Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Tupolev - Memories of Björn Bolssen (2008, Valeot)

From Vienna come Tupolev, an interesting quartet with regards to the instrumentation: piano, bass, electronics, cello and drums. The calmness and peaceful atmosphere emanating from Memories of Bjørn Bolssen (released on Valeot) may remind some of Sigur Ros' soothing style. Tupolev create a very relaxing ambience, with some jazzy, rock, electronic and classical tinges occasionally added. The approach and performance is minimalist and leaves room for the listener's interpretation, feelings, and reaction to come into play when absorbing it. 

Despite its apparent abstractness, there's "substance to be digested" here. At times it feels as if improvised (the piano part on "Reaset," for example) though mostly they seem to know very well where they're heading. Though minimalist, there's no lack of warmth here and in the track I mentioned above, "Reaset," there's a cool jazz feel, passionate and tender. The drums played here by David Schweighart are very well done. Such emotions are also created in "Garlic_08" when the violin joins in the bass and electronics playing. The balance of sounds between their acoustic instruments and the electronics works very well and helps define their sound, although I think it should be explored and developed further in a way that will further "clash" or contradict these two elements.

Not only are Tupolev minimalist, but they seem to build tension (when there is some, such as in "Garlic_08") or move forward with the track structure in a slow manner, taking their time. The album is mostly slow, unhurried, and serene. Moreover, there is no peak in the tracks as such, just a slow progression to the next level only to stagnate and fade away. This is a point that Tupolev may want to consider changing; not to morph into a different style, but to better continue the flow of the tracks and progress onwards. A good indication of this can be heard in "Rnd2." Nevertheless, this is no reason to dismiss the music at all; it's well played, beautiful, and heart-warming.
Memories Of Bjørn Bolssen is great when wanting a relaxed and quiet music to listen to. I am sure some will find this boring to tears while others will rejoice over this type of music. That is up to you; if this type of music speaks to you, I recommend having a listen. However, this album is very light, perhaps too much so for some occasions. If you dislike ambient music in all forms and need "action" in your music, stay away. As for me, I will be coming back to Memories Of Bjørn Bolssen as I enjoy the music on here. It's perfect to relax to, for early morning or late night listening.

Listen to the album here

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