Tor Lundvall: Empty City
Strange Fortune

Rare for an electronic album, New York-based musician Tor Lundvall's Empty City is strongly programmatic, though that shouldn't surprise too much given Lundvall's other vocation as a painter (the album's landscape images were created by him); song titles alone tell an evocative story of metropolitan desolation that's consistent with the album title. Lundvall's music has been called ‘ghost ambient' and the description isn't inaccurate. He transcribes the lonely, pre-dawn grey of a city's industrial outskirts into slow-moving pulsations where muffled Rhodes melodies and subtly woven vocal emissions are smothered in atmospheric gloom; silences are interrupted by piercing bell tones and soft whistles while phantom-like voices creep along the music's edges, thereby humanizing it by adding a wispy subliminal presence to the muted, almost drowsy, material. “Buildings and Rain” drenches the percussive pitter-patter of rainfall in billowing clouds of reverb, “Night Work” echoes with a distant steelyard's clanging and machine hum, and the soot-covered “Scrap Yard” and “Wires,” with its bleeding neon and guttural tones, ooze industrial grime. If ever a music invited the appellation ‘somnambulant,' it's Lundvall's.

January 2007