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Tor Lundvall

Empty City

(Strange Fortune; US: 27 Mar 2006; UK: Available as import)

Empty City continues Tor Lundvall’s tradition of making some of the most aurally pleasant ambient music out there.  There’s not one startling moment to be found on the whole of Empty City, not one thing that’ll make you jump up and take notice, nor a single squelch of feedback or rip of static.  This is pure atmosphere, all hollow synth tones, atmospheric noises, and the occasional beat made out of quiet, heavily reverbed percussion.  Eschewing his recent pattern of adding words to the short pieces he composes, Lundvall here relegates his voice to the role of a mere instrument amongst the mix—his pure tenor is a perfect fit for floating over the top of “Buildings and Rain”, and the “la da da da” bits in “Empty City” humanize it in a way that Lundvall’s synthetic instrument patches don’t.  If there’s a criticism to be leveled against Lundvall’s work here, it’s that the brevity of the album (no track exceeds 4:05, and the entire album is a mere 40 minutes) works against it, interjecting too many bits of silence to break up the quiet, never really allowing enough time for the music to establish its identity.  When you think of an “empty city”, you think endless landscapes filled with tenant-free buildings, abandoned cars, and dust swirling down unused roads.  The predominant image that appears when listening to Empty City is that of a dark, blacklight-laden, smoke-filled apartment at 4:30 in the morning.  There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but it is an indication that Empty City misses its intended mark, if just a bit.  Still, if you’re a fan of Lundvall’s, you won’t want to miss it.

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Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.


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