Samuel Hällkvist has released a mini “album”, consisting of just two tracks. Flying in the face of “Prog Tradition” they are not sprawling epics but superbly concise and innovative tracks lasting a total of nine minutes. Now, this will no doubt start some debate on what can be classed as an album. References will be made, I am sure, to the fact that this is a single, or an EP, but none of that really matters. What does is that Samuel creates music that deserves to be more widely heard, and on that basis I am writing a review.
Samuel has released some excellent and innovative solo albums, he is also known for his guitar work with Isildurs Bane, and his exploration in guitar sounds and textures creates great interest. For this album, Samuel has got together with Natiho Toyota, from Osaka, Japan who produces music for contemporary dance theatre performances, and the mysterious Mindjuggler.
Both these artists appear on the opening track, Kenja, driven forward by Natiho’s percussion which subtlety grabs you. Mindjuggler’s vocals are somewhat ethereal howls, almost yearning in their delivery, Samuel creating the mood and movement through his synthesized guitar as it sweeps over you. The song flows and bubbles along and at around three minutes Samuel’s guitar rises above the melody to give a short but memorable solo, before the song moves towards its conclusion with accompanying hand claps. The second track, Suzuran No Wakare, is a little more urgent than its predecessor, Samuel maintaining the interest with his guitar explorations, adding textures but not overcrowding things despite some inherent complexity.
The two tracks have a bright and positive feel, creating a sense of celebration, perhaps in the wonder that is music, they wash over you and draw you in with repeated plays rewarding you further. The album has been mixed and mastered by August Wanngren, with the guitars recorded by Katrine Amster at Valby Station. The wonderful and spellbinding art work has been done by Sophie Bass.
Overall these two wonderful tracks, hopefully point in a direction that Samuel intends to further explore, contuing the innovation of his ‘Variety of’ albums. I for one will look forward to that, and I hope you will explore Samuel’s work further after listening to this release.
01. Kenja (4:56)
02. Suzuran No Wakare (4:44)
Total Time – 09:40
Samuel Hällkvist – Guitars, MIDI Programming, Arrangements
Natiho Toyota – Percussion, Electronics, Arrangements
Mindjuggler – Voice, Keyboards, Hand Claps (all on Kenja)
Record Label: Boogie Post Recordings
Country of Origin: Sweden
Date of Release: 21st September 2018