Kristofer Axén - 'The Creek and the Carving
Whilst there is no doubt that many music websites / blogs will be wary of touching anything that claims to be influenced by 'progressive' styles of music, for us at Nordic Music Review its pretty much a guarantee that a music submission gets to the top of our listening queue. So we were delighted to be sent a copy of 'Kristofer Axén's new release 'The Creek and the Carving. I've always found huge depth in songwriting which has progressive influences, and it does undoubtedly also give me an excuse to mention the words 'Major' and 'Parkinson' in some context or other during this review.
So Kristofer Axén is clearly proud of his progressive roots, and his latest album 'The Creek and the Carving' is an interesting, thoughtful and well written album which has a lovely attention to detail, and continues to grow on me the more I give it chance. It is the Swedish songwriters 2nd album, following the 8 track 'Strange Light Music' in 2014, and 'The Creek and the Carving' is clearly the more complete and easier to listen to release. The set up of the band appears deliberately straightforward - mainly acoustic guitar, bass, drums and piano, but the songwriting style takes the songs in directions you won't quite expect - and I guess that's where the appeal is to me. I also proves that you can be original sounding using a fairly conventional set up of instruments.
As normal I'll highlight some of my favourite stand out tracks. The album opens with a lovely track, 'Marked On a Brick', with a simply gorgeous tune, sensitively used violin and an emphasis on less instrumentation rather than more. 'Peculiar Logics' is even more reliant on the vocal melody, and the style reminds me of the excellent UK band Arch Garrison. 'New John Forming' took slightly longer to appeal to me, but I love the delicately constructed sound (strains of North Sea Radio Orchestra and maybe even the Miserable Rich) and again it just has this lovely melody. And whilst, as regular readers know, I hate using comparisons with other bands, I do so here simply because I have so much respect for the sophisticated songwriting of the bands referenced, and they all have progressive influences too. In the midst of the album I love the mainly instrumental 'I'm Certain (intermission)' and it is possibly needed given the album is a weighty 13 tracks long. 'Facesaver' is well written lyrically, whilst there is nowhere to hide in the concluding and stripped back 'B F Company', which is so beautifully written and arranged.
OK so it is true that 'The Creek and the Carving' has not been universally acclaimed by all those associated with Nordic Music Review, as whilst no-one had a bad word to say about it, not everyone was sure how much they'd listen to such a soft intricate release. And it is true that this is not a 'hard hitting' album, maybe it does lack some 'bite'. But actually it is that soft intricate charm that has really attracted to me to it, the tracks feel individually woven and hand crafted with each note and chord sequence so carefully positioned and thought through - the type of precision similar to building a replica of the Eiffel Tower out of matchsticks. And whilst the progressive influences have not resulted in some ludicrously wild output similar to something Major Parkinson (there you go...) or Cardiacs, this is cleverly written and interesting music, and so different to many of the predictable indie and Electro Pop releases out there. Kristofer Axén's 'The Creek and the Carving' is simply a really likeable album, and I hope you'll all give it a chance.
Nordic Music Review 8/10
More information on Kristofer Axén at https://strangelightmusic.com/