Calder is the project of Icelanders Lįrus Siguršsson and Ólafur Josephsson. Josephsson is also the driving force behind Stafręnn Hįkon, an act which has been favorably reviewed here on EvilSponge in the past. Siguršsson is known for creating his own instruments, and has released a few records of ambient guitar style music. I suppose that his solo work is in the vein of Yellow6 or Robin Guthrie. At least, that is what i imagine it to be, based on what i hear on this disc.
Siguršsson and Josephsson have an occasional collaborative project that they call Calder. Lower is the second Calder release, the first being way back in 2003. To my mind, the music here does not fall that far from the Stafręnn Hįkon tree, which i suppose is due to Josephsson's influence. The songs are mostly two layers of chiming guitars that play off of each other, with very minimal rhythm, and the occasional other stringed instrument. Siguršsson's habit of making his own instruments really confuses me here. There is something that sounds like a banjo playing in several songs, but is it really a banjo, or is it a custom creation with a similar sound?
I suppose that it doesn't really matter to the listener. Why should i care if that is actually a banjo, or instead a custom instrument that sounds mostly banjo-like? All that matters is that the songs that result are rather lovely. There is a simple beauty to the music here. The tunes are light, just sort of meandering; not too forceful, but still rather enjoyable.
This is especially true of Tuft, a little tune of tinkling keys and arpeggioed guitar. There is a charming little melody picked out on the guitar, as the other instrumentation soars in the background. Also of note is Calc, which features a layer of fuzzed out guitar, a simple bass riff, a scattering of echoed drumming, and some sparse picked guitar.
These are not pop tunes. They do not follow the verse-chorus-verse structure, and yet, despite their odd structure, these songs seem very natural.
I once heard an interview with Robin Guthrie (who is the grandfather of this type of music) and he said that most of his time was spent in tweaking his guitar and effects trying to find a new/fresh/interesting sound, and that once he had the sound, the songs just flowed. And indeed, i find that his music flows effortlessly and naturally. Calder have tapped into that spirit. It is apparent that Siguršsson and Josephsson took their custom instrumentation and tweaked it until they found the "right sound", and then the songs just flowed.
I have been listening to this rather a lot all winter. It's calm and subtle tones work very well in the colder, darker months. In general this is really pretty music. Lower is yet another interesting release from the MMM collective.