Carl Hultgren


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Carl Hultgren already had over 20 years of experience under his belt as half of space rock/ambient guitar pioneers Windy & Carl when he began work on what would become his 2014 solo debut Tomorrow. Along with partner Windy Weber (who turned in a fantastic solo debut of her own in 2008's darkly beautiful I Hate People), Hultgren collaborated on a massive discography that wavered between soothing baths of sound and thick, brooding drones, his contributions tending more toward dense walls of highly processed guitar tones which would help establish the overarching tones of W&C compositions. Tomorrow, an album inspired by the hopefulness, positivity, and relief of moving into a new house in a new neighborhood, finds Hultgren shedding some of his icy drones and sun-dazed meditations and exploring more lighthearted, optimistic perspectives. The resultant hour or so of music that spun out of these explorations is by far more compositional than much of Hultgren's work in his main band, with sounds like the flickering distortion and clean lead guitar melody of "As Sure As" feeling like deliberate statements instead of wandering explorations. The influence of legends like the Durutti Column's Vini Reilly can be heard in faint echoes of the clean, airy tones of "No Other," while the placid album-closer "Found My Home" recalls the calm contentedness of Brian Eno's most successful ambient excursions. The sense of exploration here transcends the long-form meditation on a single lingering feeling that can define so much ambient music. Instead, the songs of Tomorrow branch out with a sense of open-hearted daring, trying on pastoral folk-country accents on "In This Land," anxious industrial clatter on "Hidden," and haunted, melancholic, 4AD-styled atmosphere on "Invisible." The album reaches its summit with "Transparency and Light," an 18-minute epic that sprawls out in a twilight dance between soft synthesizers and restrained swells of guitar. Light is a recurring (if indirect) theme throughout Tomorrow, be it the refraction of natural light represented in Hultgren's glistening tones, or the feelings of lightness, gratitude, and acceptance which touch almost every song. It's a powerful work that sounds created by someone clearly in a place of newfound joy and self-discovery, and listening closely one can't help but carry on some of those beautiful feelings themselves.

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