The combination of David Wenngren (piano and celeste) and Julia Kent (cello) makes the music add up to more than the sum of its parts. The impact is not felt at first, but repeated plays bring out the undertones. Especially telling is the way the last track leads back to the first. If a plot is to be gleaned, it is that of a person looking back at a divine summer spent by the sea. After some manner of heartbreak, this person wishes to move on, but can’t ~ it takes longer than expected, but finally some closure is achieved. The cello-borne tones of yearning and sorrow are unmistakable. Wenngren has chosen his recording partner well, and who better to bring one out of heartache but a friend?
The title track provides a slight break from the emotional scenery, as the piano frolics in the surf. Is the sea an escape from the daily life, or is daily life an escape from a tragic memory of the sea? By extension, might a listener escape from one’s own daily life to be immersed in someone else’s nostalgia, and by so doing find a manner of catharsis? While we can’t answer the first question, the answer to the second is an unqualified yes. It’s good to meditate on someone else’s sorrow every once in a while, and to muse on the shared nature of suffering. And to hear that someone else has crawled from the wreckage is downright encouraging.
Wenngren’s style has subtly changed over the years, from sepia-toned, crackled imaginings to something more overt. The ghosts still remain, but are now gliding instead of haunting. Well into his second decade, the artist has continued to expand his tonal palette. We feel guilty for saying that his sadness makes us happy, but we never could resist such beauty. (Richard Allen)