Music Reviews

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Artist: Tobias Hellqvist
Title: Kaskelot: Reissue + Remixes
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
It's not that difficult to understand why Tobias Hellkvist has been regarded as "one of Sweden’s best-kept secrets" just after the release of his debut album "Evolutions" in 2010, due to the elegant way by which he intertwined heavily processed drones, acoustic instruments and field recordings, but the release I'm going to introduce - reissued in the beginning of the current year by Home Normal - was even less known by European and American listeners than it was his widespread debut: firstly produced by Home Normal sub-label Tokyo Droning in 2011, "Kaskelot" was a four-track EP, that became considerably popular in Japan, due to its daydreaming and gently melodic sound, close to the aesthetics of many skilled producers that blossomed over years in that fascinating country. Years after its release, Tobias and Ian Hawgood talked about it during a discussion they had in London after a gig by Tobias at The Vortex in March 2013 and after a series of emails, Ian decided to reissue an extended version of it by involving a number of remixers to revamp the original tracks, which got also remastered for the occasion. The four lulling and slightly entrancing sonic sweetener that Tobias improvised and recorded in just one night at Sunlaugin in Reykjavik (Iceland) between 24th March and 4th April 2011 by a one-take recording of a piano, a vibraphone, a pump organ, a guitar, a pedal steel, some simple loops and some likewise neat percussions, got squeezed and restyled by a set of well-known artists of the ambient and electronic folk circle, who sometimes enhanced some of its properties: the most elongated dilutions are the one by Steve Pacheco, who extended Kaskelot sounds over a sweet thin melodic softener lasting 12 minutes and 12 seconds where piano reappears as a tide of the stretched melodies, and the remix by Chihei Hatakeyama, who used the piano-driven melody as a sparkle to vaporise the original input before arousing its electricity like the rain-smelling air before a summer thunderstorm. Likewise elongated, the remix by Chris Herbert sounds like the rendering of salutary geyser where you could imagine he dissolved different sets of unknown shining minerals. Hibernate artist Simon Bainton is the one who maybe kept more elements of the original version of 'Kaskelot' in the first part of his short remix before dissolving them into a blessing void, while Iranian sound artist Porya Hatami made a magnificent version by combining a certain "rusticity" of the input and a lukewarm epic wrapping by inserting a nylon-bass sound and a lovely synthetic string. The quirky computational sequence by offthesky and the radiant set by Canadian producer Jordan Sauer aka Segue are the cherries on top of this delightful release.



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