Marcus Fjellström: Library Music 1

Swedish composer Marcus Fjellström's latest release Library Music 1 appeals on multiple levels. It's, first of all, surprisingly unlike the work we've heard from him before, namely the Lampse releases Exercises in Estrangement (2005) and Gebrauchmusik (2006) and 2010 Miasmah release Schattenspieler. In keeping with its title, Library Music 1 (composed and recorded between 2007 and 2011) derives inspiration from old music libraries used for television and low-budget movie productions from decades past, plus the early electronic experimental work produced by Raymond Scott and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Packing eighteen pieces into a forty-three-minute running time also means that each piece will be a concise vignette that states its case with admirable dispatch. The stylistically contrasting oddities are mini-soundtracks in search of programs of varying character, whether the genre in question be suspense, mystery, or comedy. The sing-song fifth track is as gleeful as a carnival, while sparkling tones in the ninth dance nimbly, conjuring a fairy-tale wonderland. By contrast, the angst-ridden thirteenth suggests some horrific tragedy has occurred, and the sixteenth evokes the ponderous of a moody courtroom drama. In the sixth, dissonant classical strains shadow piano flourishes, and in the eighth strings convey noir-like foreboding.

Electronics are surely involved in the material's production—phasing effects in track ten, for example, explicitly confirm as much—but more often than not the music sounds acoustic in nature, with piano, strings, and percussion typically at the forefront. Many tracks are coated with static and grime, as if to suggest tapes that've been rescued from dusty basement archives. Descriptive titles are eschewed, with Fjellström presumably deciding that something like “LM-104” and “LM-115” would not only reinforce the library catalogue character of said material but would also encourage listeners to impose interpretations of their own devising. Hints of classical, experimental electronica, lounge jazz, and obscure film music abound within the album's vignettes, making it, in its own mongrel fashion, as accessible and as enjoyable a collection as Fjellström's issued to date. The fact that he's currently scoring David Firth's “Salad Fingers” cartoon thus makes perfect sense, given the concept driving the Library Music 1 release.

June 2011