Jasper TX: Singing Stones
Fang Bomb

Singing Stones finds Dag Rosenqvist (aka Jasper TX ) not so much radically advancing his style as refining it to a seeming state of perfection. Characteristic of his Jasper TX output, the hour-long collection—his fifth full-length, following upon previous outings on Miasmah, Kning Disk, and Lampse—features guitar-oriented set-pieces that include both naturalistic sounds, processing treatments, and field recordings. There's some suggestion that the album's content should be read programmatically, specifically as a story about windswept islands and a small community surrounded by the dark sea (song titles such as “This Barren Land” and “Last Boat In” plus the repeated inclusion of water sounds certainly hint that it should). If it is, in fact, “a story of sadness, of being left behind, a story shrouded in darkness and death,” Rosenqvist's music inarguably succeeds in conveying wistful and somber moods. Eschewing aggressive intensity almost entirely (the slow-burning, rippling guitar drone “A Box of Wood in the Storm” one exception), he opts throughout for peaceful, sparsely-arranged settings that couple guitar drones with bell tinkles and other subtle shadings. Rosenqvist patiently builds the stirring opener “Stillness” layer by layer into a melancholy mass of slowly descending melodies and distant church bells, with the painterly musical material augmented by outdoor sounds of rustles, warbling wind, and the crunch of footsteps. The eight pieces that follow maintain a similarly bucolic character, with the slow waltz “Not Leaving, Not Really” and its sweetly singing melodica a particularly lovely exemplar of the album's style. From its beautiful cover photograph of verdant greenery and rolling countryside to its exquisitely shaped musical content, Singing Stones impresses as an immensely satisfying encapsulation of Rosenqvist's Jasper TX artistry.

April 2009