Some folks might wonder why the hell we bother with ambient/electronic music on a site that caters to metalheads. I’ve reviewed three ambient projects since signing aboard seven months ago, and the total number of people that have read those reviews is paltry in comparison to the numbers that normally visit the metal reviews. So, if a tree falls in the woods, and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? If an ambient record gets reviewed on a metal website, and very few read it, does anyone care? I hope so. Ambient music can be a very rewarding musical form, and I often find myself using it to help relax or as a palate cleanser between metal albums. It’s not something I find myself listening to all the time, but it definitely fills a musical void previously left open before I discovered amazing ambient works from artists such as Brian Eno (a master at creating lush ambient soundscapes that soak your brain into a quiet, reflective inclination). Ambient artists, much like funeral doom artists, must be very in tune with the emotion and atmosphere they’re trying to convey, because often times the sounds chosen are quite sparse, and misplacement or misuse could ruin the listeners’ experience and send them packing very quickly.
Tor Lundvall’s Empty City is the latest ambient tree to be felled by my reviewing axe, and once again, while it’s not something I see myself spinning more than say Eno’s Discreet Music, it’s definitely a record I’ve found myself enjoying quite a few times over the past few weeks. Lundvall, a New Yorker who spends most of his time expressing his art through a visual medium (oil on canvas), created Empty City as a musical interpretation of a series of paintings that depict a major metropolitan city and its interaction with nature. More specifically, the album is intended to represent the many different personalities a Northeastern city can hold during different stages of the day. Songs such as “Buildings and Rain”, “Early Hours”, “Night Work”, “2:00 am”, and “Wires” all do the job perfectly by sonically conjuring exactly what the song titles would suggest. The record on the whole is relatively dark, and because of the theme chosen by Lundvall, it holds more of an urban feel as compared to a lot of the dark ambient material I’ve seen come across in the queue here at MetalReview.com. I don’t mean to make it sound as if it's a new Nas record or something, it just does a great job of creating a New York-esque cityscape in the listeners’ mind as the album unfolds, so in that regard, Tor Lundvall has done a superb job. In short, Empty City paints a walk through New York beautifully.
For those of you hoping to hear some new dark ambient material along the lines of Northaunt or Oöphoi, or if your interests lie more along black ambient music, you may not find Empty City to be to your liking, but if you enjoy any of the seminal works from Fripp/Eno, or if you find yourself pining for a quick trip to New York, this might be just the right ticket.