• David Bentley

Carl Liungman – Born (single from album of same title)


Now here is something completely different. May 22nd saw the release of the solo piano debut album ‘Born’ by the Swedish pianist and composer Carl Liungman. The album was recorded on the grand piano in the ABBA member Benny Andersson’s studio Riksmixningsverket in Stockholm. Perhaps it should have been called Bjorn. Only joking, Carl.


The title track, here, the album’s opener, had been released as a single in April. The album is purposefully minimal, and with neither major nor minor chords dominating. It depicts a life journey, says Carl Liungman.


Liungman recorded the album on the Italian Fazioli grand piano in Andersson’s studio. He had long been looking for a grand piano with the right balance between distinctive yet soft treble and a powerful bass register


He is influenced by neoromanticism, neoclassicism and modern minimalism, and is particularly fond of displaying the contrasts of the light, harmonic structures of the 18th and 19th centuries together with jazz, pop and complex contemporary music structures. Influences are, among others: Keith Jarrett, Björk, Nils Frahm, Erik Satie, Stravinskij, The Beatles, Chopin, Satie, Herbie Hancock, Esbjörn Svensson, Arvo Pärt, Monk, Charlie Parker, Glenn Gould, Jean-Michel Jarre, Skrjabin, Busoni, Jan Johansson, and Coldplay. I think you could say he is widely influenced.


I’m not particularly erudite where piano music is concerned. I guess this piece verges on a toccata as there is some fairly nimble, quick playing. For me, the main moment is at 1:52 when it suddenly comes alive as if it had been held back on a leash.

I took a listen to the other tracks, there are 10 in all. Most of them are in a similar vein but equally with something unique about them. The quietest track is ‘Hunter’ which for one wild moment I thought might be a re-imagining of Anna Calvi’s super erotic title track to her 2018 album, and the loudest is ‘Rain’ in which it pours. As the man says, a life journey. One of Carl’s peers, the Canadian pianist Milana Zilnik, commented, “It’s as though the piano has emotions.” It’s evident he isn’t getting the best out of a stand-up he bought for a tenner at Cash Converters and he equally knows how to extract the best from the best.


There are horses for courses in music as with everything else and for me this album would be ideal background music to your first dinner date with that lady who is above your station. Afterwards she might not be.


The album is out now on Comedia.


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