What does Linus Alberg sound like?
Delicate upright piano mixed with textured sounds.
The review of Linus Alberg – Elements
German composer and producer Linus Alberg makes his Moderna Records debut with ‘Elements’, an incredibly delicate and sensitive album. Featuring an oft-muted and underplayed upright Yamaha piano, Linus focuses his compositions on understated melodies. You won’t find dramatic piano board smashes here. Instead, you’ll be peering into a world of suspended animation.
The album opens with the intimate ‘Herbst Waltz’, a short and coy piece. It introduces you to the recording style of the upright piano. Linus has captured all the hammers and creaks without sacrificing the richness of the key tone. Whilst Alberg stays intentionally soft and pitter-patterful here, ‘Panther’ shows that bass resonance hides in the shadow. With ‘Panther’, we’re drawn into Alberg’s more comprehensive sound design. As a simple but catchy chord progression plays out textured synths and a trumpet join for wisps and curls of additional noise. The smallest kick drum turns the piano hammers into percussive beats. The whole track reminds me of a slightly more relaxed Svaneborg Kardyb.
Whilst the opening two tracks have full song structures, ‘Tides’ features a looped motif on repeat that slowly slides in and out as the world around it slowly shifts. It is a beautifully meditative piece. The song is the very definition of wistful and could be a backing for any quiet and reflective slice-of-life movie. ‘Vienna’ on the other hand has a staccato single piano note dramatically building tension for the first half of the track. As the harmonium and trumpet join in to create a mysterious swirl, the piano takes on an almost generative synth effect as if it is trying to shapeshift. The interplay of soft trumpet and piano here is superb as the instruments don’t play the roles you expect. The piano is the aggravator and the trumpet is the soother as the brushed air blowing lulls you to slumber.
Much of the second half of the album is more introspective, slower and thoughtful. ‘Oasj’ and ‘Feather’ feel like sister tracks as they are both slow, careful and the most melodically abstract that Linus Alberg delivers. ‘Particle’ uses a generative particle effect on the upright piano on every note has an echoing shimmer of notes behind it. In some ways, it is the most bombastic track on the album. Linus plays at pace and uses plenty of other instruments to paint the world around the piece. It threatens to become a dance piece but no percussion joins in and the bass is sparse, leaving it to sound like a dancing cloud. The closing piece ‘Winds’ is a track of two distinct halves. The first is piano-led with a melody that winds down like a music box running out of steam. When it runs out of power, ambient synths and distant echoes of piano glide in effortlessly to back a lead trumpet duo that warmly caresses their breeze over the second half. It sounds like an opulent azure dream.
This is an intimate album that doesn’t lie down and surrender. Whilst the ballads and quieter moments are truly beautiful, it’s the duality of passion and softness that really sparks ‘Elements’ for me. There is an essence of quiet power and confidence bubbling under those more dynamic and strident pieces that many other composers would choose to overdo. Not here. Linus Alberg delivers a succinct and powerful album that fans of contemporary classical music will adore.
Recommended track: Panther
Support Higher Plain Music
Higher Plain Music is part of the Higher Plain Network – a one-man indie media project. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. In return, you’ll receive additional perks for supporting me, such as behind-the-scenes content and free downloads. You can also donate using PayPal. Sharing the website helps too or using the affiliate buy now links on reviews. I receive a few pence per Amazon sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. I’d love to make this a full-time media network and your support can make that happen. Thank you.