Eric Malmberg - Den Gåtfulle Människan
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Eric Malmberg
Den Gåtfulle Människan

I'm not sure if it's intentional or simply a sly nod, but the first five seconds of the opening track on Eric Malmberg's new album are very similar to the opening thirty seconds of the mega-song "Fly Like An Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band. Malmberg to date is probably best known as one-half of the duo Sagor & Swing, who released four delightful records before calling the project quits last year. Despite all their albums only consisting of two instruments (Hammond Organ and Percussion), the duo managed to coax a wide variety of sounds and moods out during the course of their four releases, and with Den Gåtfulle Människan, Malmberg shows that he has much more up his sleeve.

Whereas Sagor & Swing albums were only comprised of two albums, this release by Malmberg has simply chosed to strip everything else away except for sounds that can be made by his trusty Hammond. While the constraints may seem somewhat limiting to someone who has never heard work by Malmberg before, those who have heard work by his other group know that the instrument is almost like another appendage to him. Over the course of eight tracks, Malmberg once again creates a whimsical world of sound in which buoyant melodies rule.

As mentioned above, the opening track "Def Högie Medvetamdet" starts out with a rather celestial cascade of tones before multiple layers of warm organ play out over one another while more otherworl dly sounds swirl in and out of the mix. If the opening track takes one floating high above another planet, then the following "Undermedvetundet" is the sound of skimming just above the surface as repeating arpeggios recall a more playful Philip Glass. "Jagef" then follows and drops things down on the surface of said planet as a bossa-nova shuffle grounds things a bit more and even inspires a bit of wiggle.

If the release does have a downside, it's that there isn't a great deal of actual variety in the sounds on the release, but it's such a novel, encompassing world that once you've entered, you'll most likely stick until the end of the journey. Imagine a less-cold sounding Wendy Carlos with the more-playful sense of wonder of early Boards Of Canada and you're getting somewhere close to what Malmberg has done with Den Gåtfulle Människan. If they ever make a movie out of Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens Of Titan and need music to be playing for the denizens of said moon, I think this release would be the perfect fit.

rating: 7.510
Aaron Coleman 2005-05-19 00:00:00