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Erik Dahl — Music for Small Rooms
(Bandcamp Svalka SVALKACD007, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-09-16

Music for Small Rooms Cover art

About a year ago we reviewed the Erik Dahl Ensemble’s Gethenian Suite, a beautiful instrumental slab of modern chamber folk informed by jazz, soundtracks, and more, evoking complex imagery and powerful emotions, all the while maintaining a calm, soothing environment. The six-piece ensemble included violin, viola, double bass, clarinet and bass clarinet, alto and bari sax, drums and percussion, with Dahl at the center of it all with piano and electronics. Music for Small Rooms is more of a gentle, piano-centric solo effort that features some of the same members of the ensemble on this track or that, plus a new player Filip Leyman on modular synth and percussion on four of the album’s ten cuts, but this is by no means an ensemble effort, instead Dahl’s piano pieces with added synthesizer, harmonium, guitar, wordless voices and more all played by Dahl with inputs from the ensemble players where they occur, but the overall feeling is far more sparse and introspective than his previous effort, almost borderline new-age at times, hinting at minimalism in a 70s ECM kind of way. It’s warm and inviting, and like its predecessor holds up to many repeat listens while still always revealing new details. Certain cuts, like “The Leopard,” “Natural Home,” and “Between Heartbeats” that offer more percussives and accompaniment tend to punctuate the sparseness that permeates some of the other pieces, yet in all cases melody reigns supreme throughout Dahl’s compositional style, which certainly does accurately reflect the album’s title, Music for Small Rooms, delicate and tasteful as it is, always retaining its subtle power.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Erik Dahl

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