Albert Af Ekenstam
Kning Disk KD131
Ethereal Soundtrack to an Imaginary Scandinavian Love Story.
I do like a good ‘entrance,’ something different; something to capture my imagination and this disc did that with knobs on.
The initial CD package was a plain brown envelope/bag and inside that was a plain black CD cover….but inside that is delightful ‘letter’ talking about Af Ekenstam and his songs that are included on the album.
Impressive stuff indeed.
The opening instrumental track, 1996 sounds like something you would hear over the opening credits on a rainy windswept episode of a bleak Scandi Cop Show. The luscious arrangements and lead guitar are quite mesmerising and beautifully lead us into the rest of this debut disc like a mysterious tour guide.
The title track Ashes comes next and it’s a bit more contemporary with Albert using his fragile but rich voice like an extra instrument on a heart shredding love song.
Even now, after listening to the album constantly for two days I’m not sure how to describe it….Lo-Fi? Probably. Folk? Possibly? Alternative? Definitely. But Alternative to what, is the question.
The Devil Bird is almost poetic in a Leonard Cohen fashion; transcending the norm with consummate ease, and somehow sticking in my head hours later.
Following immediately afterwards, Made of Gold has a piano thread that owes more to Bach than any modern pianist and Ekenstam’s voice sounds cracked and pained as a dark drumbeat haunts the background.
What Albert Af Ekenstam does isn’t necessarily ‘new’ but what he does he does extraordinarily well; holding the listeners attention like a new lover whispering confidences into your ear. Walking and The Avenue both fall into that category; being so fragile you find yourself drawn nearer the speakers so as not to miss a word or a note.
The track, or two actually that sum up the album are probably Blood of Shame and the other instrumental 2006 which are both staggering in their complexity but eminently ‘listenable’ by the likes of me.
ASHES is definitely a ‘complete album’ and one that will be impossible to cherry pick on a download site; as it demands your full attention with absolutely no other distractions for the 41 minutes of its duration….or 82 minutes, as you will press ‘repeat.’
Released October 14th 2016