Album release: 'Ashes' by Albert af Ekenstam
Release date: 14 October 2016
Label: Kning Disk
More info: Artist website
Nine months have passed – have fallen like red autumn leaves to the ground –since I first heard Albert af Ekenstam’s melancholic solo material.
During this time Albert has, amongst other things, released two singles on Kning Disk ('Walking' and 'Angel Liz'), acted as a warm up act for The Posies and Bear’s Den, moved from Gothenburg to Stockholm and appeared in prestigious Swedish music magazines such as Sonic and HYMN. Naming his influences as Explosions in the Sky, Bon Iver and Mogwai, it is more than easy to lose yourself over and over in his mournful guitars, grandiose arrangements, heartfelt voice and poignant lyricism.
What days and nights! On the 14th of October Albert of Ekenstam’s debut album ‘Ashes’ will meet its expectant audience. Singer/guitarist Sumie Nagano (whose self-titled album on Bella Union is a must for all who love unique voices), drummer/ keyboardist/producer Filip Leyman (who, together with Albert, make up the post-rock constellation Tempel) and trumpeter Max Lindahl (known from a number of jazz bands) have all helped Albert bring it to fruition.
What a record it is! Like Elliot Smith (rest in peace) and Damien Jurado before him, Albert is a brave and straightforward singer-songwriter. His melodies and lyrics are like uncensored and infinitely beautiful letters – without euphemisms and false chords they let you know what’s on his mind. At the same time, they’re universal – if you’ve loved and lost you can relate to them completely.
And yet it is full of hope! Albert’s mother died when he was 12 years old and him and his sister had to bring themselves up alone for the most part. Much of the album touches on loneliness and how he had to take responsibility early in his life in order to manage his own future –including his relationships and how he learnt to build a ‘safe point’ from within before relying on others. Songs like ‘The Devil Bird’ tell the tale of fighting to choose the right way you want to live and not living to the standards built up by outsiders.
They also stir the internal movie projector. With “Ashes” on the stereo and eyes closed, memory fragments, glowing emotions and pure dreams fly and stir through your soul. Filip’s production (which you’ve heard on Anna von Hausswolff’s two latest albums) is both intimate and grand at the same time, making this personal cinematic experience even more sensational.
What more can you ask for?