Glowing trees buried in the snow
The town is silent on the streets below
The town is empty, silence all around
Nothing this day could bring us down
The feeling changes when the day is done
Laughter fading with the winter sun
Lonely lights hang from trees
Darkness falls early now
The city’s tired, pinkish glow
Follows softly through the snow
Tuesday’s rain melts the snow
Freezing over on the road
Watching people board the train
Passing blindly through the rain
New York artist Tor Lundvall's music often evokes a sense of soft-focus autumnal melancholia but nowhere is this atmosphere more explicit and evocative than his self-released 2006 holiday album, Yule, newly reissued by Dais Records. Inspired by childhood memories of “cold, dark evenings” waiting for his mother outside shops and supermarkets while seasonal songs drifted faintly on the frozen air, the collection feels appropriately hushed and hypnagogic, half-remembered melodies heard through falling snow.
Steady muted rhythmic pulses wind through wintry landscapes of icy synthetic textures, glass bells, and distant metallic echoes, occasionally framed by Lundvall's soft, dazed vocals, narrating scenes of “slushy, illuminated train stations” and “the lonely trees of January, still entangled with blue lights long after the season has ended.” It's a music of barren branches, crescent moons, and willowy figures shuffling and shivering on their way somewhere, viewed from a fogged window passing by, or high above.
As with Lundvall's signature oil paintings, Yule's sonic vignettes are works of observation, poetic glimpses rendered in gradients of color and quiet. He has referred to his music in the past as “ghost ambient” and, although his songwriting here skews more foreground than background, the phrase aptly captures the haunted, half-light quality of these fragile tracks. 10 miniatures of wreathed streets and silent woods, of twinkling store windows seen from a distance, the sensation of being outside of life looking in – the sentiments that seeded Lundvall's vision remain undimmed: “There was a special melancholic beauty about these moments that has never left me.”
Originally released as a limited CD edition of 333 hand-numbered copies on Strange Fortune in 2006 (SF4). Reissed to vinyl in 2020 by Dais Records (DAIS159).
I find that the time period following Thanksgiving through early January carries a unique mood to it other than the hustle and bustle of Holiday madness. I remember those cold, dark evenings from my childhood, waiting for hours in the car while my mother was shopping. I'd listen to the songs of the Season drifting and echoing faintly through the parking lots of department stores and supermarkets. The blurred, distant music was far more appealing than Christmas Carols shouted at close range. There was a special, melancholic beauty about these moments that has never left me.
With a handful of recordings, I've attempted to capture another side of the Holiday Season. The settings range from slushy, illuminated train stations, to the lonely trees of January, still entangled with blue lights long after the Season has ended.
As a bonus, this EP also includes the full length version of 'The Falling Snow' which was previously only available in a much shorter, remixed form on the Cynfeirdd compilation "Eisteddfod".
November 11th, 2006
(Amended March 2018)
released June 10, 2006
Recorded between November and December 2004 except "The Falling Snow" recorded on the night of January 24th, 1998.
One of my favorite collaborations of all time. I discovered Emma Ruth Rundle in playlists of Gothic Americana and Thou I knew through collaborations with the Body. The Sacred Bones Label continues to impress me with their catalogue. Alexander Brill
I think the album is even better than Souvlaki. Individual parts aren't complex but the songs are cleverly structured and perfectly tailored to the band's strengths. The parts combine, creating an other-worldly ethereal wall-of-sound that's energised by driving, melodic bass and surges of guitar. The voices are human, honest-sounding, not like rock-gods that jarr. Harmonies are beautifully placed and weighted to create a sense of euphoria. tideracer