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Gildenlow, Kristoffer: Rust

Kristoffer Gildenlow's first solo offering is vastly different from anything else he's done, be it with his former band Pain of Salvation, the more alternative Dial project with his wife, or the more progressive metal-influenced The Shadow Theory. Rust is a much more personal statement: besides writing all songs, Gildenlow has also recorded, mixed, and produced the album. Along with a wide array of guests contributing to the songs, he sings, plays bass, electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards, and even the cello. Mind you, the music presented here does not allow any specific instrument to stand out and steal the show; everything is carefully arranged and produced, and each instrument is in the service of the songs rather than displaying technicality.

Every song develops and unfolds slowly; subdued acoustic guitars are lifted by eerie yet organic-sounding keyboard effects before blues-tinged guitar sounds envelop the compositions, rising and falling much like David Gilmour's solo material (think On an Island). Largely devoid of solos, the only exception seems to be made for the beautifully arranged title track, somewhat reminiscent of the spoken passages on the "God's answering machine" song on Pain of Salvation's Be. The track is littered with spoken vocals lamenting about their regrets, and when the bluesy, super-charged guitar solo kicks in, it makes me shiver, stare blankly, and contemplate my life. Besides the tone selection, it's Kristoffer Gildenlow's sense of space between the notes that defines the song, and the placement of the solo within that context is testimony to his grasp of song arrangement. That said, the album is also stunning for Gildenlow's vocal performance. He emotes with such intensity that you just have to stop whatever it is you're doing and get lost in the song. The part where Gildenlow sings "It really doesn't matter if you know my name at all," you feel the world is closing in on you; the addition of piano, subtly textured ambient noises, and the glassy, transparent string arrangement make it possibly the album's finest moment. This is closely followed by "Save My Soul," where former Pain of Salvation keyboardist Fredrik Hermansson plays a simple yet utterly engaging piano theme to underscore the multi-tracked, endlessly layered, desperate vocalizations. All through the song, distant sonic murmurs lurk around the edges, with hypnotic background vocals, and a main vocal part which strangely frustrates me: I can't help but think if recent Pain of Salvation material would still be so underwhelming if Kristoffer Gildenlow was still in the band.

There are several female vocalists on the album, but they're used for added colour. The only song where they are centrally utilized (only for a brief moment) is on "Follow Me Down," a song which seamlessly blends folk-laden themes, powerful background harmonies, soaring wordless vocal melodies, and protean cello motif. Even then, female vocals are harmonized with Gildenlow's singing: on the acoustic-based "Heroes," I'm reminded of Steven Wilson's songs on Cover Version without the female backing harmony, of course.

While myriad instruments and musicians have successfully been assembled to put together this disc, I feel the drum tone keeps them from reaching their full potential at times. Not every song higlights the drumming, but on the ones where the drums are more pronounced the beats sound too harsh and jagged. I really like the playing, though; my issue is strictly with the tone they went for.

Other than this minor complaint, Rust is a terrific album and in many ways surpasses most other solo albums released by his peers. I really hope he continues to put out more albums.

Tracklisting

  1. Callout
  2. Believe
  3. Desire
  4. Follow Me Down
  5. OverWinter
  6. Langtan
  7. Heroes
  8. Save My Soul
  9. Rust
  10. Story Ends
  11. Living Soul

Added: July 8th 2014
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Kristoffer Gildenlow website
Hits: 2712
Language: english

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