Review of Our House Is On The Wall [12k1061]

Textura (CA)

The latest project from David Wenngren, best known for the textured, piano-based work he’s released under the Library Tapes name, is a collaboration with his partner Ylva Wiklund called Murralin Lane. Based out of Eskilstuna, Sweden, the group came into being in 2009 when Wenngren asked her to sing on a song he thought would benefit from female vocals. Though she’d never sung on any recordings before, they were so pleased with the result they decided to develop it into a full-fledged project and album, which was recorded at their home during spring and early summer of 2010. Weighing in at just over thirty-two minutes, <i>Our House Is On The Wall</i> might be more mini-album than full-length but, as listeners familiar with Wenngren’s past releases will know, he typically opts for brevity over bloat in his releases.

Murralin Lane includes distressed textures and ambient drones as part of its make-up but the group is not Library Tapes with vocals. Piano is absent, and the instruments that are present have been melded into a stuttering flow. The group cites Twin Peaks, Grouper, Fennesz, Colleen, Stina Nordenstam, and Julianna Barwick as influences, but it’s the first two that stand out most noticeably. In places Wiklund’s voice sounds similar to Julee Cruise’s, especially when the singing punctures the material’s stroboscopic haze with its reverberant presence (e.g., “She Was Climbing”).“Folding Paper Planes” is like the childhood memory of a carousel filtered through the hazy scrim of memory, with Wiklund’s voice occasionally speckling the surface like light striking water. The vocals in “She Collected” and “When I Told You” turn incantatory when her haunted vocalizing penetrates their grainy mists. Apparently her voice, naturally fragile and ethereal to begin with, was sometimes recorded through a mobile phone for effect, which bolsters the music’s dusty character even more. Not every track includes vocals, however, with some (e.g., “In The Woods”) dedicated to textural abstractions alone.

At the tail end of “When I Told You,” a brief section is included where the vocal and sounds are so decayed, what comes to mind is the image of a record player and vinyl disc, having been exhumed from an attic where they were buried for a half-century under layers of dust and grime, being played for the first time. It’s an image that any one of the album’s seven ghostly meditations might be capable of evoking.

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