Finally after a prolonged release after it’s initial release date of late October 2019, “The Thief Bunny Society” by colourful Swedish composer Per Störby Jutbring finally sees the light of day.
“On The Thief Bunny Society his palette consists of piano, string quartet, cello, clarinet and electronics. It’s orchestrated layers, loops, arpeggios, synths and electronic elements among traditional piano/string quintets, and piano/cello duo. But most importantly, it breaks free of the sometimes weighty confines of the neo-classical genre, as it’s a concept that is squarely focused and themed around childhood. The mysterious, unexplainable and magic childhood. The non judgemental inner world of kids, the imagination. The summer vacation. The Faraway Forest, the Nordic birches. This sense of wonder and wide-eyed adventure is captured in the title track “The Thief Bunny Society ” It precedes a magical animated video directed and animated by Storby himself, which is previewed within the imagery of the album art.”
The cover art and artist photo perfectly encapsulates the whimsical nature of the music on the album. The colourful composer Störby Jutbring has been active for over thirty years now with a background in music as varied as jazz and chamber music as well as a career as a soundtrack composer. His scores have included “Searching For Sugarman”, “Star Boy” and “My Skinny Sister” as well as several albums with New Tide Orchestra and various other projects. For this, his fifth album he is joined by Swedish Malva Quartet, cellists Linnea Olsson and Johanna Dahl, and clarinetist Nils Berg, while he plays grand and upright piano, electronics, organ, celesta and synths.
The album is one in which a world is created. I have used the word whimsical in the paragraph above and it is just one word used to describe the pieces. Others that come to mind include exultant, majestic, grand, sublime and heart-warming (OK, so that is two words). The pieces contained manage to have joyfulness sewn into them even when the strings soar and drone and the piano tinkers like on “Floating” and then you get a piece like the sweepingly beautiful third single “The Lynx, The Fawn and The Squirrel” which is the type of piece that you want to rip the headphones off, turn the volume up and let the music reach every corner of the room and fill it up. There is very much an ambient core to the piece, whether it is through the very subtle use of electronics or the way that the music has been recorded, mixed and mastered. Sometimes music can be quite cold when using similar instrumentation, but on this album there is a warmth that is present.
Störby Jutbring’s soundtrack background as well as his multi-instrumentalist talents serve him well throughout the pieces. He balances moods throughout and is prepared to show a darker emotional side to himself on a piece like the aforementioned “Floating” which with it’s repetitive piano and darker strings drones has a weighty feel. A piece like “Americana” feels like a world has been constructed and you are taking a glimpse inside into it with it’s mysterious reflective opening and finish. The album was preceded by three singles “The Thief Bunny Society”, “Braids” and “The Lynx, The Fawn and The Squirrel” with each of these single showcasing the album nicely as they encompass the various styles and moods of the album and are the tracks most likely to entice an audience.
There is the mention of childhood and the mysteries growing up with non judgemental, wild eyed and openness. The music on the album feels like it is a reflection of this through the eyes of an adult, so there is a tinge of sadness that this period of life is fixed to a certain age from where you are supposed to grow up. Just looking at the various imagery contained in his videos, album art and press shots, you can see his fascination with a more simpler, freer time. These themes plus Störby Jutbring’s musical background provide the perfect combination.
“The Thief Bunny Society” has been a long time coming, but is most certainly been worth the wait. Störby Jutbring is adept at finding the common ground so the music is not too morose, nor is it too twee. The resultant album is an emotionally rewarding one. “The Thief Bunny Society” is out on LP, CD and Digital via Hoob Records.