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Samuel Hällkvist: Return To Center

Album Review

Swedish composer scores electro-acoustic bullseye.

Following 2012‘s Variety Of Loud, this young Swedish guitarist, backed by an international ensemble, offers another showreel of compositions blessed with an intriguing elasticity and an ability to avoid the obvious.

DG Family and RK Excerpt gleefully explores the kind of rhythmic foibles and subtractive complexities which might be encountered in a piece by Louis Andriessen tempered by the calmer aspects of John Adams’ own melodicism. 

This is to the fore in tracks such as Variety Of 6-7 in which gorgeous swathes of yearning trumpet smoothly roll over the undulating terrain of rippling marimba, chiming piano and swaying acoustic guitar. The effect is not unlike that of the plaintive motifs found in the movie American Beauty. 

Such sketches provide us with a view of the world as Hällkvist sees it – warm themes, richly diverse, imbued with a very human and humane touch. If there is a problem with the album it’s that sometimes it’s a bit of a tease. As musical events capture the listener’s attention and begin unfurling to open and develop, too many times the track prematurely fades away. It leaves you wanting more, which maybe isn’t such a negative thing after all.

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