Monday, October 16, 2006

Empty City [file under: ghost ambient]

There was a time several months ago that I first though of doing the radio2019 blog. I was walking away from a very successful (in the sense of information sharing, not financial) website about high tech special effects makeup materials. But my heart wasn't into it anymore. I had been talking about doing a blog like this for years (in it's original incarnation it was called 3lectric Sh33p) But the timing never seemed right, but fortune would smile on me and I would find my muse. In this case it was for a singular reason- an album a friend of mine was releasing on his own Strange Fortune label. The album was being described as "(A) new category to discover. The subtle underlying melodic structure of this music means it may be the most listenable "ambient" music you've ever heard, while it's all drenched in a singularly moody, haunted atmosphere that is Tor's real trademark. "

That was enough for me thus radio2019 was born. Just one problem.

In all of my excitement I forgot to buy the CD, and do a review of it! So with out further adieu I present to you what should have been the first radio2019 review Empty City by Tor Lundvall.

It's rare that an ambient album will really strike a chord with me. In 1997 I was blown completely sky high by Biosphere's outstanding album Substrata To me that album defined what modern ambient could (or should) sound like.

Almost 10 years later what Tor Lundvall has done is re-define ambient music by invoking not just an aural landscape, but what felt to be (to my ears) a fully immersed environment.

Even as a write this review in the middle of the day in a coffee shop in Pittsburgh I feel like I am in a desolate seaport city that lacks both people, and the trappings of commerce. Large empty buildings covered in layers of snow and ice surround me. Empty train yards tell stories of the people that used to be, but have ceased to exist.

The music with it's broken hip hop beats, and subtle melodies harkens to an alternate soundtrack to Twin Peaks (perhaps with Ridley Scott directing?) The slow grooves won't linger in your head for days, but will call to you to listen again and again. The delicate tranquility will reveal itself more and more like the layers of posters you see on city walls. If you carefully peel it back more and more of it's history will be revealed. This would probably appeal to not just fans of ambient, but to people in love with Souvlaki era Slowdive, and has certainly taken it's place as one of my favorite ambient records of all time.

download Scrap Yard

Order Empty City from Strange Fortune

Tor Lundvall's home on the web


Hannah said...

Ohhh my.

"That was enough for me thus radio2019 was born. Just one problem.

In all of my excitement I forgot to buy the CD, and do a review of it!"

...That made my day. =D

Derek C. F. Pegritz said...

Ah! Thanks for posting this--you've just reminded me to pick up this album.

Also, speaking of ambient...Wolf Eyes' Human Animal album is a pretty gritty, rusty example of noisey ambient. It's the perfect soundtrack to wandering around in that old foundry just up the street from your place.

micah said...

i felt dirty buying it from salo, but this album blew me away, too. reminded me a bit of tim hecker, especially his most recent one.

Anonymous said...

awesome writeup, desolate seaport city indeed.

now if only I knew how to subscribe to this blog in my livejournal. :)