Jakob Lindhagen – Paces.

So, this album came out late September 2017 on Feeder Recordings (vinyl with Digital) and 1631 Recordings (Digital only). I had looked forward to hearing it after being blown away by his “Skörheten” release, but the nature of trying to balance the variety of releases sent my way (which is at tipping point, no pun intended) has seen me hold off on reviewing this. In fact, I made sure I didn’t listen to it so I could enjoy it as a whole as opposed to knowing certain tracks before hand.

Jakob Lindhagen works on film soundtracks such as the previously mentioned “Skörheten”, as well as “Brottas”, “Push It” and others. Because of this, in my opinion, he stands out in the Solo Piano/ Modern Classical field because his ears are more attuned to listening and he knows how to construct pieces that bring forth mood, textures and feelings.

According to Lindhagen when it came to recording the album “I was recording with equipment that wasn’t always functioning properly. For example one microphone occasionally started to pick up radio frequencies. At times it was really faint and turned out to be a detail just adding to the overall impression, so I decided to keep it. Other times it was really “in your face” and it inspired me to incorporate it into the composition.”

“Kenopsia” starts the album with swirling alien like electronics accompanied by fragile piano lines. The piano sound is natural with the constituent elements captured. A haunting, howling sound floats in the background presumably from the saw. Looped decaying noises briefly make an appearance and disappear not long after they have arrives to leave the piano almost alone with those swirling electronics nearly being out of ear shot before further sections of noisy decay break through.”Kenopsia” refers to the eerie or forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people, but is now deserted. This is referenced musically by the melancholic piano lines and the haunting and decaying sounds which have a ghostly quality.

“Shelter” field recordings of people talking, ambient like electronics and slow stark piano form the opening of this track. This is a slight operatic feel to some of the background noises and a slicing sounding cello cuts through with deep tones. Electronics take over alarm like breaking up sections with brief zither clangs over the piano which is jostling with the electronics for the center of attention, which it loses as the noisy electronics take over the sound scape engulfing almost everything else before the stark piano emerges and leads the track to completion.

“The Tipping Point” appears as the first fully fledged solo piano piece until saw, violin and cello make their impression. A brief haunting wind soaked melody appears with the same feel as the string section which them returns to put its stamp on the music and elevate it up more to a piece, that like the title implies, is full of musical pointers to something or someone going over the edge. This is felt with the slow deliberate pace of the piano and the long forlorn deep drones constructed.

“Forgotten” a hopefully melody is played out with natural warts and all piano sounds. The musical tone is one that is uplifting with just a hint of being held back with a little bit of restraint. In the second half of the track the change in pace and feel of the track is noticeable. It is almost like a piece with two sides to it that transforms just in front of your ears, like in a movie or a real life situation where you are a aware something has just happened, but are not sure what did happen.

“In the Machinery” rumbling drones and repetitive snatches of fragments of dialogue are laid over a bed of introspective piano which has a totally different feel to the accompanying electronics. They electronics have a breaking down feel to them. Suddenly the track is turned on its head. There still are electronics rattling around (of a different nature), but it’s the introduction of violin, accordion and the increase in pace of the track that changes the complexion and feel of the track. From a track that I wasn’t sure of the fusion of the electronics and the piano to its second half when I wanted more of it. Towards the end there is an almost reprise of the beginning, but in my opinion a better fusion than that which started the piece.

“Overcoming” field recordings of people talking manipulated electronically start of this track with a very minimal piano section that straddles many emotions or feelings that the instrument can convey such as stark, austere, melancholic, sombre, but not falling into one set sound. The piano is joined by viola, what appears to be saw and scattering electronics which create quite a storm like feel/sound to the track. As the elements drop out and electronics splutter to their death the piano is joined by violin with long flowing lines, the piano itself is more intently played with a flowing feel as the sound scape once more picks up with the other instruments mentioned previously filling the space around these two instruments. My interpretation of the music in relation to the title would be the way the music changes and elements come in and out and the changing of the feel of those instruments indicates a change of feeling and mood. This is best shown subtly in the way the playing of the piano changes the mood expressed in the piece.

“Trepanation” a post apocalyptic science fiction sounding rumble greets the listener with a feeling of transmissions from a broken space craft which is paired alongside long drones and gently caressed but totally intentional piano keys. If the title is to be taken literally, then the early post apocalyptic sounds refer to the drilling of the skull to treat health issues. It can also refer to other parts of the body to relieve pressure, which is what I think the intention of the track is all about – relieving pressure. The piano has a melancholic undertone, which when combined with the electronics could be a reference to the pressure and strain inside someone with depression or who is going through something that requires release.

“Afterwards” reflective, paced, natural piano lines unfurl with almost weeping sounding violin that has a tortured core and is joined by cello to give it that deeper tone. Musical saw provides a melody reminiscent of soaring ambient lines that compliment the piano so well. When all the elements come together the sound is amplified and uplifting. At no point has the album tried to force the issue with its intensity or its epic-ness, which is why this track works so well as it shows the tracks have been varied and the album’s track listing has been selected to get to this point. It is not just a repetition of what has happened before.

“S,47” starts of very quiet with piano keys being slowly played inducing a rippling affect which is joined by further piano parts which start building suspense with the very slight increases in intensity of the playing. The music starts to invoke a film scene of a grand scale involving love, loss, emptiness, solitude, reflection but then the tone starts leading you down dark places with the deeper tone and the increase in pace. This is accentuated by the way the notes hang as almost as if a gong had been struck and let to ring out to silence. The piano returns to those emotions listed before, but with more intensity as if something is being resolved and action is being taken. If this was a film the leading man would be rushing out of the house, keys in one hand, jacket in the other on his way to resolve who knows what.

Now that I have had the chance to fully submerge myself in the album there is a little regret that I didn’t get to it earlier, as this would have been jostling for a spot on my best of list for last year. I have said before about my admiration for Lindhagen’s work, so I will simply repeat what I said about “Skörheten” and apply it to “Paces”. Totally recommended.

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