Album released 17th October 2011 on Something In Construction
“I have found the perfect position just in between joy and darkness,” Emil Svanängen, aka Loney Dear.
After touring the United States in support of 2009’s Dear John, Emil Svanängen returned home to Sweden to play shows with chamber orchestras throughout the country. To do so, he was forced to revisit his earlier material, re-writing and re-arranging these older songs for performance on a grander scale.
The experience had an indelible influence on the writing and recording of the appropriately titled Hall Music, an expansive record that finds Svanängen closer to creating the type of orchestral music he has always sought to bring to life on stage. While some songs were conceived over the past year, others have been gestating for much longer, eventually coming to fruition as the result of rediscovered lyrics and new musical perspectives.
Svanängen played nearly everything on the album himself – including zithers, church bells and home-made instruments. He produced, re-produced, mixed and mastered the album many times over until he was satisfied with the finished product. “It’s fair to say that it has been a bit Brian Wilson at times,” says a spokesperson for Svanängen’s label.
Svanängen’s sixth full-length since debuting the Loney Dear moniker with 2003’s The Year of River Fontana, Hall Music is a study in merging contrasts. The pacing is simultaneously fast and slow, with gently weaving harmonic structures propelled forward by quickly moving notes. On My Heart, the frenetic overtones belie the relaxed, scuzzy bass vibrating underneath, while Largo matches the musical definition of its name more in its unhurried aura than its actual BPM. The instrumentation is orchestral and synthesized, organic and invented. A church bell paired effortlessly with horns and an analogue keyboard. Apocalyptically pulsing bass (Durmoll) and an angelic vibraphone solo (Calm Down).
At first listen it occupies your ears for just over a half-hour, an all-consuming sonic affair. It is intimate music that effortlessly fills vast, empty spaces – in your head, in your room, in your life – with a grip so delicate yet unyielding that you can’t (and don’t want to) escape it. These are big, varied sounds combined with grace and intimacy, bringing to mind Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs, Grandaddy’s Sophomore Slump and the best of Scott Walker.
The compositions on Hall Music transcend any connection to specific times and places, instead seeking that space “in between joy and darkness”. In doing so, Hall Music creates its own unique expanse – one you’ll surely want to re-visit again and again.