“I hope you realise, we’re all naive cats.”
For Lukas Nystrand, themes of hope, faith, and belief frame the artistic field-of-view. And for the past couple of years, guided by these ideas and healthy imaginations of a better place, the notion of a new destination for all good hearts has emerged – one inhabited by feline angels, a place known as Katthimmel, or Cat Heaven.
For Lukas and fellow instrumentalist Karl Johansson, the Katthimmel EP is a resounding message of faith in such a place.
Recorded over a period of two years, conducted mostly by Nystrand, and originally accompanied by his installation-art pieces, these songs are excerpts from a full-length album to be released later this year. Part of the reason I like these tracks so much is because they pull a lot of their personality from the fact that very little effort was put into their production. As Lukas says, “Production-wise this EP is just as improvised as the music. We spent perhaps 5 minutes getting the levels right before each take. I am a fiend of crappy production. Well, not necessarily crappy, but I don’t want to “overdo” things and lose focus of the music. For better or worse, the stuff we did here sounds like it does a little by chance. But then again, chance can be pretty close to music sometimes.”
Indeed it’s with this sort of willful neglect that Nystrand and Johansson create their arrangements of varied texture, timbre, and dynamics. Rhythmically and melodically they trade places with remarkable fluidity and ease, their entry and exit points rarely surprising but not automatic or entirely predictable. I think it’s a combination of this loose compositional and performance discipline and a simplified audio approach that plays a big role in making their brand of improvisation successful, and you can hear it particularly well in “Waltz” and “Moffa”.
When considering improvised music, perhaps an ideal space for both the musician and listener is to land somewhere between thinking too little and thinking too much about the composition. You benefit from being in a state of observation that’s open to paradox, a method of thinking that can accept precision and anarchy in the same moment. Or a heaven ruled by cats.
Cover art by Lukas Nystrand.
Netlabel: Please Do Something
Release Date: 2004-01-19