Kristoffer Gildenlöw - Rust

(CD 2013, 54:34, GlassVille GVR012)

The tracks:
  1- Callout(6:22)
  2- Believe(4:36)
  3- Desire(4:16)
  4- Follow Me Down(4:32)
  5- Overwinter(4:36)
  6- Längtan(2:23)
  7- Heroes(5:12)
  8- Save My Soul(5:21)
  9- Rust(7:37)
10- Story Ends(5:54)
11- Living Soil(4:20)

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A year after the release of Kristoffer Gildenlöw's Rust as a luxury vinyl album, it became available on CD. With a great release party in Alphen a/d Rijn (see review), Gildenlöw and his band presented the shiny little disc to a live audience. For people who aren't familiar with this Swedish musician, I will try to give a brief overview of his musical career. Being the bass player of Pain Of Salvation, the band of his brother Daniel Gildenlöw, he recorded six albums, before leaving to start a solo career. Ending up in the Netherlands, he found a new base from where he could make a fresh start.

Together with his wife Liselotte, he formed Dial and after this Gildenlöw participated in projects and played on numerous albums from The Damian Wilson Band, For All We Know (see review), Lana Lane, Neal Morse and lately Epysode, just to name a few. He worked on a solo album for the last six years which resulted in the release of the vinyl version of Rust last year and recently the CD version has been released with two additional tracks. On this album he plays most of the instruments and apart from a number of stunning vocalists he was assisted by guitarists Paul Coenradie and Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation, Maiden United,  For All We Know) and keyboardist Fredrik Hermansson (Pain Of Salvation). To enumerate all guest musicians would take too much space, so read the booklet to find out who's playing on the CD.

The first track Callout already indicates the direction of Gildenlöw's music, namely a very intense, melancholic kind of prog rock with vocals that affects your soul. On the one hand the guest musicians play sublime, but on the other they sound rather modest leaving all the room for Kristoffer to express himself. People who are familiar with the singing of his brother in Pain Of Salvation will be surprised, because Kristoffer's vocals sound even intenser than his brother's! From the bottom of his heart he expresses his deepest emotions sung through a mike or through a telephone in Callout.

On Believe Gildenlöw is accompanied by just a modest slide guitar and the soft finger picking sounds of a second guitar thus creating a smooth atmosphere that musically reminds me a bit of Calexico, although the unique vocals 'flaw' this comparison. Next is Desire that maintains the intense atmosphere even enhanced by many voices. Primarily this song is a piano based composition, pointing out the fabulous combination of voices. When Follow Me Down starts, the atmosphere of Desire is still running around my brain, but this next composition takes me a bit further. Apart from the angelic female vocals, the focus is also on the instrumental parts and the soundscape parts fully capture the song's intention.

Overwinter proves how Gildenlöw manages to stay perfectly in tune in the entire vocal range from the lower relaxed parts to the soft, but high-pitched parts. Accompanied by piano, a soft cello and a violin, he plays a fretless bass part that perfectly fits this piece. Earlier I already referred to the multi-layered vocals; during Längtan you'll get the ultimate harmony vocals. Being a brilliant director Kristoffer Gildenlöw combines various voices thus creating the atmosphere of a campfire on the beach with some friends and a cold beer. Heroes gently moves along with a range of slightly computerized vocals that eventually become a song that might open doors to a wider audience. In my opinion this one should be picked up by the national radio and be broadcasted just to open the listener's eyes and ears, because there's more than only dull, boring, middle of the road and mainstream music in life. The piano-orientated piece Save My Soul brings you back to the base of this album, namely pure emotion. The vocals get doubled several times and create that special atmosphere Rust has. For this song the minimalistic approach works out fine: a sole piano together with some great directed vocals are all you need.

In my opinion the absolute highlight is the album's title track. I get shivers down my spine when the classical guitars are mixed with the pre-recorded interviews. And when the electric guitar plays a soft solo on top of it, this piece only gets better and builds up nicely to an actual duel between two guitarists. After this slightly heavier song an electric piano returns to Story Ends featuring the same kind of emotions as in Save My Soul, although this is a real solo piece: just Kristoffer's voice and an electric piano. Living Soul, the second song that wasn't presented on the vinyl version, is the CDs final song. It combines the powerful parts of the title track with the emotion throughout the album. The acoustic guitars and the piano are accompanied by a floating bass and a hidden electric guitar, a worthy end of this perfect album.

Last year I already knew that this great album was a special one; with the release of this CD a wider audience can be reached to enjoy this outstanding album. For me Rust contains fifty-five minutes of brilliancy and I guess this will be the first time an album appears in my year list twice in a row. Rust is pure, intense and honest and I think it will remain in my CD player for a long time!

***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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