Tor Lundvall‘s recent record, A Dark Place (Dais Records) is an unexpected, updated version of the artist. Same painterly environment with a modernized sound. Lundvall maintains a perfectly atmospheric backdrop, although here he adds moody smooth vocals for the first time in over a decade. And it works! The synths are tighter and a little less ethereal, yet its distinctly the multi-talented artist’s signature sound. The low chords are thematic of place and loss. He sings about following various types of light and the blank stare of silences “as time slips by”. His harmonies are midtonal and languid paying homage to the elements. On these eight tracks there is a soothing sensibility presented in the form of a very personal statement. I can appreciate the elongated ambient layers broken up by the constant ‘boing’ beat and an unexpected sizzling percussive effect that cuts through on The Moment. This is a digital release on Bandcamp as well as available through Dais in black or purple vinyl.
A Dark Place feels as though it comes from an introverted context. “Can you see me there, in the other room? Can you hear me sigh, as the shadows gloom?” of The Invisible Man reads more like disembodied self-surveillance rather than scaling back memories. Lundvall’s vocal is silky and quite chilly in tone, as you listen it’s as if he’s whispering directly to you, pleasant to the ear and woven into the mix effortlessly as just another instruments. Soft and forward-moving on Negative Moon, with a slow beat and slight bass echo nipping at the early days of The Cure. The album is masterfully mixed by his brother Kurt, with near Pantone-like shades of highs and lows – it’s really quite exquisite. You also get some intriguing experimental percussion, breathy textures and laidback strings that bring this one home.
If this weren’t so far along in his career, or if you are listening to his work for the first time (go to the back catalogue now), you might think this is a coordinated sophomore effort of sorts, as he tries out new things. But having followed Lundvall over many moons, this seems like an incredibly fresh 180° turn. A Dark Place is more its literal opposite, offering a variegated cast of copious light and shadow. On the last track, The Next World, the deep organ core holds together a set of floating keys as he sings “please take my soul away, on a clear eternal day” – and this is likely the closest to pop I’ve heard from this artist. Perhaps it’s quasi-syrupy balances the context of the rest of the record, which is his siren song to the past. Or, perhaps he’s breaking with his past as he croons: “those days are gone, waiting for the next one…far away.” Either way this is a brilliant stroke in the course of (and continual making thereof) an artist’s diverse oeuvre.