Mikael Lind – Strings and Clusters (Polar Seas, 2018)

We are, each of us, a walking bag of emotions and thoughts at any given moment. These swirl and gestate in complex patterns, some of them expressed, some suppressed, others we aren’t even aware of. It is not simple to put these things across, and never possible to convey the full breadth of one’s myriad feeling.

Strings and Clusters is, in a way, an effort to collect and crystallise expression, to turn random strands of thought into cohesive threads. Constructed by building the pieces from individual phrases of recorded cello, violin and viola, this is a record that evokes complex truths from simple and unaligned beginnings.

Mostly this manifests as smokey and dark fabrications, a pressure head of melancholy and disaffection rising unbidden once loosed. The only exception to this is the floaty and radiant opener “Shapeshifting Clouds”, whose glowing drones fuzz and fray as light bends around the blossoming edges of cloud scuds. It does not know yet the source of these condensing developments, too late to stop the evaporative tide of thought now rising.

The rest are explorations in generative sadness, although never straying too far down the path, more of an acknowledgement of feeling. “Aural Disintegration” grazes the sentiment of melancholia in its unsettled densities, stringed drones lapping over one another and oozing from a common wound. It keeps together better than its namesake, perhaps betraying some sense of facade, of a crumbling within hidden behind strings that only touch the surface.

“How Things Disperse and Combine” has a similarly molten and fluid approach in its tired strings. Clusters of texture here are doused in sombre hues, a sense of nostalgia hinted at in its progressive motions, too little time to take stock in the face of change forcing reflection to be buried instead of faced. This very much comes to a head in following “Disordered Mechanisms”, grinding and shimmying along in noisy aggressions that look to plough ahead forcefully, moving past the uncertain and hesitant initiations and expunging the accumulated negative energies lurking beneath the surface.

This is a record that is elegant in its simplicity, careful and controlled in its structure, and honest with the emulsification of emotion that is allowed to be exposed. Better out than in, as they say.