Kalman, Egil: Kingdom of Bells LP

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Mind-bending solo debut of just intoned modular synth and double bass treks from Swedish player Egil Kalman, exploring borderlands between ancient drone, Scandinavian folk and experimental music horizons somewhere between Kali Malone, FUJI||||||||||TA and Keith Fullerton Whitman - a total stunner. Attending to the rare and classic Synthi 100 model coupled with tactile, thrumming low end strings, on ‘Kingdom of Bells’ Kalman continues to steer his practice to a personal truth after a pair of collaborations with Fredrik Rasten and Zoe Efsthathiou, and chops for Alasdair Roberts & Völvur. The 10-part album proceeds into conceptual space that we’d associate with the deep, purposeful tonal explorations of the XKatedral label, or, perhaps more acutely, Naaljos Ljom’s elisions of ancient Indian classical and forgotten Norse folk musick; repurposing the mystic potential of time-honoured tunings in a series of succinct windows to a place out of time. Kalman clearly revels in the space where distinctions of synthetic and acoustic melt into one another, producing tones that become hard to attribute to either source while giving them character thru curdled melodic cadences and curious harmonic juxtapositions that slowly, but surely, lead the head off on unexpected side missions. Opener ‘Cloudless daybreak’ balances a primordial crudeness with timelessly transportive lines of extended melody that diffuse into wondrous shapes across the album, from his descriptions of bats and nocturnal activity on ‘Iannis’ and ‘Yellowhammer’, thru deliciously groggy keen of ‘Lyra’ to pool in viscous subharmonics on ‘Delaware Road’. The last trio of tracks are on an especially heart-stopping tip, bathed in ambient light and a powered-down energy like unexpectedly soothing sleep paralysis that eventually fades to black. An incredible debut, one to swoon for, hard.

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