Johannes Heldén

Sketchbook

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

Like most of Trent Oiseaux's releases, Sketchbook hovers at the threshold of audibility. Seven untitled pieces like seven stations on a trip from Sweden to Russia via Norway, Johannes Heldén's music is not programmatic -- fact is, you could shuffle the tracks and probably still find a departure and arrival to the new sequence -- but it does include sounds recorded during the journey (airplane engine, airport announcements). They are embedded in delicate electro-acoustic compositions, quiet and peaceful. The music consists mostly of drones; unless you listen very attentively it will often blend in with the sounds of your home, almost disappearing until you remember that it should be there. Track 1 escalates in volume, but it never reaches a level that could be termed "climax," while the other pieces hang on to quietness. Quiet doesn't mean simple and once you manage to adapt your hearing level you can discover beautiful, lush soundscapes. Yet, despite the effort it requires, the music remains rather uninvolving. The enhanced portion of this CD-ROM presents many photographs taken by Heldén during his sound-collecting trip. Artistically blurry, they help to put a face (so to speak; it's landscape photography) on the music.