Boomkat Product Review:
Following 2022’s mind-boggling debut 'Kingdom of Bells', Egil Kalman steps further into a land of possibility, drawing on Medieval folk musics and ancient tuning techniques to suggest fresh pastures for modular synthesis. Rhythmic and hallucinogenic, it's a highly immersive listening experience tipped if you're into Emeralds, early 0PN, Lau Nau's ace '5 x 4', John McGuire, Popol Vuh, Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Egil Kalman has levelled up on this one; we were stunned by his last solo opus, and on 'Forest of Tines', the bassist/synthesist has traded the EMS Synthi 100 for the Buchla Series 200, recording at Stockholm's illustrious Elektronmusikstudion (EMS). Here, he builds on themes he explored on his debut with a generous 20 track double album that marks firmer lines between Scandinavian folk music and contemporary electro-acoustic minimalism.
Using woody, synthesised tones that gradually open into sawing wails, Kalman suggests harmonies that lie between the 17th century polska and earlier, pre-Renaissance sounds, mimicking the tonal and textural fluctuations of strings with advanced tuning and sequencing techniques. There are plenty of artists delving into the past to unravel their identity, but Kalman's approach is refreshingly unadulterated. He recorded the entire set on the fly, using just spring reverb to add extra texture, without overdubs or modern DAW-style layering, the Buchla 200 played almost like an acoustic instrument.
There's a glimmer of vintage acid on the lithe 'Dub One', a complex, rhythmic experiment that lashes its pulses together with willowy portamento slides. And on 'Klystron', he absorbs warehouse techno's architectural oomph, splaying psychedelic, reverberating ascending sequences over jagged kicks; listen carefully, and there's something else going on in the background too, as Kalman meets his stabs with flute-like echoes. It's a peculiar cocktail of ideas and provocations: 'Mbira' finds the composer shaping his synth into dusty, fluttering hits that resemble the titular Zimbabwean finger harp, and on 'Drums', he pipes pre-recorded percussion through the system, triggering its oscillators and helping shape its rhythmic patterns. He's most comfortable when he's mines a hazier past, ‘Autumn Leaves' is a mystickal, just intoned droner that harmonises with Mattias Petersson's awesome 'Triangular Progressions', and 'Subtines' sounds as if Kalman has deployed his instrument in a subterranean crevice, resonating his rumbles around synthetic water droplets.
If it's uncanny court music you're particularly interested in, there's plenty of that too. 'Polska' is another sublimely hauntological Swedish folk interpolation, while closing track 'Ocquet' appears to blur Kalman's ideas more thoroughly, melting folk phrasing and peaceful, uneasy drones to draw us to a neat conclusion. Soft-hearted but animated, it's modern electronic music that isn't afraid of employing vintage techniques to suggest new directions.