Library Tapes is the primary musical outlet for Sweden’s ambient/modern classical composer David Wenngren. Whilst much of his early material has focused around piano, field recordings and static, most recently he has clocked up an appearance on the 1960’s-themed BBC show Inspector George Gently. Perhaps what is most surprising now is that Wenngren is showcasing an optimistic side to his performances, aided by a trio of string players on ‘Sun Peeking Through’.
Thirty minutes of music are bookended by ‘Variation I’ and ‘II’, which are unusually busy with static, the sound of machine noise swelling and subsiding, with the one constant being the tinkle of piano. What occurs in between, however, is in closer touch with human emotions. As if to satisfy classical fans, ‘Parlour – Variation I’ is nothing but piano and strings. So far so pleasant but on the third track, the towering ‘Found’, the album moves from the pretty to melancholic and grand. As a perfect example of how the pieces develop, by the time of ‘Parlour – Variation II’ and ‘III’, Wenngren has moved from the comparatively tentative steps of part ‘I’ to strident, colourful melody. Then most impressive of all is the beautifully sad ‘Lost’, which possesses a cinematic sweep fit to score a multitude of romantic/tragic epics.
The only mark in the debit column is that many of these compositions are so short, that what emerges is an album’s worth of elegant but wonderfully-formed fragments. Expect the soundtrack offers to keep on coming but more importantly, there’s a fine album here which is as moving and stirring as modern classical music can be.
Erik Satie, Woodchucker