It’s easy to lose track of fresh, creative and sophisticated instrumental music because avenues for that non-commercially viable and divided genre are limited. You won’t see a promotion advert for it on national television, unless it’s part of a new age supplement aiding self-therapy at midnight and it’s barely heard on radio unless it’s of the classical variety. Even with those potential outlets, the music is generally ancient.
That is why when Sweden’s Detektivbyrån released their album Wermland in 2008 receiving praise for its Yann Tiersen music-box qualities and earned them two Grammis Awards, fans surprised by the entertainment that vocal-less albums could bring, promised to be glued to the genre. Detektivbryån have now dissolved and like I said, it’s difficult to keep track of other musicians who might have been part of the same scene. However, a new instrumental four-piece has risen from the shadows that are also from Sweden (Stockholm instead of Karlstad): Daniel Westin Quartet (“Kvartett” in the Swedish name) and their melodic Scandinavia-symbolic instrumental Jazz could be the next saviors.
Early promise is shown from their focused and measured live performances at Teaterstudio Lederman (which can be seen on the head pianist Daniel Westin’s website), their decision to team up with an experienced and prolific jazz producer Åke Linton and the fact that they have recorded their debut album Notes at innovative recording studio Svenska Grammofon Studion in Gothenburg.
An abundance of exceptional releases have been produced there in recent years, from Jose Gonzalez’s Vestiges and Claws, released earlier in the year, Manna’s Songs of Hope and Desire, Wildbirds & Peacedrums’ The Snake and The Hives’ Lex Hives and it’s mix of classic and legendary equipment with futuristic forward-thinking technology mean that Daniel Westin Quartet have all the best arsenal at their disposal.
Although, their debut album Notes isn’t released until May 15 via Strangers Candy, we have an exclusive premiere of the album’s latest single “Hymn“. Strangers Candy are a small open minded label that don’t have a specific bias towards a genre. Label mates Clients Grappell are an acoustic folk duo and Francis are an indie pop group founded in 2006. Yet like with most Scandinavian communities, there appears to be a close connection with the bands with Daniel Westin already being part of experimental psych-indie pop band Humfree Bug Art – very memorable for their hypnotic house-of-mirrors video “Flowers” – and Bengtsarvet fitting the instrumental pigeon hole with their synth-post-rock.
Our first taster of Daniel Westin Quartet’s debut album Notes is “Hymn”, a journey that’s both mellow like relaxing in the garden on a Sunday morning without a care in the world, and urgent like being stuck in rush hour at the start of a working week. A rapid loop of piano tapping begins the track with pressured exigency and remains constant through the circa five minutes as soothing exotic guitars performed by Sebastian Svensson Nylin attempt to calm it down.
A second subtle and imbalanced piano with spacious keys by Daniel Westin also comes to its assistance. Just when the harmony has a mutual understanding, a sharp double bass calls for attention (Jonatan Lundin), plucking loudly and demanding for its own solo, bolstered up by shimmering crescendo cymbals (Oscar Eriksson). A dream-like sprinkle of sparkles gorgeously as the second piano shines in its glow. Fingers crossed that the entire album will contain the same invigorating magic. Listen to “Hymn” below and pre-order it here on iTunes.
Words by Matt Hobbs
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