Øyvind Morken – Lullaby to a never ending sunset

In some divine sonic vision, Øyvind Morken has seen the future. Broken dreams and an empty bank account  is conspicuously on the nose in our current predicament as Europe goes on lockdown, financial markets crash and a pandemic looms ever closer to an epidemic. Recorded some time in midst of 2019, there is absolutely no way that Øyvind Morken could have predicted the situation today, but on the final track of Lullaby to a never ending sunset, he has certainly captured the present mood, and in what is surely a coincidence, he has left us with a sliver of hope in some dreary times.   

A sparkling melody, chiming like a child’s mobile is flotsam on the tide of a detuned synth, sluggishly floating through some muggy ether on the way to the temperate rhythm section. The melody bounces between elastic bass-lines and a half time kick drum as the track comes to terms with its own reality. Broken dreams and an empty bank account finds an unusual serenity in the contrary threat that the title submits. While it would make for an excellent story if Morken somehow predicted the present when he sat down to make the track, the truth is that there’s something more personal at its core. 

Lullaby to a never ending sunset, was created at a time when Øyvind Morken was going through a period of personal reflection as a new father and a DJ who had abandoned a lifelong ambition of a career in music. Through four tracks we find an artist coming to terms with growing older, becoming a father and forging ahead on a path beyond music. Remarkably, he finds peace in personal reflection, as he seems to turn the more optimistic aspects of what an uncertain future might hold. Happy melodies bounce through serene pads and billowous textures as rhythm sections skip at a lethargic pace through the record. 

It is only during the second phase of the title track, that a sense of darkness envelops the record as a growling synthesiser plays through dissonant intervals, turning the mood somber and ominous as the track runs through its final bars. Everything gets claustrophobic with the chipper bitonal arpeggio struggling against the dominating backdrop. It suffocates, before making a brave exit at the end of the song, bringing the album back from the brink of depression and into the happy disposition that carries through the rest of the EP. 

You can’t quite escape the sense of growth that seems to emerge in this record in the context of Morken’s previous EPs for Full Pupp. The record steps away from the insistence of the corporeal, and besides the DJ-acquainted The dead don’t dance, the tracks quite often develop from a view beyond the dance floor. Lullaby to a never ending sunset evolves through distinct phases with melodies and harmonies developing through the duration of the title song, while Broken dreams and an empty bank account is arranged in unique sections that flirt with the idea of a more traditional composition, as exposition, development and recapitulation follow each other. 

The ultimate allure of the EP is Morken’s melodic arrangements, which are beatific earworms that embed themselves deep in the earliest scion of the subconscious. A childlike wonder is emphasised in the thin, bell-like sonorities from which they are born, which Morken re-assures with pads and elongated harmonies that accompany them. At times the coldness of the synthetic textures might counteract the happy optimism of the melodic arrangements, but it only takes a moment to find them again in their icy environment, ruddy-cheeked and brimming with new life.  

It’s a sanguine record, perfect for a time of discontent and we could all take a page from the cheery disposition of Lullaby for a never-ending sunset. Øyvind Morken might not have known the context in which this record would find itself, but in some happy accident he has delivered a record that sets the perfect tone as things only look set to worsen.