[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
It is as though Lundvall had been holding these pieces back in reserve until the time was right for the public to partake of them. One could say that this album is the lighter, whimsical counterpart to last year’s ‘A Dark Place’. Influences are easily picked out at this stage of his career and yet there is a yearning to what’s contained herein that no amount of emulation could assuage; to put it bluntly, Tor’s work isn’t going to go quietly into the paisley hell of mediocrity which typified the latter part of the 1980’s.
The hit machines had run out of gas by the time our fellow here took up his keyboard and if you’ve perused his site extensively (guilty) you’ll easily see how much effort was required to produce the musical side of things then. No powerbooks, no soft synths, this all had to mainly be done in real time. The editing programs at that point left much to be desired with more than a few musicians out there resorting to the tactics of pre-sets; not the case with Tor, even at this early stage his choices were unique.
How he chose to deploy them demonstrates quite the ear for melody.
All too often artists become beholden to their technique, there are signature cues and tones which are utilized to establish a “style” when what’s been given form and shape are little more than the constraints which will eventually run the whole affair around. He’s come quite a way from what’s contained on this record, particularly in terms of how he now writes. It was a much much different era and if these archeological pieces are any indication, he could have taken the easier route and stuck to making pop music. Would we still be getting anything? Probably not.
You see, bright and playful as these tunes may be there’s a sadness beneath their shiny exteriors. One man and his machines mapping out the terrain about him but with such delicious usage of texture; for all my years of covering him he just won’t let up in the surprise department. This collection of tracks are riddled by divine Scandinavian melancholy but not the weepy sort one finds so many imbeciles adoring; Lundvall takes it all in and ponders the riddles life is fashioned from. His execution deft, his range superbly calibrated to deliver potent results.
Tor Lundvall – A Strangeness in Motion: Early Pop Recordings 1989 -1999