After building an impressive resume in TV and film (including an Emmy nod for his score to “The White Helmets”), Swedish composer Patrick Jonsson has released his first full-length album. This may be a debut, but only in name. Suddenly We Looked Like Giants is in turns tender, reflective, nostalgic, and dramatic ~ everything one desires in a film score, unrestricted by imposed cues.
This freedom allows Jonsson to write his own script. Recalling his Swedish childhood, he looks back on “the perceived invincibility of youth,” the inevitable loss of innocence, the harrowing of time and the acceptance of adulthood. This being said, the album is more wistful than sorrowful, marked by powerful passages that imply struggle and eventual gratitude. Lessons are learned, regrets are released, and in the process the composer grows into the shadows he once cast.
Johnsson strikes a fine balance between orchestral and electronic, incorporating the latter in a manner that enhances rather than distracts. The first time through, this comes as a surprise, as the title track is so restrained. Yet it makes sense when one hears the strings and piano as childhood purity, the drone as the intrusion of real life and the (occasional) beats as emotional combat. “Apoptosis” builds to an electronic surge, an indication that innocence is over. “Yrsnö” uses handclaps and staccato strings to reflect an inner and outer tempest. Will these cuts run deep enough to leave scars?
When the album revisits its earlier simplicity (“Still Life”), it sounds like the calm following a storm. The same instruments that earlier conveyed wonder now convey complexity. The intakes of breath in the closing track imply that the composer has stepped into the role he has written; the first nine tracks were then, but the tenth is now. The album folds in on itself, the final 1:10 a mirror of the opening bars. Physically, the artist has come full circle, but spiritually, he’s been renewed. (Richard Allen)