Rumpistol ‘Isola’ LP (Raske Plader) 3/5

Characterised by its meditative, cinematic sound, “Isola” is the latest project from award-winning Danish producer, film composer, electronic musician and pianist Jens B. Christiansen (aka Rumpistol). Occupying a space between ambient music, jazz, and neo-classical stylings, for this recording, the composer expands upon the quartet line-up of his 2020 release “After The Flood”, with minimalist soundscapes crafted from the subtle integration of the added instruments; violin, cello, drums, bass, lap steel guitar and vocals.

Christiansen’s career; emerging 20 years ago as a well-respected solo artist and electronic music creator, has seen a natural progression through the years, to this moment in time where this new release showcases a composer adept at merging instruments, styles and individual musical personalities successfully into his music.
Part of this evolution can be attributed to the stress-related burn-out that Christiansen experienced in 2018 which radically changed the way he works.
“Isola is the Latin name for ‘island’ which shares the language stem with the word ‘isolation’” he explains. “It not only refers to the state that the world has been in the last few years; it also refers to the basic conditions of every human being and a newfound need for grounding and a reconnection with nature.”

Such is the organic approach to the music that the additional guest appearances – of which there are several – come from all over the musical spectrum. What is key though, is that the album’s ambience is consistent throughout, with its contemplative atmosphere carefully constructed in a way that nothing jars or seems out of place. The themes and stylistic approach taken by Christiansen open up many possibilities for the composer/producer, and he takes great care in making sure that the delicate nature of the music is never harshly treated.

“Isola”, essentially, could be a film score. And with that said, there are positives and negatives. On the plus side, Christiansen has crafted beautiful moods that flow freely out from all of the tracks on the recording. The ambient feel to the music allows the listener to engage deeply as the album progresses. Quaint melodies sit comfortably alongside a gentle, haunting lyricism. On the critical side though, one might say that the music can sound a little lost or lacking in direction, almost as if the listener needs to hear the music alongside the film it could accompany. And indeed one could argue that the music on “Isola” is perhaps more of an ‘accompaniment’ than a stand-alone work. But then the imagination is a wonderful thing, and if one allows it to run free, the music of “Isola” creates its own story and has the capacity to take the listener on their very own personal journey.

Mike Gates