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Eric Malmberg - Den Gåtfulla Människan

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Artist: Eric Malmberg

Album: Den Gåtfulla Människan

Label: Hapna

Review date: Jul. 13, 2005

Ex-Sagor & Swing organist Eric Malmberg’s breezy instrumental work has always evoked the natural environment of his native Sweden. Spirited, yet enjoyably languid, his solo disc Den Gåtfulla Människan is a continuation of his elemental explorations. Occult without being evasive, Malmberg’s work suggests the otherworldly while providing plenty of visceral thrills.

Without Sagor mate Ulf Möller’s jazzy drumming, Malmberg delves more deeply into the mysteries. Delicate, prog-tinged epics are the order of the day, replete with melodies that drift like mist around the foot of some gnarled oak. Percussive elements appear in the form of simple, repetitive rhythms from an archaic beatbox. Ricocheting against Malmberg’s organ, they produce stark shapes and skeletal figures. Drones and shimmering pads tie each of Den Gåtfulla Människan’s tunes together. It’s amazing that compositions this fully realized could be produced by one instrument with little, if any, post-production effects.

Opener “Det högre medvetandet” feeds upon itself like an aural uroboros, as tendrils of tone unwind and rejoin in centrifugal melodies and countermelodies. “Jagef’s” repeating figure and bass pedal pulses suggest a mystical union between Phillip Glass and Arvo Pärt – with Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter officiating. “Språk och tankestrukturer” makes fantastic use of distance, emerging from the heavens like a golden ladder reaching down to the underworld. Glistening arpeggios dart about the main melody like witches around a Maypole.

Ambient washes and ghostly clatter haunt the introduction of “Delpersonligheterna,” which subsequently evolves into a hymn-like meditation before drifting back into the ether. The lovely “Människan och evigheten” closes the album with a tactful introspection that borders on the melancholy. In the song’s wistful finale, slivers of noise streak across the aural horizon.

Even without his longtime musical associate, Malmberg is a highly engaging artist. Den Gåtfulla Människan is a sure bet for anyone seeking a new musical oracle.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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