Tape: Milieu Plus
Minority Records

Issued in a limited 500-copy run, Milieu plus is the gorgeous vinyl edition of Tape's sophomore release Milieu (Häpna) that supplements the material laid down at the original 2003 recording session with four additional tracks. Spreading a dozen pieces over four sides may mean that the unified impression of the CD presentation is diminished but it's a small price to pay when the transparent yellow vinyl glows so beautifully on the turntable. On the follow-up to Tape's 2002 Opera debut, the Stockholm-based trio of Tomas Hallonsten and siblings Andreas and Johan Berthling meld a mini-orchestra of sounds—acoustic guitar, organ, banjo, violin, harmonium, trumpet, electronics, field recordings, and more—into enveloping sonic webs. The limpid pools that result transcend any one genre to become instead organic amalgams where a harmonica's wheeze, vibraphone's glow, and accordion's shimmer peacefully co-habit. The mood is generally peaceful and the pace unhurried, and the meditative ambiance imbues the music with wistful and nostalgic character. There are standout moments—the heavenly chord progression in “Augustan Chateau” is particularly lovely, and the subtly countrified breeze of melodica, steel guitar, and vibes that blows through “Golden Twig” is pretty too—but the impact of Tape's sonic aviaries is more cumulative than individually track-based.

July 2008