Tumult Kollektiv’s latest soundtrack proves just how much the group is willing to grow and expand in terms of artistic vision. Where 2019’s Pine was a tight, lush impressionist landscape, Hundred Days is relaxed, indulgent in melodies straight out of the late 2000s classically-inclined post-rock playbook (think Sunwrae, Peter Broderick, Poppy Ackroyd…). For instance, the opener track, “Money in the Bank and Wine in the Tank”, begins with an ambient drone that swiftly builds up a sense of calm, followed by a bittersweet melody of plucked strings and strikes reminiscent of compositions by Ólafur Arnalds or the brighter, quicker parts of Goldmund’s catalogue.
The bittersweetness is important, since it underlines the entire album as a stroke of nostalgic feelings, of being fully at ease within a timeframe we know will someday come to an end. The game is about managing a winemaking enterprise, billed as a fantasy of the “good life” that all sorts of communal farming and romanticized rural life games have explored in the past few years. It is understandable that in a context of precariousness and uncertainty, the appeal of stable self-reliance and healthy social relationships beyond the dark satanic mills grows ever more prescient, and with it, an entire array of media escapes like the one Hundred Days offers. Musically speaking, Tumult Kollektiv have crafted an equally powerful bubble of tranquility, although its sweet strings and playful accordion interventions cannot help but signal its fragility, like a hollowed-out memory we know was once fully there, but is now a fragment of a recollection. This is the kind of nostalgia the album’s made of: the wish for a certainty to be found only in free play, a romantic utopia that in seeming complete betrays its ephemeral character.
Tracks like “Rolling Hills” and “High on Wine” are great representatives of this bittersweet emotion, quiet and beautifully composed string melodies whose joyful tone is born from subdued contrasts that, for this listener in particular, tend towards a kind of shimmering sadness. The album’s end brings a more cheery tone, though the sentimental subtleties that the group have explored across the rest of the music have a strong bearing upon its sweet finale. As videogame music, it is meant to repeat, its ending thus suggesting a nostalgic continuity of feelings born from a desire to play freely in a world that offers true respite only to the extremely select few. Don’t take me wrong: this music is plain soothing, but its embrace is not superficial, and its happy journey will also take you through other emotional states.
I can’t wait to see what the Kollektiv does next, because their own journey seems very far from over, and the path from Pine to Hundred Days was not as straightforward as it might seem at first glance. Cheers, to the next one! (David Murrieta Flores)