Tobias Hellkvist: Transports
Tobias Hellkvist

Sweden-born Hellkvist operates in the meditative, electroacoustic soundscape genre, and uses guitar and computer to generate vast, blurry ambient drones that shimmer and shudder. Though the field is growing ever-crowded, Hellkvist's solo debut Transports is certainly a credible example of the form. What's especially appealing about it is its narrative trajectory, how it segues from the initial louder settings to quieter ones during the middle.

The introductory “Aching” pursues a linear trajectory as it builds in volume and mass; to his credit, Hellkvist resists the obvious gesture—shredding the listener's eardrums with an abrasive climax—, opting instead for a grandiose but not overbearing peak. Multiple layers of voices push “When Everything Fell Apart” towards a more heavenly realm, while, arriving at the halfway mark, the peaceful acoustic guitar setting “Moment at Ven” offers a respite from the album's electronically-oriented style (though here too subtle digital enhancements are applied); only the inclusion of seagulls cries is questionable, as they needlessly overstate the case. That peaceful aura extends into the subsequent pieces “Inner Map” and the meditative vocal interlude “Nothingland” before “Plans” ends the album much as it began with a slow-rising wave of blur and shimmer. The third setting's title, “Slowly but Surely,” succinctly captures Hellkvist's general approach, as the album's material as a whole unfurls gradually but confidently.

July 2007