18 December 2011

Johannes Heldén – Title Sequence (Ideal, 2010)

Second album for Swedish ambient musician Johannes Helden,  eight years after his first one, 'Sketchbook" on Trente Oiseaux.

Nothing really new under the sun as it resumes and uses many conventions of the style. Luckily, he has got a clear vision of his style of music so it doesn't sound like belonging to the 90's blooming ambient scene but much more like an updated version, with an obvious knowledge of works by Gas or William Basinski.

What really makes the difference is his use of guitar and piano sounds processed and introduced as elements of accentuation.

The best example is the highlight "Vortex Count",  which sounds like Gas but in a more melodic and epic format, with a slow melancholic evolution and the progressive incorporation of processed guitar sounds, a bit like Michael Brooks's infinite guitar, which are adding subtlety and are making the whole composition entrancing. This is the only track with straightforward beats.

The global mood is shady and quiet, gloomy weather of late autumn, clouds crossing the sky in long processions, with temporary sunny spells. It's the sparse use of reverberated piano over the ambient layers and its anticipation on the opening track "Cold Open" which makes the track successful. 

Certain tracks are purely dark and ambient and so are not really interesting : "And they multiply" and "Corporations. Later there is the intense and feverish "Soft News" and the sunny and lightly euphoric "Future light and darkness". The last track, "Tree sequence" is particularly minimal and dark.
Finally, two tracks stand above the rest, "Vortex Count" and "Cold Open" and both connect his ambient atmosphere with clearer, more precise sound you can relate to instruments, guitar or piano, and their precise brings a balance , rays or sun crossing the heavy smog of his ambient layers. Obviously, it's the way to go.


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