Somnambule - Writing About Music

Hans Appelqvist ~ Tonefilm

The idea of film-less soundtrack is not new, but much of the music described as filmic is usually riven with cliché, particularly the use of noir garnishing (think Rhodes chords, snips of wah guitar, etc). This cd is something different and has an honesty and openness that’s really attractive and engaging.

The music is bookended by the sound of a film projector accompanied by an acoustic piano playing a mournful melody. Parallels can be drawn between the dj’s turntable and the reels of a film projector:

Closest reference point for me would be DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, both works share a hiphop rhythmic focus and a sense of pathos which in the case of Tonefilm borders quite beautifully at times on melancholy. Appelqvist is unafraid to use more innocent, less ‘cool’ sounds. Another association conjured is Fourtet’s most recent release (Pause) perhaps because of the prominence of acoustic instruments: guitar, piano, harp, voices. The use of these different voices brings much variety and sincerity to the music. I should point out that from the info on the cd cover the language spoken is Swedish. The voices sound as though they’re taken from films, though the cover states “all text read by Gusta Nydahl, Ingegerd Pettersson” – whatever the fact, the impressions remains of dramatic assemblages.

There’s a passage towards the end of this cd where voices speak in bursts of syllables, echoed once and supported by an acoustic guitar and partial piano. The voices might be backwards, there are a number of them, there’s a halting sadness to them - it’s very affecting and reminded me of oriental haiku-like music: I’m sure there are much more appropriate comparisons, but the nearest I can get is the spoken word section in John Zorn’s Forbidden Fruit (the last piece on Spillane).

The experience is of watching a foreign film where the subtitles have failed to appear, you’re left to spy meaning and feeling in the inflections of the actors’ voices, in the contexts of each scene, the structure and the cuts. I don’t know whether fluency in Swedish would add or detract from the experience of the album, I can say there’s no frustration in not understanding what is being said.
Highly recommended.

Colin Buttimer
July 2002
Published by the BBC