[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Does it ever. While we as a race go about our trials and tribulations, the background which surrounds us moves at a much slower pace. People chase trends, technology becomes ever more invasive; the temporal pursuits of ego and avarice come to define what passes for culture. Everywhere you look there’s an ill-defined belief that progress must be made at any cost, no one bothers to ask what the consequences of all this unchecked vanity are. I don’t know of many who are willing to set down their devices to seriously consider just where we’re all headed and the price we’re going to pay.
With his third set of work now collected, Tor Lundvall is one who not only considers these things but through what he composes he allows us to as well. One’s mind wanders far and wide while playing through these five discs and the questions begin to arise quite early on in the proceedings. For starters, he’s given us ‘The Park’ in one complete entry; no need to flip the vinyl this time. Now that the mind has been quieted, let us move onto the other offerings.
‘The Violet-Blue House’ is a place I’ve been before at various points in my life, I think most of us have. Slow moving shadows which usher in the myriad shades of evening is what this album is about. In younger days I used to walk around my neighborhood and watch as the lights began to emerge from behind people’s windows; children were called inside by their parents and streetlights overhead began to activate… their dulled yellow beams gradually bathing everything in a befouled, jaundiced coating of familiarity. In later years, we began to move our activities inside and I never could shake that strange feeling of alienation and seduction those hours between 5 and 7pm would bring out. Lundvall concludes with two long-form compositions that only add depth to an already mysterious locale.
With ‘Rain Studies’ he keeps us inside yet again to reveal the unending microcosm contained in each drop of rain that hits the pane. From behind the glass his focus is intent and unwavering, this remains the only release he’s yet done which sounds better the louder it is played. The storm he recorded for accompaniment does not ever let up, I wonder if it’s all just some massive loop he himself used whilst painting. It’s a lonely, insular little realm he’s depicting here and not once does anything distract from the dour, grey nature of where he’s coming from. I’ve often just stared out at the rain as it falls but I didn’t think anyone would put a score to it and that’s what has happened.
Now we come to the more unusual parts of this set, two albums which obviously share a connection. ‘Field Trip’ is an expanded version of the limited cassette he released in 2011 of the same name. This time you get the full cut, however and let me say that it lives up to it’s name. Numerous settings are explored by Tor with his equipment which makes for a disorienting experience at times. What I like best about it is that it shows he remains connected to his experimental beginnings; something you may or may not have noticed is that his music is becoming more and more spacious, allowing the tones he picks more room to breathe and develop. With disc four, however, he demonstrates that his enjoyment of strange arrangements remains.
Some time ago, when ordering the aforementioned tape I was informed that it was in line with his first ‘Insect Wings’ compendium of outtakes and forgotten pieces. With the release of a new volume this strangely engaging symmetry has been revealed in total. I have to say that when he goes digging into his archives like this the results truly are remarkable, never once does he repeat himself. If you’d been curious about exactly why he’s decided to make ‘Insect Wings, Leaf Matter & Broken Twigs Volume 2’ bring down the curtain to ‘Nature Laughs as Time Slips By’ don’t be. These twenty two tracks reveal a Lundvall completely under the spell of his muse, exploring all manner of creative avenues with a fearless abandon. He does not make music like this anymore but this demonstrates where he’s come from and it’s a damn fascinating place.
It all ends with such quickness, sadly. No, this is not some kind of farewell but I get the sense that we won’t be hearing from him for some time so soak every nuanced song up on here as deeply as you can. I suppose what I take away most from all of this is admiration at his refusal to join the queue and submit to the routine of only releasing singles and EPs; this music demands attention but does not ever become strident. It is that gentle tapping on the door or a soft word in your ear. While the world grows more garish and grotesque we’ve been gifted a compendium which is designed to be escaped into. Even he cannot resist the pull, the line between his visual and audio endeavors has been obliterated.
A road less taken, yes, with a payoff that is all the sweeter.