Arin Aksberg: Nordic Patterns (Digital)

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Product Description

1 A Time Given
2 Leaving Home
3 A Look Back
4 Flowing River
5 The Chapel
6 Skaidi
7 Cut Fjord
8 Homecoming (with Sam Rosenthal)
9 A Time Spent (Anja)

Exposé: "[Nordic Patterns] is a powerful and mysterious work that combines elements of floating ambient and neo-classical into a beautiful and shimmering conceptual whole." -Peter Thelen

Genres: Ambient, New Age, Neo-classical
RIYL: Jon Hopkins, Nils Frahm, Joep Beving, Ólafur Arnalds

Audion: (Arin’s moods…) can range from the mysteriously beautiful to melancholic to the really deep or sonically panoramic.

Twenty-four-year-old Norwegian Arin Aksberg follows upon his 2023 Projekt debut with an album of sparse, sensitive ambience. Utilizing piano, synths & processing, he began with the idea to detach from the intimately personal to craft an abstract soundscape. Nevertheless, life got in the way of such plans: the music organically evolved, deeply influenced by concurrent life events. Nordic Patterns became a vessel carrying the weight and wonder of rediscovering his homeland at the same time as ending a relationship that traversed eight years of his life.

The tracks, charged with the spirit of the environment north of the Arctic Circle, are less about painting a vivid picture of Finnmark and more an invitation to perceive its essence.

“To me it’s mostly nostalgia,” Arin reflects. “The longing for what once was, and the curiosity of what’s to come. It’s the feeling of being present in these lovely surroundings. Working on a project like this, I appreciate the land much more because in everyday life you start to forget how beautiful it is here. Thinking about all the history in these landscapes where the Sami and the Norwegians have lived for centuries — now we’re living here and experiencing the same nature. Again back to nostalgia. I moved from Finnmark to the south at age 9. My ex-wife and I started dating at age 16 and 17; we’ve become adults together. In 2018 we moved back north to Alta and I got to re-experience the environment with her. In a way it’s honoring our memories here. Somehow it’s just a way for me to have a sort of closure on all of that.”

Nordic Patterns isn’t really about showing you what my environment looks like. It’s more about sharing my view, memories and perception on traveling in these lands. Remembering childhood road trips — the world unfolding in stillness from the backseat watching all these structures going by while also traversing the emotional journeys that accompany adulthood and change. Like experiencing beauty and sadness at the same time; how does that make me feel?”

Tracks such as “Skaidi” capture the duality of life’s tempests and tranquilities, where the sounds of a rumbling waterfall next to a storm barrier become a metaphor for life’s unpredictable journey. In the last few years, Arin found both a new beginning and closure, experiences that manifest in the album’s bookending tracks — a tribute to this significant chapter in life.

Projekt founder (and Black Tape For A Blue Girl synthesist) Sam Rosenthal guests on the track “Homecoming.” Arin comments that Sam’s synths “add a warm, human touch to the song with a bit of unpredictability, which we all experience somewhere in life.”

“This album is an intuitive exploration,” Arin reflects, “one that does not seek definitive meaning but instead creates a space where meaning is both discovered and lost in the act of experience. I allowed instinct and introspective emotion to guide the composition.”

Nordic Patterns captures the character of its Nordic roots while journeying through the vast landscapes of human emotion.

Dave Aftandilian: His closely observed compositions powerfully capture the fleeting beauty of a precise moment, showing how important it is that we pay attention to the world with wide-eyed wonder so that we do not miss the uniqueness of each sparkling fractal snowflake before it melts, or the hushed brilliance of the sun-diamonds on the wave-tips before their shimmering fades into darkness.

Exposé: Introspective minimalist piano shares a space with reflective ambient pieces, often together, with hints of experimentalism and dreamlike surrealism.

Projekt release: January 19 2024

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  1. Reviews Editor

    From The Vinyl Hole
    Joint review for It Flows Between Us and Nordic Patterns:

    I’m always excited when a new artist crosses my listening path, I dive in much more with a fresh talent than recall the established, inspirational acts that are often tagged in. Several familiar names, Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm and Jon Hopkins have all been associated with 24-year-old Norwegian composer, music producer and multi-instrumentalist Arin Aksberg, in the wake of releasing 2 stunning albums inside 10 months of each other on Projekt Records, who in their own right have been a leading light in ethereal, neo-classical, gothic, and ambient music for more than 30 years.

    In March of last year, Arin debuted It Flows Between Us, a breath-taking and beautifully balanced collection. From the opening song ‘Virtuality’, the scene is set for the whole album, with a stirring range piano movement, which are also used as the only rhythmic elements present, along with ethereal ambient textures and pin sharp strings that glide in and out.

    The haunting allure of ‘Airportwaiting’ sums up its title, a monotony of doing nothing as time and people pass by. A constantly evolving hive is only drowned out by the sound of internal clocks ticking out at different rates. ‘At Breakneck Speed’ meanders with lush ambience and a wash of strings that bookend the keys that are off in distance. But the upfront void is filled out with bass, when it hits, it hits down low!

    The next piece is ‘12’, it’s somewhat of a palate cleanser. A minimal, rhythmic solo piece of prepared piano which thinly builds layer upon layer. The title track ‘It Flows Between Us’ is another departure. An electronic tingler, very much in the sound of early Berlin School. As is ‘Never Without Your Presence’, an emotive builder, that starts raw and sparse, gradually gaining brightness and body.

    ‘In Memory’ is another beautiful little track, with piano and strings that dance together. There’s an organic, impromptu nature here that becomes obvious as the recording ends with an abrupt stop. The dark cacophony of orchestral sounds on ‘Reflections On Virtuality’ creates a walling wall of sound without a lead or single focal point. Although it shares a name with the album opener, it is a vastly different image.

    The 11-minute ‘Never Ending Journey’ is my favourite track of the album. It combines many elements that as a coastal dweller myself, I can pick out. The incessant chattering of gulls, the sounds of the sea, I can feel and hear the chill of the relentless North wind in the chaotic pipes. Whether it’s actual samples or clever use of instrumentation, this one feels like home.

    ‘Elevate’ closes the album with the hammering of keys in abandonment, teetering on the edge of a Post Rock crescendo. All I must add is that ‘It Flows Between Us’ was the best album I heard over 2023, it took the remainder of the year to decide that it was deserving of this personal accolade. Then within a few weeks of 2024 Arin’s new album dropped.

    ‘A Time Given’ opens Nordic Patterns and continues his hallmark piano playing, but straight away the use of a throbbing synth and actual percussion, highlights both the familiarities and differences of these two releases. There’s also a more disjointed and experimental feel, like in ‘Leaving Home’ that washes across this soundscape, and fades out into the distance.

    The energetic introduction to ‘A Look Back’ has me reminiscing about those euphoric 90s & 00s breakdowns. But the eager anticipation for the beat to begin has been lost to time. Nowadays, I much prefer the placid, slow moving nature of tracks like ‘Flowing River’. A sparse and cold soundscape, but with a touch of warmth from the human contact towards the end.

    The temperature stays the same as you can envisage on a song entitled ‘The Chapel’ The large expansive sound of an organ reverberates out into the room, encapsulating the vibe. ‘Skaidi’ also has a very wide, open air feel to it, very sparse in parts but never barren, there is life, but it appears as a long-drawn-out period. The next piece ‘Cut Fjord’ carries this on with distant choral voices, emphasising the vastness, while the keys echo back towards you.

    The warmth and joyfulness on my favourite ‘Homecoming (with Sam Rosenthal)’ changes the mood considerably. Aerating stabs of synthesizers fill the panorama like the mesmerising aurora borealis. This comfort is felt on ‘A Time Spent (Anja)’, there’s clearly a personal connection here, a coming together on the last song of Nordic Patterns. With Nordic Patterns dropping while I compiled my review of It Flows Between Us only heightened the process. Listening to albums chronologically has always been an amazing experience, to absorb each individually and hear the progression between each other is something I think is lost to many in today’s playlist-culture. -Derek Howie

  2. Reviews Editor

    From Exposé

    The follow-up to Aksberg’s 2023 debut album It Flows Between Us is a powerful and mysterious work that combines elements of floating ambient and neo-classical into a beautiful and shimmering conceptual whole. Using piano, synthesizers, and plenty of studio processing, Aksberg uses the nine instrumental tracks at hand to convey the story of a major chunk of his life, when at the tender age of nine he moved from Alta, in the far north of Norway, north of the arctic circle, to the southern part of the country, where he remained for many years.

    Nordic Patterns is a story of his journey home, back to the beauty of the far north after many years away, which also corresponds to the ending of an eight-year relationship. Bookended by “A Time Given” and “A Time Spent (Anja)” are titles that document the journey, like “Leaving Home,” “A Look Back” and ”Homecoming” (on which Sam Rosenthal guests), and also titles that convey the panoramic and picturesque beauty of Aksberg’s far northern homeland, titles like “Cut Fjord,” “Flowing River,” “Skaidi,” and “The Chapel.” The colorful and textural sound sculptures bear unique emotions that fill the listener’s imagination with curiosity and wonder, often with sequenced undercurrents and flowing cloudlike drifts of shimmering color and beauty. Each piece is different but all contain the emotion and dreamlike atmospherics that float in and out of the psyche as each piece proceeds. This isn’t what would be considered sleepy music, Aksberg has far too much going on both structurally and in the contours of the sound to be taken as pure floating ambient music, instead opening doors into a neo-impressionist soundworld. -Peter Thelen

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