Lars Myrvoll: The Island
Safe As Milk

Sounding like it was recorded in some remote Scandinavian cabin using the lowest-tech gear possible, Lars Myrvoll's The Island nonetheless seduces with its mystical charm and pretty folk waltzes (in fact, all of the material was recorded in his bedroom between 2002 and 2008). His classical and steel stringed guitars are the natural focal point but guests flesh out the pieces with flute, tuba, classical guitar, violin, and viola too. The Norway-based musician comfortably adapts his style to the concept album's many moods, with some tracks mere interludes and others substantially arranged settings. Though track titles such as “Rain” and “The Silence” strongly telegraph their associative moods, and rapid strums certainly do suggest a torrential downfall in “More Rain,” other pieces move in surprising directions. “The Storm,” for example, is anything but the raging cacophony one might expect but rather an episodic setting for strings and guitars that finds the ship navigating through both tranquil and threatening waters. Likewise, one wouldn't necessarily expect “Heartbeats (The Wait)” to be the atmospheric, gloomy dirge that it is. Hypnotic flute arpeggios strengthen the already-dream-like feel of “The Picture” while a sinuous violin solo spotlight by Ole Henrik Moe Jr. significantly raises the temperature level during “The Gleaming Water (Monaco).” Also memorable are the transporting “Departure,” which wends a path from a slightly bluesy main theme to a startling descending figure, and “The Dream,” which brings the thirty-seven-minute album to a lilting close. Much of the material sounds like timeless whispers emanating from the deep recesses of the ancient forest. Tailor-made for lovers of Björn Olsson, Bo Hanson, and Popol Vuh, Myrvoll's music is just as “out-of-time”—in other words, always “in time” and never “out-of-date.”

March 2009