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Soundohm

Jon Collin - Bridge Variations

With an already stellar year behind them, having dropped killer releases by Astrid Øster Mortensen, Treasury of Puppies, Blod, and Gothenburg Sound Workshop, Discreet Music is back with another burner, the Stockholm based, English multi-instrumentalist Jon Collin’s “Bridge Variations”. Stepping away from his longstanding relationship to the guitar for the nyckelharpa - a traditional Swedish instrument with keys somewhere between a hurdy-gurdy and a fiddle - its six compositions, recorded under various bridges across Stockholm, represent a profound response to place, intertwining spatial ambience and natural reverberance with a body of music that radically rethinks minimalism through the lens of DIY experimentalism and traditional folk.


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 aggregator and platform for some of the most exciting sounds currently emerging from Sweden. Their latest LP, Jon Collin’s “Bridge Variations”, adds a bit of spice to the mix. Until last year, when they included the artist’s composition, “Dream Sequence, End of Summer”, on their “Contemporary Homemade Music” compilation, Discreet had primarily focused its energies toward the highly localised scene in Gothenburg, but here they even further stretch out, with a record not only made by an artist originally from the UK, but one currently based nearly 500km north in Stockholm, while rating every bit of the spirit that rumbles below all their releases.

Filled with a radical approach to DIY experimentalism, Collin’s long respected mastery comes to the fore - encountering him leaving his well-travelled guitar behind in exchange for a keyed fiddle (and maybe a banjo?) - weaving delicate tapestries of sonority of environmental sound and immersive tones. Like so much of the music through which Collin has made his name, “Bridge Variations” is a brilliant, slow burn, taking time to reveal its mysteries and creative statements. This limited edition LP - including a 12-page full-color booklet of photographs documenting the album’s diverse recording locations - is already sold out at source, so don’t sleep. It seems like that the few we’ve managed to get our hands on will fly, and when they go it’s gone.




Originally from Lancashire in the north of England, Jon Collin first appeared on the scene sometime during the middle 2000s. Noted for his unique approach to guitar - nodding equally toward the non-idiomatic approaches of Derek Bailey, the later, Table of the Elements era work of John Fahey, and a myriad of traditional folk musics - that collectively achieved a fascinating intermingling of minimalism, experimental improvisation, noise, and folk, that draws on his own system of body, mind, breath, strings and electricity. Around five or six years ago, Collin followed the call even further north and left the UK behind for Stockholm, slowly weaving his sonic presence into the city’s scene.



Originally from Lancashire in the north of England, Jon Collin first appeared on the scene sometime during the middle 2000s. Noted for his unique approach to guitar - nodding equally toward the non-idiomatic approaches of Derek Bailey, the later, Table of the Elements era work of John Fahey, and a myriad of traditional folk musics - that collectively achieved a fascinating intermingling of minimalism, experimental improvisation, noise, and folk, that draws on his own system of body, mind, breath, strings and electricity. Around five or six years ago, Collin followed the call even further north and left the UK behind for Stockholm, slowly weaving his sonic presence into the city’s scene.



Predominantly built from sounds generated by Collin on a secondhand, homemade keyed fiddle, call a nyckelharpa - a traditional Swedish instrument with keys somewhere between a hurdy-gurdy and a fiddle - (and occasionally the plucking of what sounds like a banjo), environmental ambience, and natural reverberance of bridges under which each of its works was recorded, "Bridge Variations” is a stunning take on minimalism and durational tone, peppered with elements of free improvisation and chamber music, that effortless binds each of those idioms to a continuum of music making that traces back over the centuries. Saturated with the immediacy and artefacts of DIY recording that make it so remarkable and enduring, slow moving, elongated, and deconstructed melodies evolve into immense drones, layering and bouncing within the texture of environmental sound. Fitting comfortably into neither the notions of song or formal composition, Collin has hit on something truly special across the six pieces that comprise the LP; hypnotic, immersive, and abstract, while pregnant with a deep sense of consideration, focus, and immediacy, it seems everything he touches - even without his trusty guitar in tow - comes out as gold.



Deeply emotive and personal - appearing like a warm cry into the collective consciousness, unwinding the isolation felt by all over the past couple of years - Jon Collin’s “Bridge Variations” is a thing of beauty and rare artistry. Taking the territories explored by early 2010’s / effigy era Pelt and pushing them further toward the unknown, it’s hard to think of a better way to expand our vision of the incredible things playing out in Sweden these days.