Review: Ljudvägg – Varande (Purlieu Recordings, Mar 1)

Ljudvägg is a new alias of Swedish sound artist Filip Forsström, who has also released music as Tegelbruk. My efforts to learn more about Forsström were largely unsuccessful; unfortunately, my dizzyingly vast repertoire of talents does not include being able to read Swedish. As far as I can tell, however, he works with both found sound and piano, both of which were used to create his newest tape Varande. From the first track it was already clear that I wouldn’t make it through with dry eyes. The lilting arpeggios of “Hem” sigh like a weary spirit, slowly revealing subtle environmental sounds buried beneath the rich notes. This duality in composition is explored throughout the rest of the album, as Forsström’s expressive playing engages in beautiful battles with various field recordings and textures. An incredible climax is reached on “Textur” when percussive electronic processing gives way to the tinkle of chimes and soft drones, eventually rising to breathtaking heights with the help of jittery hand clapped rhythms and harmonica. None of the facets that make up Varande are particularly unfamiliar, yet together they create a unique musical language that defies description – and makes my eyes quite watery.

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