Gustaf Ljunggren with Skúli Sverrisson ‘Floreana’ LP/CD (April) 4/5

Swedish multi-instrumentalist and composer Gustaf Ljunggren has teamed up with Icelandic bass player and composer Skúli Sverrisson to create “Floreana”, a wonderfully atmospheric album. Awash with luscious soundscapes of lyrical beauty, the duo have created a mesmerising recording that allows the listener to breathe in, relax, and exhale. Akin to a golden light meditation, the music is transformative, healing in its gentle, altruistic nature.

Ljunggren’s musical language is clear, thoughtful, and melodic, and the pieces chosen for this album all share a sense of weaving past and future together into the present. About the music on “Floreana”, Ljunggren reflects: “I listened inwards, and it sounded like this. Melodies came to the surface, and I chose to say ‘yes’ to them, embrace them, carry them forward. My musical partner on this album, Skúli Sverrisson, has been with me throughout this process; embracing the music with both profound dedication and artistic boldness.”

There’s a feeling of warmth and inclusion throughout this album; musical spaces that reveal possibilities to listen inwards, aided by repetition in melodies and patterns. The music doesn’t seek climaxes as much as it seeks states of presence and attention. The main instrumentation is from Ljunggren’s guitars; in forms like pedal steel, lap steel, mando, and electric guitars. The sounds are woven together in a gorgeous tapestry of sound, a colour-wash if you like, for the artists to paint their musical pictures in hues that build gradually in texture and gentle iridescence.

Sverrisson’s bass adds depth and meaning to the soundscapes, not just in sound, but also in feel. The duo clearly share a sense of intuition, with intelligently layered sounds reflecting a thought process that offers differing depths depending on how one chooses to listen to this album. As a background, the beautiful ambience of the lap or pedal steel guitars sound simply gorgeous. The character of the music is infused with love and life. Listening up-close is highly rewarding. One can really feel the emotive energy, the power of the various instruments used, the rise and fall of the subtleties and nuances that lay beneath the surface, just waiting to be discovered. A breath of fresh air indeed. Sublime.

Mike Gates