Releases date: 23 May, 2012
On Finn Loxbo’s debut album, the familiar becomes unusual and new. Tapping into a rich seam of folk-inspired music, Lines, Curtainsfinds inspiration in the sounds of acoustic guitars but amalgamates this with strings, ghostly drones and otherworldly sounds to conjure something truly original. Co-produced by Loxbo and Rickard Jäverling (another Kning Disk artist: see KD055 and KD061), this magical release captures a rippling, textured combination of enchanting folk melody and poignant lyricism - delivered in both Swedish and English - which is always distinctly powerful.
Lines, Curtains bewitches from the opening track, ‘Otaliga’, where a rolling drum pattern propels psych-tinged folk-rock with an Eastern bent, in the vein of Voice of the Seven Woods. Finn Loxbo’s playing style is at times reminiscent of VOTSW’s Rick Tomlinson, like on the raga-infused ‘Broken Mirror’, as well as Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance. This intricately picked style can be heard on ‘Harvest’ – a song which proves that there’s also a great musicality to his lyrics, regardless of which language he’s singing them in.
Loxbo’s tender baritone is at the forefront on ‘Vi Kom Från Jorden’, which is based on a poem by Harry Martinson. Here, it’s imagined as a beautiful piano-led waltz, with all the poise and effortless grace of a music box melody, while being underpinned by gentle, sombre strings which contribute to the poignant mood. ‘Black Jewel’ fashions a similar fragility, like something from Nick Drake’s epochal Pink Moon. Barely-there drones and mournful strings brush seductively alongside a sparse guitar melody and Loxbo’s quivering, cracked vocal.
A different beast altogether, the dark, spooky atmosphere of ‘Regnet’ is more akin to creeping post-rock in places – all low notes, malevolent drums and spidery guitar. On songs such as this and ‘December’, there’s an extraordinarily rhythmic feel to Loxbo’s guitar playing, while the latter’s lilting melody worms its way into the listener’s brain with unerring ease.
Similarly, the album’s centre-piece ‘Storm of the Eye’ combines sinewy guitar with insistent, almost Tom Waits-like junkyard percussion, pounding out battered rhythms while strings stir, soar, ebb and flow. A keening, double-tracked vocal coda circles and repeats, before folding back on itself; at once elegant and vulnerable. Meanwhile, layers of sound sweep underneath as part of a smothering cacophony of rustic noise.
The album closes with two delicate and heart-warming songs. Firstly, ‘Under Your Feathers’ is uplifting yet laced with melancholy, reminiscent of compatriot Jose Gonzalez. It’s followed by ‘Epilogen’, a carefully plucked guitar melody allied with understated keys, subtle harmonica and the kind of toe-tapping rhythm which marks it as a wistful, jauntier cousin of the Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’.
Concocting a dense, full-bodied sound from such a limited number of instruments is a rare accomplishment indeed, and this first full-length outing from Finn Loxbo hints at even greater things to come. But this is a fantastic place to start.