Upstate New York artist Tor Lundvall's music often evokes a sense of soft-focus autumnal melancholia but nowhere is this atmosphere more explicit and evocative than his self-released 2006 holiday album, Yule, newly reissued by Dais Records.
Inspired by childhood memories of "cold, dark evenings" waiting for his mother outside shops and supermarkets while seasonal songs drifted faintly on the frozen air, the collection feels appropriately hushed and hypnagogic, half-remembered melodies heard through falling snow. Steady muted rhythmic pulses wind through wintry landscapes of icy synthetic textures, glass bells, and distant metallic echoes, occasionally framed by Lundvall's soft, dazed vocals, narrating scenes of "slushy, illuminated train stations" and "the lonely trees of January, still entangled with blue lights long after the season has ended." It's a music of barren branches, crescent moons, and willowy figures shuffling and shivering on their way somewhere, viewed from a fogged window passing by, or high above.
As with Lundvall's signature oil paintings, Yule's sonic vignettes are works of observation, poetic glimpses rendered in gradients of color and quiet. He has referred to his music in the past as "ghost ambient" and, although his songwriting here skews more foreground than background, the phrase aptly captures the haunted, half-light quality of these fragile tracks. 10 miniatures of wreathed streets and silent woods, of twinkling store windows seen from a distance, the sensation of being outside of life looking in - the sentiments that seeded Lundvall's vision remain undimmed: "There was a special melancholic beauty about these moments that has never left me."