Tor Lundvall, "Nature Laughs as Time Slips By"

Sunday, 25 June 2017 22:48 Creaig Dunton Reviews - Albums and Singles
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cover imageFor his third boxed set on the label since 2011, prolific ambient artist Tor Lundvall collects another four previously released (but limited) albums and a rarities compilation into a diverse sounding, yet thematically unified collection.  Essentially the soundtrack for virtual environments, such as rainy days or visiting a park, Nature Laughs as Time Slips By is another suite of beautiful, if often melancholy instrumental music that covers the vast spectrum of Lundvall’s beautiful work.

Dais

For me, Rain Studies is the defining album of this collection.  Besides the obvious utilization of multiple field recordings of precipitation that appear throughout the album’s 13 pieces, his synthesizer work also does a perfect job at capturing the sound of those chilly, overcast afternoons largely spent indoors.  Both "Girl Through a Rainy Window" and "Music in the Walls" blend these nature recordings seamlessly with minor key electronics and deep bell-like sounds that manage to capture the sonic encapsulation of haunting perfectly.  For "City and Sea" Lundvall adds what almost sounds like a far off horse clopping, making for a bit of almost Foley work among the more traditional musical instrumentation.  At the other end of the spectrum, "Distant Silver Light" features a rudimentary drum machine underscoring the ghostly sounds to make for an extremely diverse and unique sounding piece of music.

This grey mood stretches out into other albums in this set as well.  On The Park, "Lakeside Rain" keeps that someone cold vibe, but also with bits of percussion and hints of melody, which comes together as a moody song with just the right amount of lo-fi character to it.  For "Field Study", nature recordings and drifting tones are melded together, making for a piece that is less musical and more environmental in nature.  On the other hand, "Woodland Path" features Lundvall working with a cheap sounding drum machine and heavier bass, resulting in a more dynamic, song-like piece of music. The same goes for the pulsating structure of "Closes at Dusk," a mass of dramatic synth sweeps that also make for a rich, haunting song.

The Violet-Blue House may be less weather-related, but the sound adequately reflects the dark, yet beautiful hues it is named for.  On the whole, it is more of a glacial piece, gloomy and slow, but with a deliberateness to it.  There may be a bit of percussion and melody on "Her Shadow," but those are secondary to the slow moving electronics to result in a more cinematic composition.  There is a spaciousness to "Night Breeze," with hints of chimes to flesh it out, but as a whole there is a pleasant depressive murk to the sound.  Field Trip, much like the name would suggest, comes across like a trip through various sights and sounds, working with a wide variety of songwriting.  There is a vintage sheen to "Wall Clock," but the mix of music box like tones with what resembles a sputtering computer tape makes for an odd pairing.  For "Green Metal Box," Lundvall goes in a very different direction with what sounds like a burbling 303 bassline blended with a tasteful hint of reverb.

The compilation, Insect Wings, Leaf Matter & Broken Twigs (Volume 2) is unsurprisingly a bit all over the place, consisting of songs recorded between 1991 and 1994).  Given their age, having a low fidelity sensibility to them is not at all surprising, such as the pleasant hiss that surrounds the piano on "A Field in Spring Rain."  Even though "Empty Warehouse (Mix 2)" at first sounds less polished, his blending of chimes and guitar, with excellent panning and arrangement, comes together as more developed sounding than it began.  "The Rain Garden in Spring" is also a mix of reversed instrumentation and obvious keyboards, but even with a simple arrangement the final product works perfectly.  Also a standout is "Net-Wing," which is a mass of pulsating, arpeggiated electronics that is surprisingly rhythmic given the drifting tones and expansive synth pads that are most prominent across all of these albums.

There is a lot to take in on Nature Laughs as Time Slips By but, like the previous two compilation sets Dais has released, there is a unified, singular feel to the material contained on these five CDs.  Taken in as a single set, or album by album, or even as a sampling from all of the discs results in a diverse set of moods and music to be heard.  The mood may not always be the sunniest, but Lundvall’s work is never dull or lacking in variation.

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Last Updated on Monday, 26 June 2017 10:26