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Jürjendal, Robert: Simple Past

With his previous two solo albums Robert Jürjendal utilised a looped based approach to bring his visions into life, however on his third, Simple Past, the composer and musician has moved his focus to a more organic base. Formed round his touch guitar work and the drumming skills of Andrus Lillepea, the sounds across this smooth, beguiling album are atmospheric and almost visual in style. The inspiration behind the collection is to examine the brevity and fragility of human life and the desire, and in many ways futility, of the human species to strive and achieve. After all, the only certainty is our own end. If that sounds melancholy, then it illustrates perfectly how Simple Past sounds.

That description may not suggest an album that generates warmth and the ability to pull you into its ethos and yet that's exactly what happens. Jürjendal's touch guitar work is exemplary and when combined with his keyboard washes and the superb 'kit display' from Lillepea, it lays out a heady mix of atmospheres that convey the album's intentions in a clear and yet complex manner. With the instrumentation involved, it should be no surprise that later King Crimson draws comparisons, although with a smoother, floatier side "No Or Yes" and "Brothers" begin the journey in a much more organic and soothing setting. It's a theme throughout and one which could have, in the wrong hands, resulted in an uneventful experience. However, with the threatening snare pounds and wavering slides of guitar in "Kettle", the mood is never allowed to settle too deeply into one singular mindset.

Turn the album up loud and Jürjendal's sympathetic but bold production brings you right into the centre of events and through headphones it's possible to become gloriously disorientated as everything plays out around you. It's immersive stuff and an album that really demands you stop what you're doing and simply concentrate on what's appearing before you. Something borne out especially on the closing pair of "More" and "Simple Past" where Jürjendal goes completely solo and even considering how vital Lillepea's contributions are elsewhere, comes through in quite magnificent style.

Enigmatic and yet somehow inviting, Simple Past takes the most intricate structures and displays them in a manner that's both easy to digest and involved enough to lose yourself in. It may shine a light on just how short life can be but it also convinces you that there has to be time to simply sit down with as few distractions as possible and take in this excellent release.

Track Listing
1. No Or Yes
2. Brothers
3. Kettle
4. Melting Memories
5. Up Up
6. Old Stories
7. Substance
8. Above
9. More
10, Simple Past

Added: March 31st 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Robert Jürjendal online
Hits: 1696
Language: english

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