Restored 01 June 2017, originally published 22 September 2014
All of you chill out and ambient fans are in luck. I’ve discovered new artists with large collections of releases, and I intend to share them. The first on my list is Mikael Fyrek, a Swede with a suite (too much?) of albums released between the years 2005 and 2010. Immediately noticeable is the fact that his releases all contain a relatively small number of tracks. Four to five are most common, which could indicate a sense of focus or a particular theme, depending on the album. Also notable, his album and track titles and even the various cover arts are inclined to the dramatic or fantastical. For example, “At rest at last my dice lay cast” on 2009’s I step into the advent…
“Between nothingness and eternity” on 2008’s A thousand years and one…
and “Bathing in a river of discordant music” on 2005’s I can finally see what the darkness looks like.
I must admit, I’m inclined to be wary of artists who use such seemingly pretentious titles, mostly because I find the art rarely lives up to such a grandiose name. However, in the case of Mikael Fyrek, I’m pleased to admit I was wrong. Nearly every track on every album is excellent and easily deserving of their respective names.
Let’s start with “Bathing in a river of discordant music”. It begins with lovely guitar progression and a looping tock tock tock of percussion. Soon the percussion expands, and we’re introduced to a variety of electronic sounds which reach into untouched corners of the sonic space.
As an aside, this was the first track I listened to by Mikael Fyrek. Up to this point, I thought the track was just okay. It was pleasant enough, but it lacked a cerebral element that I enjoy in my music. I was about ready to try something else when a beautiful echoing psychedelic sound tickled my ear canal. I was hooked. The track only got better with the introduction of chorus-like samples and synth work. At the end, it fades out in the same way it begins and leaves the listener wanting more, much more.
“Between nothingness and eternity” starts with tinkling chimes and what could be a failing heartbeat. It’s slow and deliberate as we – its owners – approach the Abyss. When we cross the edge, an angelic piano and guitar descend and the sound of the heartbeat deepens to merge with the sound of the eternal OM. On angel’s wings we fly out of the abyss and up toward the great light. As we ascend, the tempo steadily increases, and with ever-increasing haste we chase Forever as it unfolds before us. The track eventually fades, as all things temporal must, but not before instilling a sense of epic immanence and transcendent bliss.
“At rest at last my dice lay cast” opens with feedback. Static at first, it begins to oscillate, as though fate itself issued forth from the now resting dice. As the oscillation picks up the pace, swooning samples settle into the soundscape. Together, they transform, exploring the highs and lows of the terrain. This sense of motion continues as a heavy bass pad comes in to usher us onward. Along the way, the heaviness is tempered by a light, cheery glockenspiel. The beat rocks steady until a swirling, buzzing synth reminiscent of the iconic Royksöpp is introduced. We’re accompanied by all of these elements through the end of the song. Overall, it’s high-spirited and invigorating.
Mikael Fyrek’s music is of the highest calibre. From the expansive soundscapes and heavy bass, to the timely psychedelia and mellow vibes, Fyrek’s sense of balance, direction, progression, and crescendo are everything I look for in ambient music. I only hope he hasn’t left the scene permanently.
As for which album to start with, I’m not so sure it matters. It’s always nice to see how an artist’s style evolves chronologically, but you can’t go wrong with any of these albums.
Mikael Fyrek – I can finally see what the darkness looks like – “Bathing in a river of discordant music”
Mikael Fyrek – A thousand years and one – “Between nothingness and eternity”
Official site (you can hear/acquire most of the albums here)
I can finally see what the darkness looks like release page