After nearly 14 years of producing music, the native Swedish musician and label owner Pär Grindvik has released his debut album on his own Stockholm LTD imprint. His appearances on labels such as Drumcode, Truesoul and Spectral Sound have shown his ability to deliver groundbreaking techno, but for me, it was mostly Grindvik’s collaboration with Dustin Zahn for the remix of Truncate’s “Mira Mar” that made me lose myself on an outdoor rave in Cologne a few months ago. Therefore, it was a big honor for me to get the opportunity to review his new album “Isle Of Real”.
The most interesting part of this album is definitely the variety it offers. Grindvik has left behind his usual style of heavyweight techno and created beautiful and melancholic soundscapes instead. As the now in Berlin based producer pointed out himself, the album is inspired by “spaces once inhabited, long since abandoned and reclaimed by the creep of nature”. For those that crave some new DJ material to devastate dancefloors, you won’t be disappointed.
Never Give In:
As I mentioned, Grindvik shows his capability of producing spherical electronica pieces with serious potential to dream away. The album also starts out this way with “Never Give In”. It’s a drumless piece of music, which builds on a floating pad sound. Although it’s one of the lightest tracks on the album, it still sets the tone with an ambient feel for the overall dark vibe of the LP.
The second track “Headland” combines devastating drums with hypnotic synth patterns. The most interesting part of the track is the unique bassline that brings a lot of momentum to the track. It kinda reminds me of the sound of a boomerang that cuts through the air. A swingy layer on top emphasizes this feeling. A xylophone-esque synth-lead, which seems to blend in when it wants to, adds the final vitality to the track.
“The Marlton” offers a groovy combination of reverbed bass and white noise cuts from the beginning. An arpeggiated synth pattern and a creeping saw lead into playful brass chords, which form the main theme of the track. A whipping hi-hat pushes the track forward until it reaches its climax with an additional pad. Overall, it’s an unique piece of techno that will captivate you with its unconventional weirdness.
For “Shine”, Grindvik has experimented with drum patterns as to create a liquid dum & bass loop, which fades into warm pad layers. A fast playing top melody rounds off this little excursion into foreign soundscapes.
Isle Of Real:
With “Isle Of Real” we are getting to my personal favorite of the album. Grindvik has teamed up with the Swedish synth-noir master Roll the Dice to create a moody piece of melancholy. You can definitely hear the Berlin influence as it amounts to a modern tribute to David Bowie’s soundtrack for “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo”. Personally, I imagined a morning walk home from a mystic night in Berghain.
Limits Of Real:
As I mentioned earlier, Grindvik demonstrates his capability of producing music in an album context rather than just collecting tracks. This seems to reflect in the relationship between “Limits Of Real” and the previous “Isle Of Real”. While “Isle Of Real” shows the ambient influence on the LP, “Limits of Real” finds its way back into functional club techno.
“Holy Nothing” can be classified as another banging techno anthem that captivates you through different sound characteristics. Instead of using mesmerizing arps, Grindvik uses metallic techno stabs.
After two serious techno anthems, the Swedish musician gets back to deep ambient music. “Shelter” uses a relaxing pad that contains a bouncy drum loop, consisting of a dull kick drum and some shakers. Suitable for a night drive on a highway or a train ride while you enjoy the landscapes that are passing by!
Tide Us Apart:
“Tide Us Apart” is by far the most interesting piece of the LP. The track uses arped drop sounds, floating pads with a cello-esque sound characteristic and likely field recorded percussion elements. One minute and 35 seconds to zone out completely.
For the outro of the album, Grindvik has chosen another functional techno track. A shuffling hi-hat and a peaking synth deliver a constant groove and a dark warehouse feel. Certainly finishing the LP with a bang!
“Isle Of Real” is out now on Stockholm LTD. The album can be streamed and purchased via Bandcamp.