Elias Krantz - Lifelines

by Justin Pearson Rating:7 Release Date:2016-08-12

Swedish multi-instrumentalist Elias Krantz exists in a separate realm outside of the current instrumental/electronic atmosphere that only a few musicians seem able to navigate with a commanding sense of space, if they even make it there in the first place. His latest album Lifelines is a testament to this. Although brief at only thirty-eight minutes, it packs enough material into its two songs that play out like suites, giving the album a proper, sectional feel appropriate for keeping the sonic ideas far apart enough so as to not influence each other too much. Its impact lies primarily in its drifting quality. It doesn't really adhere to any conventional rules of song composition, nor does it feel entirely experimental, but rather rests somewhere between the two, confident enough in its unmooring from either side to be pleasantly out of reach yet close enough to warrant an admiring attention.

Rising and falling between quiet ambience and stylistic swells, the album is more notable due to the latter. There's a delicate patience that hangs in the background and the music feels like it's self-aware, alive, prescient even - almost as if it's asking you to wait for the resultant reward. The sounscape shifts in unexpected ways with all the logic of a force driven by randomness, but that's far from a criticism. Instead this points to Krantz' execution via intuition, one that's smart enough to realize a destination is only as good as the means to travel there with the journey being the focal point of the experience.

The first "movement" of 'Patchwork' reflects its namesake. It begins as an inspired sounding jam session of disparate sounds sewn together to create a high-waving flag of horns, drums, saxophone, and synthesizer. This cacophony gets smoothed over by the tinkering patter of playful percussion. Midway through, there's melancholy in the downturn the melody takes, but it then becomes propelled by a hopeful anthemic electric guitar line in the last part that sounds like it could have been lifted from the 2012 Baroness album Yellow & Green in its wishful, more lighter moments.

'On Time' opens with what could be the theme of some lost TV show or late night movie. Krantz seems to tap into past sounds with a present knowledge of how they might affect us in a modern context. It's something akin to nostalgia, but not quite as specific as that, this idea tying into the floating essence of the album's malleable, molecular structure. The song closes with a sense of wildness - not tamed, but not biting hard enough to draw blood. It ends up leaving you with a sense of imbalance, but somewhere in the melody's meanderings is a path you want to follow.

Although this is technically Krantz' third effort, it feels like a beginning of sorts or a new incarnation of the bulk of his past work. It doesn't really sound like anything out there right now, and he keeps it from becoming a total mess by employing a sense of succinctness, albeit one that's stretched and drawn out, the bits and chunks placed strategically Here! and There!, as if they're micro destinations you eagerly point at passing by in the wandering capsule surrounding you during the aural trip. Lifelines is short, but there's certainly enough substance to chew on. It isn't necessary for sustaining your existence, but it feels vital, quenching just enough to get you through a musical dry spell brought on by the lack of originality that ocassionally rears its ugly, unwanted head in the form of less apt artists.

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