make people wonder if it was really true.


      1. Anonymous

        If so you should’ve added a note that this is fictional. People believe in everything they read online these days. Please remove all references to us and our music.


      2. Sam

        I read the article assuming it’s all reality and the true story behind the song and I admit it’s kind of believable. Then I saw Daniel’s comment and was… disappointed. I think it’s a disservice if you do not add a clear disclaimer to the BEGINNING of the article as it appears on top of Google search for anyone wondering what the song is about.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Shahidul Hoque

    Neel, I have just come across this story and it’s really amazing. I am an avid fan of CBL for long years and didn’t realize someone could make such a good story on this music. Thank you so much.

    Good greetings from Opar Bangla! 🙂


  2. Graham Last

    Totally captivated and entranced by this magical musical gem, but somehow deflated to learn that the narrative has no truth. Anyway carbon based lifeforms are undeniably true geniuses.


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