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Dahl, Erik: Music For Small Rooms

Erik Dahl is a classically trained pianist and composer based out of Gothenburg, Sweden. He leads his own jazz/chamber trio, The Erik Dahl Ensemble but on his 2022 release titled Music For Small Rooms, he has just a few musicians lending a hand albeit three of those are members of his ensemble. For this album Dahl decided to focus on his piano, consequently the music is quite spacious, sometimes ambient, and very subtle.

The first track “Postpop” is probably the catchiest tune led by Dahl’s melodious humming and gorgeous piano threading through the subtle soundscape with the utmost of care and thoughtfulness. It really sets in the hook for the rest of the album. “Natural Home” combines another pretty piano melody with intense orchestral riffs, making this one more progressive in nature. Neo-classical piano and a sparse arrangement give the serene “Tuva” a delicate touch while “Gnista” is a mellow slice of ambient jazz. “The Leopard” dials in a darker sound, the backing synths and harmonium played with the slightest of hands. The darker mood continues with “Sparv” before the gentle lullaby “Børnevise fra Skibby” takes the album home with a soothing touch of class.

Music For Small Rooms is both relaxing and edgy, its depth not revealed easily, this is best served with a glass of wine and a dark room, and oh yeah, headphones are mandatory.

Track Listing:
1. Postpop (4:16)
2. Natural Home (5:23)
3. Tuva (4:11)
4. Gnista (5:08)
5. The Leopard (4:45)
6. Sparv (5:33)
7. Mannen med bollen (3:31)
8. Night Sky (2:09)
9. Between Heartbeats (4:33)
10. Børnevise fra Skibby (4:28)

Added: April 28th 2023
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist @ Bandcamp
Hits: 402
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Dahl, Erik: Music For Small Rooms
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2023-04-28 13:31:54
My Score:

The title of Music For Small Rooms may allude that composer and musician Erik Dahl is more used to operating in larger situations than the stripped back outlook presented here. At times on this moody and introspective collection he sits alone but across six of the album’s ten movements a few guests also appear to help shape the mood. Contained and pensive, most of what is gathered together relies on Dahl’s piano to forge a steady but melodious path, his innate musicality adding more accessibility than you might at first presume.

However, for me, the title also comes with a double meaning, the music conjured in the dark and gently crashing “Natural Home” thriving through a claustrophobic approach that keeps your nerves jangling while the music still, somehow, offers you a welcoming hand. It’s a clever juxtaposition and one played out time and again, “Leopard” suggesting majesty and menace in equal measure, while “Mannen Men Bollen” almost feels like a lament that would have run alongside a tragic black and white movie.

The arrangements across this collection are simply fabulous, with space and distance offering as much intrigue as the notes being played, and yet, there is always more than enough to catch the ear in what Dahl has composed. I’d also suggest that a real eye for detail has been cast over the construction of the album as a whole, each track seemingly pulling you in from the last, opener “Postpop” inviting you onboard through the most readily impactful moment, while “Bornevise Fra Skinny” is almost mournful in its album closing. Although, as you’d hope, expect to experience a whole host of emotions along the way.

Very much a mood album, when the moment strikes, Music For Small Rooms really can be utterly captivating.

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