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  • David Bentley

Lehnberg – ‘No Bag’ (single)

A few weeks ago we featured Sweden’s The Deer Tracks in a ‘Down Memory Lane’ article. One half of the writing duo of that band, David Lehnberg, has followed several different paths since the last output from them (2016), including teaching, setting up a record label, writing and performing in two other bands (Leiah and d’Árc,), running a community project and even a martial arts Fight Club.

A busy guy, but he’s also finding the time to churn out his own style of music, which is increasingly ambient electronica, in common with several others in his town, which has become something of a centre for this sort of music in Sweden. This is his latest piece, released on 3rd December.

I don’t listen to enough of this type of music; my last real exposure to it was a four hour session involving four of the leading exponents globally (including one from Sweden) at the Manchester International Festival in 2019. I hope they will repeat it next year. But what I have learned is that one of the most respected albums in this genre is Brian Eno’s 1978 ‘Music for Airports’, described by Pitchfork as the best ambient album of all time.

I got the fanciful idea in my head that ‘No Bag’ might be airport related too, like waiting by the side of an empty carousel foolishly hoping that yours might miraculously appear. We’ve all been there. When I listened to it, it was more a case of music for airports ‘airside’ rather than ‘landside’ as it was in Eno’s case.

There are strong hints of the machinery that is in place once you’ve fought your way through the shops, bars and duty free outlets to the gate – the rising engine noise as they are started up, the taxi-ing to the runway then the exhilaration of take-off itself, the sudden thrust of the engines and the associated banging and clattering. Then that comparative silence as the engines are throttled back so the people under the flight path don’t complain about the noise. It’s all there.

But my imagination was running riot and I was taxi-ing up the wrong runway myself. It turns out to be about…well I’ll just copy Lehnberg’s own explanation:

“Whatever you catch or capture during your stay here on earth should be placed in the heart, not in a bag. If you can fit it in a bag, you’ll be better off throwing it away sooner than later in order to not let all those heavy bags weigh you down. You should be gravitating towards pure happiness, love and devotion of that very source and not become a collector of illusionary things.”

Whatever your thoughts on ambient music I suggest you give this a listen. It is only seven minutes long, which is short for this genre, and what it is very good at is ‘painting with sound’.

And yes, David, I hope you’ll have the opportunity to play this at the MIF next year.

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