Floating somewhere between the club ambiences of today and the driving Techno of the nineties that bares comparison to Biosphere and Autechre, arrives Pär Grindvik’s debut album Isle of Real and the debut long player for his Stockholm Ltd label. For those familiar with Grindvik’s densely orchestrated style of unforgiving, remorseless Techno like Wyatt Arp, Isle of Real might just be the inevitable result of a long career that’s seen him impart his creativity on Drumcode and share the production chair with Adam Beyer and Hardcell amongst others. The theme of the debut album is grounded in nature’s reclamation of spaces abandoned by humanity, but these abstract origins aren’t necessarily felt through the album, except perhaps in the isolated moment a synthesised bubbling brook scuttles through the final moments of Isle of Real’s outro, Changes. No, any reference to the theme is for the most part lost in the energetic percussive pulse of a kick drum or the sinister ambiences of murky contrapuntal textures. The theme is but a distant origin from which this music has been removed, but what remains is definitely a feel for Grindvik’s working methods on Isle of Real. Grindvik made the album on planes, trains and automobiles, accommodating the nomadic lifestyle of an international DJ, and it’s almost as though you can hear the artist moving through various spaces and emotive atmospheres through the ten-track album. An image pulls into focus of Grindvik going from stodgy hotel room to his next destination in a blur that gets held in time for the duration of a track intent on capturing the different moods of music in transit.
There’s a variable push pull on he album that starts with the disquieting ambience of Never Give In before plunging headlong into the type of high-energy – splitting at the seems with texture – Techno Grindvik is known for in tracks like Headland and The Marlton. These tracks, although functional dance floor workouts are also obvious album tracks. Function often gets passed over for form, with more focus on the evocative pastures of melody and the visceral experience of a fully developed composition. The tracks have a tendency to mature more as if they have their roots in a verse chorus form rather than the through-composed loop structure of your clandestine Techno track. Friend and fellow Swedish producer Peder Mannerfeldt is said to have lent a hand during the creative process during a four-day recording session, and while it’s impossible to directly hear his influence on the tracks, there certainly is something of a ghostly presence in tracks like Shine, with its absence of a percussive beat, and Limits of Real, with its Pantha du Prince-like bell melodies. Their general compositional development tends to hint an outside influence affecting the progression of the songs. Yes, these are more songs than they are tracks and it makes for a very cohesive Techno album (a thing of beauty in itself) without losing touch with Pär Grindvik’s signature sound. Pär Grindvik achieves a balanced proportion between Techno’s dance-floor protocol and creating more rounded album experience for the person playing this music at home or in the car. In this regard there are some incredibly mesmerising moments like Shine and Tide us Part. So here’s hoping Pär Grindvik don’t make us wait another decade to follow up with a second album.