Sunday, 27 December 2009

Fredrik Ohr - Falling Through The Earth

Read review at Morpheus

Dreamy, glitchy ambient chillout. Fredrik Öhr has created one of the most individual sounding electronic albums that I have heard in a long time. Clearly carried somehow by the tides of current downtempo and psychill, Falling Through The Earth benefits from cutting edge digital sophistication, blissful glitchy beats and global interconnection - yet at the same time this music is delightfully different and idiosyncratic with beautifully beguiling atmospheres, brittle textures and unaffected honesty. Rich, heady flutes waft in contrast to the flicker and flutter of glitch-breaks; plaintive piano and Middle-Eastern pipes interplay over bright crackle on the beautiful, beautiful A Day For Great Deeds; jazzy sounds and forms arise alongside international song in subtle flavours such as the doped double bass and muted wails of Morning Ritualism - dappled synthetic lights playing behind. Vocal content is frequent, yet rarely dominant - poetic phrases in a wistful gated female voice, sampled chants from around the world, Fredrik's own singing, vocoder musings and the spoken word. Not an album of arpeggios and sequencer forms, not an album of overt melodic themes (although some sweetly delicate melodies are certainly present), Falling Through The Earth is the music of shifting textures, deft layering and beguiling beats.

The dominant mood of Falling Through The Earth is one of enchanting, exotic serenity. Crisp, lustrous soundscapes of playful, abstract forms that at times are so light and airy as to almost float away. There is often the sense of relaxing somewhere hot and dry, not anywhere special, somewhere personal yet far off - contradictory mindscapes arising and morphing constantly - a testament to the evocative power of Öhr's music. The gorgeous water movements and tropical environmental elements of Return that are echoed in the subsequent bubbling electro/tabla-beat and idle vocalisations leave the listener floating far from shore on warm waters under a euphoric sun.

As unusual as the music - Falling Through The Earth is fronted by a drawing of tightly crowded figures, clustered in the lower half of the panel. They could have started out as fingerprints - this little knot of faces has a primitive, tribal quality to it - full of aboriginal style patterns, short lines and dots. As the three panel insert is removed from the package these peculiar persons now hang from the upper half of the next panel as if gathered now at the opposite end of the earth. Behind the CD itself a darkened close-up of the same faces here fills the whole tray. The rear of the package presents a tracklist and a discussion of the project that introduces Fredrik Öhr himself and his music. Further sections of the insert carry instrumental credits, poetic sources and production details. Here too are website and email addresses along with a generous listing of thanks.

Stockholm based musician and producer Fredrik Öhr releases his debut album Falling through the Earth through the much respected Aleph-Zero label. Pursuing the label's interest in high-quality international electro-acoustic downtempo; this new album could hardly suit Aleph-Zero better. Fredrik Öhr both fits in like something eminently familiar, in keeping with the 'house sound' and simultaneously breaks mold, sounding fresh and unexpected. The fourteen tracks of the album have a pleasing, confident unity about them yet follow no obvious formula - each piece taking the drift of the album off in a new direction, a meandering journey of discovery that is constantly turning up new surprises. Collaborating artists bring soprano saxophone, acoustic guitar, quena, bamboo flute, double bass and percussion as well as vocal content to the mix. Promotional material describes the music as "a wonderful dreamy and fresh combination of North European atmospheres and textures interlaced with Asian influences, all dipped in 70s psychedelic delicate feel" - yes yes yes! I strongly suggest you explore the E-flier for this release wherein you can read information on the album and the artist whilst sampling every track.

If you enjoy quirky downtempo with an international leaning - this could be one for you. Falling Through The Earth will especially enchant you if you aren't looking for a steady downtempo-trance beat; the rhythms here are delicate and fragile, not regular and thumping. Listen to the E-flier.


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