"Vänern" by Lemon BoyReview
For his first release since September's "Never Gone", Lemon Boy has today unveiled "Vänern" for our pleasure.
In some ways it is quite different to his previous work, yet on due reflection, it makes a lot of sense as a development of his craft.
As you'll have seen from earlier reviews, oriental themes and motifs often enhance his minimalist folk structures: reflecting his own younger experiences. These have been used to excellent effect & to some extent I think have represented a sort of trademark sound to date. However it is important for all of us, me especially perhaps, not to get drawn into crossing over from viewing this characteristic to reducing our expectations of him to this particular approach: too much of that and he'd become a one trick pony in our minds if not his own. Thus, with the new tune, he still delves back into his own personal history, only this time further back, to even earlier days in Sweden. In fact the really interesting thing here is that he is actually travelling further back than his conscious memories allow him, to winter walks (accompanied we assume) round the Vänern lake.
If the well of memory is a powerful source of inspiration for artists, then that of the subconscious one offers intriguing variations: much more fragmented and impressionistic in nature and wreathed in mists of varying degrees of precise reliability on details.
This lends itself perfectly to the task of creating what is in effect a sound picture rather than a song as such (the track is an instrumental) and Luke leaves us to construct our own pictures from the shards of sound he provides us with. Normally I find reviewing instrumentals a bit more challenging than with songs with lyrics: the latter of course don't half provide useful signposts to any intentions of the writer. It's really mainly John Connearn who sets me such challenges regularly from the local scene, but it's good from time to time to put my mind to making sense of pure music alone. I also don't often get to review tracks which use diacritical marks…
The track is quite a jagged one, especially compared with his contemplative previous ones: we can hear the sounds of walking through ice & cracking it, the shifts and collisions of sheet ice on the lake itself, evoked by a gently stabbing and metallic guitar tone, yet this in turn sits on top of a slightly elusive set of mutating melodic parts which twist and turn in the wind and in their way indicate a very tranquil scene: no-one else seems to be on the walk with us and we are passing through a snow white yet desolate landscape where our own footsteps alone contend with what nature would be still singing whether we are there to witness it or not. The crispness of the sound (courtesy of Philip Marsden) serves the track really well too.
I'm pleased Luke has developed his direction to encompass this other form of beauty. It's something he's already proved he does extremely well, yet with "Vänern" he now reminds us how many different beauties there are in our world.