On Kolväteserenader, Patrik Torsson reveals himself to be a storyteller -- a Swedish storyteller -- so most listeners will not be able to understand his reminiscences of the sea. After spending half of his time as first mate on an oil ship for five years, Torsson retired to focus on this album. It would be easy to interpret the sounds and textures in maritime terms, but the main theme of the album seems to be memory more so than the sea. The melodies are presented as if they were half remembered, digital grain corrupting their forms in a way that strongly recalls Fennesz's Endless Summer. Luckily, Torsson gives his music a more personal touch by granting more room to "real" instruments: guitars, piano, keyboards, programmed drums, and even a touch of accordion in "Lotsenbrüderschaft Elbe." The pieces alternate between rough backgrounds for Torsson's storytelling voice, and smooth electronic pieces with a certain naive look and glitch dress-up. The results are pleasing and gracious, and the album unfolds like a single continuous work, each segueing track contributing to defining the personality of the music. And yet, in the end, this personality is too similar to numerous other experimenters of the melodic and the textural, from Komet to Fennesz, to Tape and the U.S. post-folk laptop wielders. As a listening experience, Kolväteserenader is a success, immersing the listener in its own reality, but as an artistic statement, it simply doesn't make an impact.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture