Tvarvagen play richly detailed chamber works in that heavily melancholy neo-classical style rather favoured these last few years. This river so red is in fact especially melancholy, as it takes as a theme the general sense of a post-apocalypse world and wistful / desperate recollections of before. On Hare Tracks / Feeder Recordings.
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A new neo-classical record of chamber pieces, y’all. I imagine neo-classical chambers are pretty impractical as living spaces; they must be flooded with tears, and unlike most chambers, they’re probably really difficult to retire to. But they also probably make good swimming pools. Anyway, diluting the chambers with chlorine this week are Tvarvagen, who provides nine startling threnodies meant to lament events after their happening. “After” is apparently the theme of the record, though the event varies between seemingly huge humanitarian occurrences and personal turmoil.
While these pieces detail their fair share of overwrought heartbreak, they also have strands of baroque pop flowing through them: “Running Out of Time” seems to loop organically, the arrangements akin to the circularity of Colleen’s new record, while the plucked violins recall Andrew Bird trying to shake up classical instrumentation, or Nigel Kennedy trying to give stoical classicism a jazzier aesthetic. Of course, there’s plenty of wallowing to offset the almost playful style Tvarvagen sometimes chances on: the tender piano and string arrangements on “Daybreak” sound like a more lullabying Olafur Arnalds, while the record’s title track brews up a sorrowful on cello.
It’s when urgency arrives in Tvarvagen’s music that it becomes most compelling, with the quilted sounds of “Daybreak” eventually sharpened by staccato strings and a repeating, sirened piano motif. The brevity of these moments makes them all the more precious, as Trarvagen usually comes from a place of absolute melancholy, where the music is gorgeous but the stakes are low. Still, it’s hard not to fall for a musician who can throw off a twinkling piano piece like “Flickering Lights”, a track which lives up to its title: the chords sound like a lightbulb struggling to stay on, while the twinkled notes conjure raindrops. Allow me to inaccurately praise this one for its impressionism.
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