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Arv & Miljö - Vålnad av Fornskog

In a final dash before the end of 2022, Discreet Music delivers an absolute stunner with Arv & Miljö’s “Vålnad av Fornskog”, the final instalment in the project’s conceptual cycle of albums dedicated to the four seasons. Beginning in the final days of summer, across the album’s two sides Arv & Miljö constructs a visionary and deeply emotive rethinking of ambient music, tapping deep into memory and nostalgia via the sounds of heavily processed acoustic instrumentation, synths, field recordings, electronics, ending the incredible series with the sun high in the sky.

While only a couple of years old - emerging both as a free standing label, as well as an umbrella for Fördämning Arkiv, Förlag För Fri Musik, I Dischi del Barone - the Gothenburg based imprint, Discreet Music, has rapidly become regarded as a aggregator and platform for some of the most exciting sounds currently emerging from Sweden, issuing stunning LP by Klas Trollius, Blod, Astrid Øster Mortensen, Enhet För Fri Musik, and numerous others. Roughly a year ago, we wrote lovingly about Arv & Miljö’s “Ensam Är Nattens Rymd Över Vita Vägar”. Now thankfully the project is back with more, with “Vålnad av Fornskog”, its latest outing with the imprint, and the final instalment in the seasonal ambient tetralogy that began with “Svensk Sommar I Stilla Frid” (Omlott Records, 2018), followed by “Himmelsvind” (Discreet Music, 2020), and then “Ensam Är Nattens Rymd Över Vita Vägar”.

Bringing us back to the senses of late summer, weaving its own immersive, thematically driven world from a pallet of acoustic instrumentation, synthesisers, field recordings, electronics, and processing, that culminates as a sublime gesture of abstract ambience and texture of startling scope. Issued in a limited vinyl edition of 500 copies, housed in a gloss laminated sleeve with a double-sided insert, like each of the series’ predecessors, it represents heights of focused creativity, imbued with all the radical irreverence that we’ve come to love and expect from the Gothenburg scene.

Arv & Miljö is the moniker of the Gothenburg based artist, Matthias Andersson, who is also a member of the noteworthy ensembles Enhet För Fri Musik and Heinz Hopf. With a growing body of releases behind him, in 2018 Arv & Miljö began a new project, conceiving four albums of lo-fi ambience that bridge the gaps between the historic electronic excursions of Swedish New Age music, DIY noise, and experimental electroacoustic practice. Approached with an anything goes attitude, the first, “Svensk Sommar I Stilla Frid”, drew us into the long days of Swedish summer, painting images, via shimmering harmonies, of sleepless nights, foggy July fields, and sun sets, while the second, “Himmelsvind”, deployed flirtations with kosmische music, extensive field recordings, samples, and tape loops, to weave bubbling images of the early blooms of Spring. Then came the aforementioned “Ensam Är Nattens Rymd Över Vita Vägar”, which drews us into the heart of the wintery months, drawing upon childhood memories of long, cold winters and walks through slushy Gothenburg streets. The final instalment of the series, “Vålnad av Fornskog”, concludes on an absolutely stunning high.

Heavily inspired by the autumn Swedish countryside that Matthias Andersson knew during his childhood in the 1980s, “Vålnad av Fornskog”, begins its loose narrative arc at the tail end of summer. Drawing upon fragmented memories of rain on a tin roof, empty playgrounds, and windy days walking home in the dark, are offered a new life in expanses of sonority at the edges of abstraction and imagism, dissolving melodic synth primitivism and crude tape techniques into a broader pallet of heavily processed field recordings. Becoming a deeply conceptual, almost brutalist form of new age, latent folk sensibilities and droning organs and synths meld with a boundary pushing vision of experimentalism, maxing fidelity to the breaking point, and infusing vast washes of texture with a profound depth of emotion. Flowing seamlessly across the album’s two sides, five discreet works evolve and flow, diving deep into cocoons of memory, nostalgia, and dreamlike spaces that rest like shadows, just out of view.

An absolutely stunning effort in contemporary electronic experimentalism, and arguably some of the most sophisticated and unique work we’ve heard come out of Gothenburg to date, “Vålnad av Fornskog” is a truly visionary piece of work, leaving us hanging on baited breath for what Arv & Miljö has up its sleeve yet. Definitely a ten out of ten and not to be missed, issued by Discreet Music in a highly limited vinyl edition of 500 copies, housed in a gloss laminated sleeve with a double-sided insert, once the word gets out on this one is going to fly out the door.