Memory Constructions by Jakob Lindhagen (Album Review)

Music and memory have an important connection. Not only does music help us conjure old memories, but it also helps create new ones. "Our memories play such a huge part of our identities, yet they are extremely unreliable," writes Swedish artist Jakob Lindhagen in a text accompanying his new album "Memory Constructions". Lindehagen is a composer who straddles the fine line between Spotify-friendly, consumer-focused piano and more intellectual contemporary classical, mostly veering towards the latter. Driven by sweetly played piano keys and their sidekick of mourning cello, the compositions are coloured with bowed saws, glockenspiel, and various sounds and pulses and offer an emotional and narrative core. 

"Tomorrow" introduces the album's primary toolkit: closely-miked piano and wide, imperialistic cello. The notes are composed so minimally that it represents one of neoclassical's more endearing features: an admiration for and an exploration of the unimpressive. If we can love simple music, we should be able to value simple things. If we value simple things, then even the most benign and throwaway moments can be elevated to significance. 

When the seven-and-a-half-minute "Under Water" is given space to breathe, and the minimal march of the piano and cello fall away to spluttered electronics, there are pockets of environment at once so uncluttered yet ultra-textured that one can be illuminated to memories that had long been forgotten.

Lindhagen forms "Resurfaced" around pizzicato strings and hammered dulcimer, adding delicate electronics and drums to create something thematically different from the rest of the album, something dark, heavily-layered and energetic. It's pretty exciting stuff, even if it is a tad on the soundtracking-a-sci-fi-murder-mystery side, and sticks out of the album like a red boat in a painting of the sea. 

Elsewhere "They Were Never Really There" is marshmallow-soft, "Here, Before" weaves in and out of nothingness, and "Rewritten" is arpeggiated Disney pop that finds its most compelling moments when it cools down and stops to remember the space between the notes.


By accepting that our memories are ultimately unreliable, Lindhagen has been able to reimagine the past as he sees fit, be that through accessible and familiar piano-led music or by experimenting with mood and texture through somewhat unconventional composition and production techniques. "Memory Constructions" takes the best of both worlds to produce a collection of minimal songs that, if given the time, will provide a soundtrack for new memories yet to be made.