Marcus Fjellstrom Exercises in Estrangement

Swedish composer Marcus Fjellstrom's debut release yields plenty of surprises. One thing that is not surprising is its sombre mood; the Swedes are well known for their love of the darker side of things — perhaps it's their proximity to the Arctic Circle. Right from the get-go, comparisons to John Cage may be prevalent, especially on the drone-like "Planchette." Over the following 40-plus minutes, Marcus delights the listener with some of the richest variations of composed music. Everything is presented — from noisy collages and percussion-heavy experiments to ominous musique concrete elements and ambient-like pieces. There’s a painfully slow scraping of a cello here, the alien sound of percussion over there and the sound of tortured harp in other places — nothing is foreign to this guy. What grabs me the most on this record is though the pieces vary so damn much, musically speaking, they're still all quite accessible. Exercises in Estrangement turns out to be a welcome surprise from the land that gave us safe cars and cheap furniture. (Lampse)