Swedish proggist Kristoffer Gildenlöw covers so much ground on his fourth solo album, Let Me Be A Ghost, that it’s almost impossible to absorb unless you are prepared to immerse yourself in the record repeatedly. Only though hard work on your part as a listener can the full range of secrets Gildenlöw has to offer in his music be revealed. But it’s hard work that is handsomely rewarded.
Operating in what might broadly be described as a sort of prog noir, this is late night music for people with the time and inclination to acquaint themselves with the darker recesses of the psyche. Gildenlöw has a remarkable talent for matching his influences together where perhaps the casual observer might think they have no place to be; Blame It All On Me, for instance, lurches into earshot like something German composer Kurt Weill might have cooked up with Bertolt Brecht, before fusing a radio-friendly and very modern-sounding chorus to the song’s superstructure. That the juxtaposition works perfectly says a lot for our protagonist’s skill as a composer.
Elsewhere Falling Floating Sinking adds a bit of stadium metal heft to proceedings, but for the most part Let Me Be A Ghost is a sombre, introspective affair. Lean on Me is quite superb, a sparse, spare ballad augmented by the spine-tingling vocals of guest vocalist Erna auf der Haar and perfectly-formed guitar solo. And talking of guitar solos, the always-excellent Marcel Singor contributes a fine one to the foreboding, brooding Fleeting Thought, which fans of latter-day Opeth are sure to respond to.
The dramatic Where I Ought To Be builds tension superbly before Joris Lindner‘s urgent drumming facilitates release, the result being a wonderfully cinematic end to the track that is one of the highlights of the album. The Floydian instrumental and semi-titular Let Me Be A Ghost pt. II is similarly filmic, if that indeed is a word, ebbing and flowing beautifully and setting the listener up for the album’s strongest track, Still Enough, perfectly.
Still Enough, is, in short, quite superb. A supremely affecting piece of balladry, the masterful arrangement setting the controls for the heart of the listener’s, well, heart, and hitting the target with unerring precision. Gildenlöw’s understated vocal is quite wonderful, working against the delicate keyboard melody to achieve maximum effect.
A fine, fine album then, and one that comes highly recommended to fans of thoughtful, masterfully-constructed prog rock.
Let Me Be A Ghost releases on September 3rd.