srijeda, 13. veljače 2013.

David Åhlén - We Sprout in Thy Soil (2009)

David Åhlén - We Sprout In Thy Soil

Takozvana fragilna, nebeska ljepota glasa praćena prstohvatom akustičnih instrumenata. Čovjek je odgojen u crkvi, i to ovaj put nije šteta.
Izmišljanje elegantnih osjećaja.

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Imagine a slightly less operatic Antony crossed with Maximilian Hecker and you might end up with a vocalist who sounds rather like David Åhlén. His heavenly, high-pitched voice is front and center on his debut album, We Sprout in Thy Soil, and that's exactly where it should be. It's also elegantly supported by a small coterie of acoustic instruments (Stockholm Strings, acoustic guitar, double bass, grand piano, spinet, vibraphone) and elevated by some equally beautiful songwriting. The album's a mere twenty-seven minutes long, yet somehow doesn't feel incomplete as the ten songs of faith—“prayers” might be more like it (one song even titled “Altar”)—compensate for brevity with depth.
That Åhlén is the son of a Baptist pastor and was raised in the church comes as no surprise, given We Sprout in Thy Soil's hymnal style. What does surprise is that Åhlén spent several years singing in the band Namur and therefore did so surrounded by loud guitars, drums, and electronics, something that's hard to reconcile with the gentle purity of the new recording. Often his voice is accompanied by a minimal number of instruments, and sometimes no more than one. His agile voice navigates the dramatic melodic turns in “Fountain of Light” with only double bass as support, while in the plaintive devotional “Ocean,” he's augmented by Miriam Åhlén's singing and Christopher Burman's spinet playing, and in “Stir Our Hearts” by the pretty voices of the Uppsala Cathedral Boys Choir. Electronic backgrounds appear on “Arise” but they're largely subliminal, making the album as pure in its instrumental sound as it is vocally. Compunctio gives the release the deluxe treatment it deserves by including a full-colour booklet of photographs and lyrics in the distinctive case housing the CD. We Sprout in Thy Soil is a beautiful recording that hopefully will get the attention it deserves. -

We Sprout In Thy Soil is as fragile as a snowflake – you think it’s melting away as soon as you put your fingers on it. David Åhlén from Bargamossen/Sweden created a melancholic and sad masterpiece with his first full lenght album. These Swedens are just great in everything they do: they had the best film director and writer of all times, Ingmar Bergman, the best film actress who ever lived, Liv Ullmann (at least for me), and they have incredible talented folk singer-songwriters which will and already have heavy impact on the folk scene around the world (not to mention that Sweden has developed a steadily growing indie scene).
David ÅhlénI don’t know how they do it but Swedish musicians throw all their emotions into the music they make and this is something I often miss in comtemporary folk music from inside the USA. Ok, ok, don’t beat me for this, but you know, if you listen to to the music of David Åhlén you become a part of it, you can swim in it, you can let yourself fall and you will be carried away with the music. It’s hard for me not to overestimate We Sprout In Thy Soil because this is folk music, pure folk music. And I’m not talking about American roots music or folk in the vein of country music here, I’m talking about a neutral term to describe what’s going on at the moment. I think Europe (the USA and Candada anyway) is in the middel of a big folk revival or should I say folk rediscovery.
Åhlén’s guitar play is hushed and his vocals are haunting and burdensome at the same time. In some tracks he sings to the piano and in others there are additional strings or female vocals supporting him. There is nothing what is not just plain perfect and I really dig this album. If you love fall as much as I do you have to get We Sprout In Thy Soil because this makes every dark hour to a dark hour you wish would be everlasting (even though it was released back in April 2009). Click here to vistit David Åhlén’s MySpace. -

It is hard not to revel in the paradox of We Sprout in Thy Soil We Sprout in Thy Soil, both at once humbled and uplifted by the sheer beauty of the work. David Arhlen manages to convey the emotional sense of a spiritual world in a stripped down simplicity displaying a raw and unafraid voice. The obvious fragile beauty and wide range of his voice, well wrought guitar phrasing and fastidiously clear full production all create a listening experience that may silence Richard Dawkins, if only momentarily. Often nowadays, with the plethora of ‘experimental electronicia’ and radical forms of music, it feels like being in the midst of a unending renaissance that it is only with the arising of a voice like Ahlen’s to remind us of the existence of other musical forms beyond the encapsulation of technological and structural.
That is often conceived as a thin limb on the tree to step out onto so perhaps another way into the album. To consider it as minimal acoustic guitar with a ‘miked-up’ resonance, as a warm backdrop to unfold the Hymnal poetics, vehicle for Ahlen’s vocal range. The clarity of the recording along with the subject matter may lead to the question of confusion of subject matter and presentation. ‘Alter’, presented with double bass and supporting vocals is a paean to spiritual content entering and forming the sense of a life, reflected in the precision and skill of the form of the music. ‘Ocean’ features a Spinet (harpsichord) as focal instrument, beyond Ahlen’s voice and the backup choral moments. Such touches as with “Stir our Hearts’ with the presence of the Uppsala Cathedral Boys Choir adding backing moves the song construction to a sense of reminiscence that locates back to the pivotal music ages of the Ars Nova and early Renaissance.
I must admit to be fully primed for the content of We Sprout in Thy Soil, other kind souls may view the world with a different light and may see the content as something other than a positive reading. However even if all the words merely described the electronic states of ADSL switches at telephone exchanges Ahlen’s singing and compositional skill could not fail in conveying a pure beauty and conviction.-


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