Tor Lundvall - _Yule_
(Strange Fortune, 2006)
by: T. DePalma (7 out of 10)
Every year in America, immediately following our Thanksgiving celebrations, radio stations inexorably flood the airwaves with the same old Christmas music. Exhausting rotations of Nat King Cole, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra and those insipidly caroling felines prepare us for the big spend before all those gloppy leftovers have been tossed from the fridge. Soon the plastic pageantry of the holiday has replaced the natural lure of this beloved season and all of its chilling transitions. Thankfully, painter / composer Tor Lundvall has a different idea of how to celebrate this winter's festivities.

_Yule_ continues the theme of a world at rest which was central to Lundvall's previous effort, _Empty City_. Whereas the full-length took nearly a year to write and record, this EP was conceived and set down between November and December 2004 with no less efficacy, as it distills years of memory and miscellanea into 47 minutes of sound Lundvall refers to as "blurred and distant". (Most of the tracks run a brief two to three minutes until the twenty minute rarity "Falling Snow" closes the disc).

Once again these soft keyboard repetitions float from mysterious train rides with the poetically subdued voice of the station to tender portraits of holiday anticipation. It's not meditative so much as it is momentarily lost -- the feeling of a daydream made aware only in the disconnect. Although strongly impressionistic, several tracks make their intent clearer. On "Christmas Eve" and "12:00 AM", Tor exerts not only his youthful voice to lull and light the scene of a young child's bedroom, but also the requisite jingling bells to accent the folk-legend's phantomic toil. The result is perhaps more foreboding than tradition permits, but a sense of innocence and wonderment remain. Similar atmospheres are present throughout his paintings, where observably silent landscapes invite strange and costumed characters to wander through the forests and fields.

Other pieces offer more light-headed nostalgia. "Yule Song" contains sinking nylon sliding beside airy keys and a contented voice, while "Fading Light" has a kind of new age reverence. "January" winds down with melancholy observations about rain melting the snow and passengers that pass blindly at the train station once again.

Despite its pre-Christian connotations, _Yule_ has less to do with re-invoking European ancestry or specific customs than it does with reawakening imagination in the current era. Of calming portraits of sound and appearances formed between the mirror of winter's sky and soft-piling snow on the ground, wonderfully open to interpretation.


(article published 18/12/2006)

5/18/2006 T DePalma 8.5 Tor Lundvall - Empty City
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