The ever prolific Dag Rosenqvist returns once again with his fourth full-length album in eighteen months (not to mention EPs and other assorted ephemera). Such a busy release schedule immediately brings to mind the old quantity over quality debate: surely, if someone is releasing this much music, it can’ all be good? Can it?
The thing is, in the case of Rosenqvist, it can and is. Some of his releases are better than others, sure, but unlike Merzbow (for example) nothing in his catalogue feels like the result of a routine hard disc cleanup.
Singing Stones is the sixth Jasper TX album overall, and finds Rosenqvist exploring a similar territory to Black Sleep, released late last year on Miasmah. Though perhaps not as overtly dark as that record, the subtly shifting drones and crackly field recordings of “This Barren Land’ and “Last Boat In’ are much more steeped in shadow than the more post-rock oriented feel of I’ll Be Long Gone Before My Light Reaches You or In A Cool Monsoon. A distant-sounding guitar chimes a subdued melody on the elegiac “They’ve Flown Away and Left Us Here’, and is echoed by solemn glockenspiel. One of the album’ most melodic pieces, it’s also one of its most heartbreaking.
On “A Box of Wood in the Storm’, the damaged insides of a well-worn piano lead into a shimmering drone, airy drone, underpinned by another of Rosenqvist’s trademark melodies. The frail melodica of “Not Leaving, Not Really’ recalls In A Cool Monsoon, while “Sleeping Rivers’ will again invite comparisons to Fennesz and/or Tim Hecker.
It’s the nearly ten-minute “Into the Sea’ that plunges Singing Stones to its deepest depths, however. After four minutes of almost inaudible submarine rumbling, the far-off tinkle of a piano begins to emerge from the gloom. It’s soon joined by melodica and a gently glittering drone, which after another four minutes are again subsumed by the abyss. Returning to the surface, Rosenqvist brings us “Mornings After’, a delicate, sun-dappled piece that seems in many ways the inevitably optimistic response to everything that preceded it.
Adam D Mills