Tor Lundvall - _Empty City_
(Strange Fortune, 2006)
by: T. DePalma (8.5 out of 10)
New York-based painter and musician Tor Lundvall has been a fixture of the international neo-folk scene for years. Those still unfamiliar with the name may best know Lundvall's work as the cover piece to many Sol Invictus records, and he has, on occasion, been a musical collaborator with Tony Wakeford. His latest disc, _Empty City_ is based conceptually on local surroundings; a world that runs, mysteriously, in the absence of flesh and bone.

Building on a string of albums which captured select aspects of the natural world (_Ice_, _Mist_, _Under the Shadow of Trees_), Lundvall has totaled his stylizations toward a dream-like atmosphere of otherwise lost or unnoticed activity. Tracks like "Scrap Yard", "Night Work", "Early Hours" and "2:00 AM" yield secluded observations in subtle, uncluttered synth compositions that integrate machine samples amongst distant industrial beat-makers. Not the "iron giants" of power electronics, Lundvall has created a ghostly metropolis performing unknown tasks that come to us in soothing, restful melodies similar to Akira Yamaoka (of the "Silent Hill" video games) -- qualities ironically set against the album's curious insomnia.

Although not exactly an innovative or challenging album -- it carries much of the same timbre and drifting atmosphere used on past records (especially the sister-album _Last Light_) -- the command of melody and tempo within this theme, as well as the complete lack of vocals, yield some of the year's most well-crafted, addictively settling music.

It's an interesting paradox. Rounded out by Lundvall's paintings of scorched Autumn landscapes and graven architecture, _Empty City_ represents a sly transformation of mediums -- one that reflects the unstoppable motions of a multi-layered existence.


(article published 18/5/2006)

12/18/2006 T DePalma 7 Tor Lundvall - Yule
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