Flaming Pines ~ Tiny Portraits (Swedish Series)

tiny-swedish-portraitsFlaming Pines’ Tiny Portraits series has reached #16!  The latest batch is the Swedish series, and contains recordings from Tobias Hellkvist, Peter Olsén, Kate Carr and Dag Rosenqvist.  It’s the quietest batch to date, perfect for the post-holiday blur.

The inspiration for the first recording follows this theme to a T.  When he was younger, Tobias Hellkvist used to come home from parties and lie down in the green grass “reflecting, contemplating, listening to the emptiness, the distant freeway, the wind and the birds, before falling asleep.”  (We hope he didn’t just pass out on the lawn!)  As an adult, he returns home to recreate this sonic memory.  One imagines his parents being pleased to see their son and warmed by the thought that he still considers the house a home.  As one might expect, the sound field of 5 AM is soft yet full, a gentle drone washed over it all like the glow of nostalgia and grateful memory.  The recording seems like a dream of inner and outer peace; the mind is winding down as the town is waking up.

Peter Olsén‘s eat the world of yesterday to make room for today is more of an elegy than a recapturing of childhood.  The track begins with the sound of running water and the crunching of underwater creatures.  As it turns out, these are only puddles: the last remnants of flood lands that after years of ravaging have finally been drained for good.  Occasional piano notes punctuate the recording, which offers dignity to the final pools as they die.  The woods will no longer flood, but the microbes and amphibians will have no place to go.  One environment suffers while another benefits.  As light screeches enter the sound field, one can’t help but think of their final throes.

While visiting Sweden, Kate Carr falls asleep in the forest ~ a fairy tale version of Tobias Hellkvist’s childhood.  She dreams of “water lilies, moss, sun and blueberries”, and when she awakens, she translates her dream into a compact composition.  Perhaps It Was Just A Dream About Water Lilies opens with the sound of rushing water, hearkening back to the past life of Olsén’s subject matter, and quickly adds percussive and dronelike tones.  While listening, one can imagine tiny creatures coming out of the forest to look at Carr and her equipment and to decide whether to jinx her or help her. While she might never see these denizens of the woods, she can imagine them, and their fantastical nature works its way into the recording.

Keiller’s Park is filled with ghosts; at least that’s what Dag Rosenqvist suspects as he plays back his field recordings, only to hear strange frequencies and unidentifiable sounds.  The park is filled with ancient stones and generations of trees, all of which have stood mute as the pages of history have turned.  Midway through the piece, one can even hear the footsteps of horses.  But the artist is neither frightened nor dismayed; he integrates the found sounds in his composition, allowing them to be the baseline for slow, gentle melodies.  In the final minutes, his drones surge forth like memories that won’t be denied; yet despite the recording’s eerie background, the last surge comes across as oddly comforting, the closing piano notes operating as a peaceful coda.  (Richard Allen)

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