Mikael Lind – Intentions And Variations (Morr Music, 2016)


Lind made the perfect choice in the cover artwork for his new EP; a Victorian era painting of the Leonids over North America it captures the timeless beauty of his principally acoustic music within. Born from simple piano movements, each piece is suffused with a vision of brush strokes that rework its primitive core, electronic processing stretching and reversing notes into beauteous elongate expressions or siding with grumbling guitar drones whom possess an aggressive swagger that grinds the pieces onwards. This doesn’t just feel like music, it feels like paintings born from sound.

The title track opens the EP on slow, measured piano strokes at first, setting a tentative and introductory pace to establish the slight and often reductive atmospheres found throughout. It quickly finds its feet, however, the blank canvas overwritten as buzzing Post-Rock guitar chords and thrumming drones see things come to life, like the first burst of Sun over the horizon, subsequently losing itself in a humming reverie of possibility. It tinkles and thrums and flows effortlessly, emotions blossoming under the brush with playful and reckless abandon. “With A Murmur” invokes a similar build, its reserved beginnings suspended in soft synth drones and anchored by nagging pulses of the damaged guitar as they search for life in its soft minutiae, almost giving up in its halfway lull before surging forth on dense beds of smeared instrumentation, reversed piano tones ringing out from microscopic depths of existence.

That deep minimalism is also present on the jaded wanderings of “Sleeping Pauper”, a piece that would sound very at home on Eilean Records actually, its humble runtime lost in acoustic minimalism and tired, organic spontaneity. A ghostly drone backfield supports the sparse constructions above, the canvas neglected and wanting as a few piano strokes and viola winnows unfold atop it, thin accompaniments whose little energy is attenuated in glitches and melting drone melancholia. It’s a far cry from “Unyielding Rocks” which proceeds it, a dark and forbidding seascape that evokes tortured images of old, spits of land battered by Atlantic storms or dramatic views of sailors navigating reefs in pummeling wind and rain. It’s heavy and dark and cumbersome, the gritty guitar entrenching the miserable brutalism of the scene amongst the sympathetic slow strokes of the piano, fingertips over paint, the moment feeling very real and alive.

It’s all capped by the reserved and impossibly genteel “Eternal Weaver”, 4 minutes of pure bliss and artistic sentiment, its shimmering tones like the dewy refractions of a spider’s web in Spring, this tiny and improbably fragile moment brought to bear through beaming drone sustenance and Steve Roach reminiscent xylophonic tinklings. It transcends painterly and photographic capability and throws us directly into the moment, its tiny tones transporting us effortlessly as though our very feet are tiptoeing around the forest floor for a better look, to find that perfect frame for this classically beautiful sight.

Every moment is pure elegance, every scene so strikingly and effortlessly captured but never straying into corny romantic territory, never feeling overdone. The guitar feels a little nagging at times but it’s often a grounding presence in elsewise deeply aloof textural otherness, a nicely diverting texture that keeps us tethered just enough to remind us that we’re only witnesses to a captive power, its grinding tones the dragnet of reality slowing us just enough to stop us falling completely into imagination. Simply incredible, front and back.