Jakob Olausson follows up his acclaimed album Moonlight Farm with another entrancing record. Its hypnotic quality comes partly from song structures which seem looser than they actually are, and from the stark contrast between emotionally raw lyrics, some sparkling guitar notes, and his doubled or heavily echoed voice.
Morning & Sunrise doesn‚Äôt appear to start at the beginning as much as drop into something that is already in motion. I like the strange sense, as "Don‚Äôt Drown In Sorrows" bursts in, almost of leaping onto a slow-moving boxcar in the middle of a long train journey. Much of Moonlight Farm lived up to its title by appearing to transmit cosmic vibrations from a field of beet in the middle of a cold night. This new release has a hazy warmer feel to it and, perhaps since Olausson has toured the US, to some extent it‚Äôs as if he is flirting with influences on this side of the Atlantic. "Ride On The Wind" for example has a trace of the ghost of Montezuma about it (echoing a little of Neil Young‚Äôs "Cortez The Killer"). Other sections of these eight songs could be snapshots from rides through the Delta or approaches to the outskirts of a folk-psychedelic version of Northern California, except that Olausson is not like a tourist trying on silly hats and references are never that blatant. Instead, all is subsumed beneath his almost gamelan-like mode of expression.
In that expression, his voice is echoing, swaying, resting, and playing catch-up, his guitar notes are aching with loneliness, and the bleak percussion is either ticking like a clock of mortality or disappearing completely. If that sounds heavy or messy and dense, well, there are moments of anguish but many of ecstatic howling coalescence. And there is also plenty of open space. It‚Äôs as if a train goes through a tunnel causing the music to sound darker and more intense, but it comes out the other side and in sweeps air and light.
Olausson's lyrical concerns are to do with surviving emotional fevers and freezes, getting through to the other side of the inevitable winters of life. He literally howled like a choir of wolves on one track from Moonlight Farm and his superb whistling here on "When Your Bridges Burned" adds another simple yet very effective flourish. Just as the late Joe Meek struggled and fumbled his sonic visions into being, so Jakob Olausson wrestles to create with whatever is to hand. Oddly, though, as much as I will be pleased to hear his next record I would be fascinated to hear his songs performed by other artists.