Album Review: Teller – Strive Recess Echo

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I don’t especially like it when bands sneak by me like some silent stranger in the night.  There’s just so much instrumental rock out there these days that it’s easy to miss a few here and there.  I’d like to believe that I have my finger firmly placed upon the crescendoing pulse of post-rock.  How Teller got by me beggars belief.  To my credit they’ve only released one EP back in 2013, but this band hosts a member of Swedish post-rock band Ef (Emanuel Olsson) and was produced by Daniel Juline (also of EF).  “Hello Scotland” is one of my favorite tunes of all time.  This isn’t about Ef, though.  This is about Teller’s first full-length Strive Recess Echo.  An album seven years in the making.

Someone should really do a study on the effects that Scandinavia has on music.  There must be something in the water.  This is a part of the world that’s raised bands like Immanu El, Moonlit Sailor and Oh, Hiroshima.  Not to mention Lights & Motion, who this blog is very fond of.  I’m starting to believe I was born in the wrong part of the planet.  Sure, I get to brag about post-metal sojourner’s Minsk, Russian Circles and even Tortoise.  There’s just something about the sound that comes out of Scandinavia that just gets me.

Teller isn’t new to the game.  As I’ve stated before, they have a member from Ef and indie outfits The Gentle Act Incident and Shiloh.  Drifting through the band’s history I learned that Teller is actually an idea that’s been around for almost 15 years.  From what I can gather (whether this was intentional by the band or not) is that they’re more than a group of writers and thinkers.  They’re friends.  The act of communing as a group to write music was almost secondary to their desire to just be in the same room as one another.  To hang out.  To have fun.  I can really get behind this idea.  The band’s desire to just be with one another and write has translated very well musically speaking.

Teller

Let me get this out-of-the-way first and foremost as I feel it’s the big elephant in the room: you can hear Ef all over Strive Recess Echo.  This isn’t bad thing at all.  I almost welcome it.  But there’s a ton on this record that sets them apart.  Yes, this is another instrumental rock album, but one that houses some incredibly infectious melodies.

One of the first things that really struck me as I was listening to this record was the musicianship.  Teller are impossibly talented musicians and composers.  And the group of folks they brought in for strings and brass are well deserved of any praise.  I haven’t heard trumpets used this brilliantly since *shels. The horn sections nestle themselves perfectly among the driving guitars adding just the right amount of texture.  There were ofttimes while listening that the song would drop and I would get pumped for the horn sections that wailed away with violent abandon.  I’m not trying to take anything away from the guitar, bass and drums.  Teller have managed to write some insanely gorgeous parts where you find yourself swaying lazily only to be brought back to the real world as they hit a crescendo.  Your heart drops into your stomach.

You’ve been here before with other post-rock bands, but it just feels different.  Teller doesn’t stick around very long on any one phrase.  Just when you’ve fallen in love with one part, they switch it up and you find yourself traversing dark tunnels of eerie ambience.  There are even some ghostly vocal undulations peppered throughout. The use of strings are sparse but always seem to be put in the exact moment when you want to hear them.  Any one that’s a fan of pg. lost‘s early work will be right at home with Teller.  A word of warning: If you go into this record thinking it’s just another loud/quiet/loud post-rock band, you’re going to be left wanting.  Sure, they employ these ingredients with aplomb but Teller has a sound all their own.

 

Teller -Gustav Recording Drums

In my past reviews I’ve often stuck to a particular theme in my writing to try and convey what it is about the record that I do or do not like.  I’ve decided to forego all the poetic ramblings for a more straightforward approach.  That isn’t because Strive Recess Echo didn’t inspire me in any way.  It’s because I wouldn’t be able to do the album justice.  It’s been four years since Teller’s last release.  Whatever they did in that four years obviously worked.  They noted that during that brief hiatus they were trying to find out who they were musically.  Where they fit in.  Instead, I believe they carved out their own little niche.

As the genre ages it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out.  Teller does just that.  I’m reviewing this album late.  Strive Recess Echo came out in November completely DIY.  Had I listened to this album while it was still 2017 I would have had no problem putting it in my list of best albums of the year.

Hey Teller, I know it’s only been a couple months since the release but can we have some new material already?

 


Teller Links:

Spotify

Soundcloud

Bandcamp

Teller is:

Erik Banck – Guitar, Vocals & Art work
Torbjörn Henrysson – Guitar
Emanuel Olsson – Guitar, Vocals & sound engineer
Richard Svartz – Bass
Gustav Kronqvist – Drums

All recordings were done by Emanuel.  The album was mixed by Filip Leyman. Daniel Juline produced.

Buried Treasure: Mineral – The Power of Failing

Mineral - The Power of Failing
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Mineral

Buried Treasure is a semi-regular feature that explores some hidden musical gems – the rare and forgotten B-sides, covers, hidden tracks, live versions and alternative takes that deserve some recognition.

The further away you get from a pivotal moment in your life, the more important it seems.  Sometimes you don’t recognize the moment as being truly crucial as it is happening.  It usually takes several years for the weight of it to settle in.  It’s this slow passing of time that lends the moment all its lofty nostalgia.  A nostalgia that fills us to the brim with terrible longing and beautiful memory.  Music has a way of pinning all your best and worst memories to a page.  No band did this to me more than Mineral.

The year was 1995.  I was an awkward Sophomore in high school in Illinois.  My mother was shopping for a birthday present for me and was apparently having difficulty in doing so.  Maybe 15-year-old boys are hard to shop for.  She would end up running into a guy in a record store at the mall (a fellow I would eventually become friends with) who told her to buy Diary by Sunny Day Real Estate.  My mom is a conservative Midwest type and it amazes me still that she took the advice of a stranger in buying a record.  I would devour this album whole.  Something just clicked.  It resonated with me and my extremely impressionable 15-year-old mind.  Diary would change me down to my core and would set me down a road of music that, even at 38 years of age, I’ve yet to stray from.

Fast forward to 1997.  My best friend Steve and I were all over the Midwest emo scene.  This was before GAP got hold of the word and cheapened it.  The post-hardcore scene of D.C. that was the birthplace of the sound we adored wasn’t that far in the rear view mirror.  This was in the early days of the internet.  Steve and I decided we’d start an online “zine”.  Looking back at it now, an online “zine” in 1997 was probably a little ahead of its time.  We called our little project Quagmire 9 and did music reviews, show reviews and collated all information for upcoming shows in a 100 mile radius of where we lived.  Eventually we’d end up getting into the show promotion game.

Imagine 17 and 16 year old kids being able to pull in bands like Cursive and Boilermaker to a sleepy, blue collar town on the Illinois River.

All of this eventually led to a small relationship with CRANK! Records.  We’d get little press packages that had all kinds of release information for bands they were distributing.  This is where we would become familiar with Mineral, a relatively unknown group at the time from Austin, TX.  We hopped in my 1985 Delta 88 and made the 30-minute drive across the river to CO-OP Records in East Peoria and picked up a copy of The Power of Failing, Mineral’s first album.  If Diary shook me to my core, The Power of Failing would resonate with me on a biochemical scale.  Every vital process of my entire being was owed to this album.  I came out the other end of my first listen as something different.

Listening this album in its entirety can still elicit a plethora of feelings inside of me.  A lot of my reviews right here on this wonderful site take on a theme of hopeless joy and redemption.  These are concepts that I often latch onto.  Looking back I would have to believe that it was lead singer Chris Simpson’s vocals that shaped my love for these ideas.  The album is just full of moments where it feels as if the world may collapse in on itself, only to come up for air and become awash in the sun’s healing rays.

“Tears stream down my cheeks only to meet their redeemer and be wiped away.  And there is joy.”

I’m unsure if it was the equipment used or just a lack of money for quality studio time, but The Power of Failing has one of the most incredibly raw and visceral sounds on a record that I can remember.  This rough-hewn sound gives The Power of Failing an almost violent edge.  It makes the melodic portions uneasy but uplifting while the more riotous and distorted parts come across as angry but supernal.  It would be difficult to imagine this record with anything other than the sound it has.  It’s since been remastered and it managed to retain the punch-you-in-the-gut sound that made it so absolutely brilliant.

I remember trying to get all the Smashing Pumpkin and Veruca Salt kids in high school to give Mineral a chance.  They just didn’t get it.  The younger me couldn’t get over how they weren’t moved by what they were hearing.

Mineral’s importance to the mid-90s emo scene is undeniable.  There were a lot of bands doing the Rites of Spring thing back in those days, but none of them did it with as much raw emotion as Mineral.  The lyrics weren’t weighted down in hyperbole or symbolism.  Chris Simpson spoke his mind and put everything in such a beautifully poetic prose.  It tore at your heart and left you smiling with a sort of recognition.  Pardon the cliché, but he was able to paint a picture.  A picture we’ve all found ourselves in but were always bereft of the words to accurately describe it.

“And I don’t know if I should say “I’m sorry” or “Thank you”.  I’ve tried to speak but the tears choke the words.  And I think I finally know what they mean when they talk about joy.”

This is just part of what made Mineral so damn special.  If the lyrics and vocal melodies weren’t tearing at your insides, it was the guitar, bass and drums.  They just had a way of making their instruments cry in torment.  I understand I’m starting to sound a little corny here, but before Mineral and bands like SDRE, guitars and rhythm played second fiddle to vocals.  Listen, I was an idiot kid but Mineral opened my eyes musically to concepts, ideas and feelings that I barely knew existed.

It sounds weird but this all started with my mom.  I honestly have her to thank for all of this.  If she hadn’t gone against her better, more conservative judgement and bought a Sunny Day Real Estate album at the behest of some skateboarding punk kid behind a desk at a record store, none of this would have happened.  Hell, I wouldn’t even be writing this. Thanks, momma.

 


MINERAL LINKS:

Facebook

Mineral Official Page

Twitter

EP Review: Lights & Motion – Bloom

Lights & Motion Bloom EP Cover
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Lights & Motion began in the dark recesses and buried corners of insomnia. Without much sun to speak of in the Scandinavian winters of Sweden, Christoffer Franzen took to sequestering himself in a studio to help battle his condition. I’ve suffered from small bouts of insomnolence as well in my life. It is difficult to find a more lonely and helpless feeling. Thankfully, Christoffer was in great company. Through his project, which began in 2012, Lights & Motion has at once been an escape and a release not only for him but for those lucky enough to listen to his music. Franzen has an incredible capacity to write truly inspiriting and somber music. The most incredible part is that it seems to come so easily for him. It may sound like I’m gushing here but with this latest five song EP, entitled Bloom, Lights & Motion is marking its second release and Franzen’s third in just a little over a year. In January of this year Lights & Motion released the spiritual Dear Avalanche while in October he wrote the score for an imaginary movie called Phenomenon under his own name.

I’ve written in length on the influence one’s surroundings have on creativity. Being able to stand at the edges of town with your arms spread out wide and your head tilted back as you gaze at a million points of burning light twinkling in an endless expanse has to play some role in your creative process. The mind behind Lights & Motion admits that the surrounding panorama and dark winters have had a strong influence on everything he’s done…even if he didn’t know it at the time. The seemingly eternal winter brings with it an urge to create. Through this creation it’s as if Lights & Motion set out to will the changing of seasons.

With Bloom, Lights & Motion comes out of hibernation with hopeful eyes ever set on the promise of Spring’s clement touch. It’s about rejuvenation and being born again. It’s about bursting from the sodden, stark loam of winter to blossom anew. I can’t help but think the song Lion wasn’t so named because of the old adage that ‘spring comes in like a lion’. You can hear a sort of revival present in each of the album’s five songs. Light, airy strings swirl around like a soft, vernal breeze accompanied always by glimmering piano or guitar that tiptoe through the songs as if through a puddle after a spring rain. With each lullaby on Bloom you can almost hear the sleepy staccato of rain dreamily pitter-pattering the tin roof of the shed in your backyard. Franzen states that Bloom, like a lot of his music, was written during the darkest months when he’s longing for the changing of seasons. This longing is the catalyst that enables him to write music with a lighter feel, even while the sky outside is a never-ending blanket of grey. Bloom encapsulate perfectly that longing. Or as Franzen puts it ‘a hopeful melancholy’.

Lights & Motion C Franzen

My only gripe with this album is that I want more. From the opening piano chord of the first track ‘Overture’ to the final chord of the last track ‘Lion’, Lights & Motion has created something here that truly transcends sensibility. Many of the tracks are full of lilting phrases that get your heart pumping new, enlivened blood, but there are moments when the weather changes. Lights & Motion won’t flip the script on you with the kind of abrupt crescendo we all know and love/hate with instrumental music. Instead, the tonal aura changes. Franzen relates that the piano and string textures ‘sound very blue-ish in color and tone’ on his newest mini album. This blue-ish tone portrays the quiet battle between a ceaseless winter and the ushering in of the new blessedness of promise.

Lights & Motion is nothing if not consistent. Every release is consistently beautiful. Consistently gut-wrenching. Consistently full of melancholic hopefulness. Franzen just gets it. On the micro-level he’s growing as an artist by experimenting with sounds and textures. You have to admire how unfailing his creativity is with release after release. The guy is pumping out music at an alarming pace and there are no signs of any kind of artistic lull. It’s difficult enough to try and be consistently creative with short gaps between albums, but Lights & Motion finds a way to do it with a faithfulness to his artistic conviction that I adore. At this point, my only advice to Lights & Motion is that if the landscapes of Sweden have as much influence over your writing as you claim – never move.”

 


Lights & Motion links:

Website: http://www.lightsandmotion.com/

Bandcamp: http://www.deepelm.com/lightsandmotion/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/lightsandmotion

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lightsandmotion

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lightsandmotion/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lightsandmotion/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LightsandMotion

Album Review: Slowrun – Passage

Slowrun
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I want to say the year was 2003.

It was an unusually hot October morning hovering around 2AM.  Stepping out onto my back porch to have a smoke, I peered up into the sky.  At first I wasn’t quite sure at what I was looking.  I can admit to you now that I was actually a little nervous.  It looked completely alien.  Unnatural.  Running down the driveway to get a better view, I was both filled with elation and trepidation.

I stood in the middle of the street and shot my eyes skyward once again.  Before me were beautifully swirling patterns floating listlessly in the dark.  Bright reds and purples suspended impossibly, undulating like airborne waves on an alien planet.  I would learn days later that the sun had experienced a large coronal mass ejection, throwing it’s plasma towards Earth.  I had witnessed an aurora borealis.  And it changed me utterly.

Finnish post-rock band Slowrun knows a thing or two about auroras.  Roiling swells of so many colors, rippling like whitecaps soft enough to sail upon.  The area of Lapland can actually get immigrants moving to the area in search of the mystical Northern Lights.  To live in an expanse so blessed to be able to experience something so magical can make one envious.  In 2003 when I accidentally spied my own borealis (and only due to a once in a lifetime solar storm) it changed my entire perspective on life and the universe.  It shook something loose within me.  I couldn’t shake the experience.  I still can’t.

I bring this up because there are moments in all of our lives where something gets rattled loose; the veil is lifted from our eyes and we begin to see things more clearly.  Sometimes it is one big momentous experience.  Others it’s a series of small earthquakes over time.  Many times it’s a minor, mundane change in our headspace.  Still others it’s a tumultuous life changing event.  This happened to me in 2003.

It happened again in 2007.

I always enjoy hearing how people got introduced to the post-rock genre.  I’m probably considered a later comer.  I first became aware of the genre that would ultimately own almost ever fiber of my being purely on accident.  A lot like how I witnessed the aurora borealis.  I was watching the movie Friday Night Lights.  I didn’t know who or what the background music was, but suddenly the story and dialogue were no longer important.  I didn’t care.  All I knew is that whatever or whoever was playing in the background, it moved something inside of me.  I again felt something rattle loose.  I wanted more.  Again, I couldn’t shudder the feeling.  It was full of hope and moroseness.  Vindication and purpose.  I would soon devour everything the genre had to offer and, 10 years later, I haven’t slowed down.

Slowrun’s 2-song EP “Passage” gives me the feeling of 2007 all over again.  I almost instantly feel nostalgic and start to yearn for slower, easier days.  I’m not the same person I was in 2007 and bands like Slowrun have a lot to do with that.  They are able to capture the genre in a time when it was crawling through my veins and terraforming my soul.  Slowrun doesn’t play overzealous chord progressions chock-full of filler.  And they certainly aren’t in any hurry to get anywhere.  They let their songs build in slow motion upon the reluctant breakers of an aurora.  They build so impossibly slow into a ground swell that once the song breaks you feel swept up as into a storm.  The heavier portions are well measured and few and far between, but never cliche.

Slowrun

A lot of fans of the genre have grown restless with the quiet-loud-quiet recipe of post-rock.  I’ve stated in another review that I can understand their sentiment, but I can also admit that there’s plenty of room in the genus for bands that don’t necessarily feel the need to rewrite the book on instrumental rock.  There’s something sentimental about Slowrun’s writing that I find a bit infectious.  They aren’t going to score any points for pushing the limits of post-rock, but they don’t necessarily need to.  The band has a clear and composed approach to song writing.  Not every band needs to bring a thousand samples and a degree in noise shaping to the table in order to create a beautifully written tune. Slowrun is analytical in their approach.  They’ve come to convey an idea and they refuse to muddy the waters.  This is what I loved about post-rock when I first got in to the scene.  Sure, sometimes it was a bit formulaic, but it was comfortable and safe.

Slowrun has another record entitled “Resonance” released in December of 2015 (listen to the track Introspection).  It, too, is well worth a pick up and deserving of a review.  With “Resonance” the band really shows off its chops.  “Passage” is just that.  A portal into a new chapter for the band.  You can hear a sense of maturity growing in this latest 2-song release.  It’s tranquil but troubled.  It’s clear-sighted and contemplative.  “Passage” is why I fell in love with post-rock in the first place a decade ago.  If you need reminding of what it was about this genre that rattled something loose within you, starting a fire in your belly, you should (re)start with “Passage”.


Slowrun links:

ALBUM REVIEW: I AM SONIC RAIN – HIDDEN

I Am Sonic Rain - Hidden cover
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I have to admit that I’m a bit of a romantic.  Especially when it comes to this particular genre of music.  I can’t help but envision all these majestic landscapes as they pass through my mind’s eye like one of those Classic ViewMaster toys you had as a kid.  I can listen to a song and instantly be overcome with a slide reel show of the Moors in England or the mountains of Montana, all in their sepia tone glory.  This is only brought up because I’ve always wondered how much a band’s surroundings come into play when writing music.  Surely, if you’re surrounded on all sides by a sprawling nothingness and a grey sky that seems to go on in perpetuity, that would have to have some bearing in an artistic sense.

I AM SONIC RAIN hails from Treviso, Italy which sits about 40 minutes directly north of Venice.  I understand you didn’t come here for a geography lesson, but Treviso’s proximity to Venice is important.  If a mountain, a forest or a moor compels one’s artistic creativity then surely being within a stones throw from one of the birthplaces of the Renaissance would.  But it’s not all gambesons and surcoats.  Treviso (and Italy in general) has had a tumultuous history.  The rise and fall of Rome.  The Machiavellian era where assassins plied their trade.  The evils of a devastating World War.  Italy’s history reads much like any other country’s history.  The major difference here is that no matter how dark the days got Italy is the birthplace of some of the most inspired and beautiful paintings, sculptures, philosophy and literature the world has ever known.  It may sound hyperbolic, but I AM SONIC RAIN’S Hidden continues this trend with confident, laconic and inspired songwriting.

According to the band Hidden began production not soon after their last release “Between Whales & Feverish Lights”.  This is album that has been 7 years in the making.  There is a meticulousness and precision that immediately becomes evident upon starting the first track.  This is a well produced album where every note and musical phrase has it’s place in the world.  I tend to worry about albums that feel as if they’ve been produced into the ground, but I AM SONIC RAIN is still able to make everything sound raw and intimate.  The track Bastille really stands out for me on Hidden.  This is a stellar track and the only one that features lyrics.  Bastille is almost Jenniferever-like in style.  It’s melodic, dark and almost has an uneasy air about it.

Hidden is all about control.  I AM SONIC RAIN has an almost surgical precision approach to every bar on the page.  They are a highly disciplined band in regards to musicianship.  The more I listened to this new album the more I fell in love with it.  There are layers on layers on layers here and it will most likely take multiple listens for I AM SONIC RAIN’s genius to shine through.  Hidden absolutely rewards patience and attention to detail.  As a listener you almost feel as if you’re part of the process as there are several “Oh I get it” moments on the album.

I Am Sonic Rain. Image: Alessandro Carlozzo

I Am Sonic Rain. Image: Alessandro Carlozzo

Treviso’s own isn’t a band that throws some cords in a few amps and just starts writing.  They’re mad scientists in a lab creating order out of chaos with volatile ingredients that could start a dangerous chemical reaction at any moment.  There’s so much on this album to listen to and enjoy if you just take the time to really delve into their sound.  On the track “Bengala” alone you’ll hear beautifully layered guitars, an almost 70’s detective show horn section and pirouetting xylophones.  I AM SONIC RAIN even showcases a Suzuki Omnichord.  An instrument, I must admit, I had to look up but am now fully convinced is the raddest instrument to ever grace an album (seriously, Google this thing).

I AM SONIC RAIN isn’t formulaic by any means.  They are a band that employs perfectly a “controlled chaos” modus operandi.  Even in sections where they put the drop on a song and let it unfold (as on the track “Loulan”) you never quite feel like you’re out of your element.  This is both boon and bane.  There will be some who think the album feels sterile (like any good surgical instrument), but Hidden is deeply rewarding.  It is one of those albums you’re going to come back to and think “Hm, I don’t remember hearing a glockenspiel before”.

Hidden is aptly named.  The listener acts as an archaeologist on the hunt for an ancient civilization.  At first glance all you see are the hot, golden sands of an endless desert.  Lifeless trees the only landmark to break the horizon.  Once you are able to set up camp and begin to dig, you start to reveal the foundations of an ancient temple buried for millennia.  A temple hidden from the eyes of man for eons.  This new album is that temple and the deeper you dig the more that is revealed to you.

 


Hidden is available through Deep Elm on December 1st. Preorders can be found at this link: http://deepelmdigital.com/album/hidden

I Am Sonic Rain links:

Website: http://www.iamsonicrain.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsonicrainband/

Bandcamp: http://www.deepelm.com/iamsonicrain/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IamSonicRain

 

TRACK(S) REVIEW: U137 – ADAM FOREVER/THE GREAT LEAP

U137
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Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything; It is the essence of order and lends to all that is good, just, and beautiful. – Aristotle

There are as many ways to deal with pain or loss as there are stars in the sky. Music was handed down to us through the impossibility of timeless epochs by our ancestors. The importance of music throughout our history on this planet cannot be denied. Pre-history man used it as a means to tell stories, mourn the fallen or in ritualistic rites. Paleolithic humans would blow through bone flutes, clap their hands, bang rocks together, hum, whistle or roar.  Music and rhythm is an indelible part of human evolution. We take it, as we take life, for granted. It is almost unfeasible to imagine our short time on Earth without it.

The post-rock and cinematic instrumental genres are difficult to explain. I’m often asked what it is and usually I’m bereft of any explanation. I can never quite define it. “Why do you insist on listening to music that seems to be so damn sad all the time?” is one question I’m often faced with. The answer is easy: catharsis. There was a study published in Frontiers in Psychology that posits that we tend to listen to sad music because it elicits positive emotions. Aristotle suggests that when we overwhelm ourselves with undesirable emotions the music acts as a tool of purgation. There is a gap between what we perceive as emotive in the song and what is actually felt. That gap is what is so difficult to explain.

Oftentimes, as listeners we rely on the musicians to provide us with ablution through their music. Sometimes we forget that the musicians themselves may be writing to deal with their own pain.

In 2013 Swedish post-rock duo U137 released their debut album Dreamer On The Run. According to record label Deep Elm the album has over 40+ million plays on Spotify alone. Dreamer On The Run was a gem of an album. Fronted by Oscar Gulbrandsen and Adam Tornblad of Moonlit Sailor fame, U137 writes texturally deep and spiritually honest songs that dive right into the heart. It’s the kind of music that plays at the edges of that emotive gap highlighted in the study above. On November 17th U137 will be releasing a two song “single” Adam Forever / The Great Leap. Sadly, the release will be bitter-sweet. U137 and Moonlit Sailor lost drummer Adam Tornblad in May of this year after a long struggle with substance abuse and depression. This is Oscar Gulbrandsen’s catharsis:

“Writing Adam Forever was very difficult but also provided me with some much needed therapy. The feeling and sound in this song is my love for Adam.”

 

U137 by Kristoffer Midborn

left: Adam, right: Oscar, credit Kristoffer Midborn

Adam Forever is Oscar’s farewell tune to a man he’s known for over two decades. This is Oscar’s goodbye song and a way to show his appreciation for a man he obviously dearly loved.

Adam and Oscar began writing music together in their teens and would eventually start ethereal post-rock group Moonlit Sailor in Borås, Sweden. Borås is known to go weeks without sunlight. An important fact to note as you can hear the peaceful tranquility of night dot the landscape of their musical library. In Adam Forever you can hear the hope of a new day in its opening notes. It’s almost a lullaby in reverse. It’s a song that reminds you that no matter how bad things get you have to shake off the dark, greet the morning with a smile and know that you’re 13 billion years in the making. But it is also a song that reminds you that the impossibility of you, you’re entire existence, is short and fleeting. It’s a song that reminds you that you’re loved and have the capacity to love. It’s a song of reclamation and reverie. It’s a song that begs you to celebrate what time you have with the ones you cherish because it all has to eventually stop. It stops but it does not end. Much like U137, Adam’s unfortunate passing isn’t the end, it’s a new beginning.

Adam Forever is the kind of track that’s difficult to un-hear. The synth-like strings swell and crash coupled with a tenebrous piano part that manifests the emotive gap. The guitars create a stable foundation and echo for eternity. Just as things begin to look too bleak the drums pound a crescendo and the song takes on an air of penance. You can’t help but feel completely and utterly redeemed.

You can hear Oscar all over the second track The Great Leap. It opens with a frenetic neo-romantic string section that would make Wagner roll in his grave. Beneath all of this are lush and verdant whole notes that surge listlessly in contrast to the dynamic strings. The song finally drops about halfway through with a guitar part that could make your heart melt. It’s exactly the kind of track you’ve come to love from U137. But there’s something more here. As good as Dreamer On The Run is, you can’t help but feel like U137 is beginning to truly ascend. Another full length will be on its way and The Great Leap, though written two years ago for U137’s second album, gives listeners a lot to get excited about.

I don’t know what happens to us after we die. There are countless pages written on this subject that I better leave to minds greater than mine. I know that we aren’t the tenacious, unbroken and resolute beings we pretend to be. Everything comes to an end, but there are those of us out there that leave an enduring and unforgettable footprint behind before we go. I can’t help but feel that Adam Tornblad is one of those people. Through his life we’re left with music that will ride on waves to the farthest reaches of far space and beyond. Would that we could all profess as much. Adam is gone, but his gift remains. Dammit, Adam, thank you.


U137 links:

Pre-order – iTuneshttps://itunes.apple.com/us/album/adam-forever-the-great-leap-single/id1291175783

Pre-order – Deep Elm Digital: http://deepelmdigital.com/album/adam-forever-the-great-leap