Swedish, Copenhagen-based guitar wizard Samuel Hällkvist enjoys embracing his work in exotic, playful mystery. His new only-digital EP with Japanese percussionist Nathio Toyota is no different. Hällkvist only tells that this 2-piece EP «toys with you, playfully, like a child, full of mischief, embracing you then leaving you to gently tumble, too, down into a field of lilies».
Now, you your attention is already attuned to his suggestive hide-and-seek game you need to decipher the rest. The seductive cover should help. It brings to mind the covers of trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, with whom Hällkvist worked on her «La Saboteuse» (Naim, 2017) and was done by the same illustrator, Sophie Bass. The title is a japanese expression that means: the lily of the valley’s farewell (replacing the original title, kenja no ishi, i.e. the philosopher’s stone, just like the Harry Potter book).
The music is far less mysterious but multi-layered and nuanced as of all of Hällkvist. The first piece, «Kenja» (alchemist, in Japanese) features also the mysterious MINDJUGGLER – aka, fellow Swedish Joel Wästberg or sir Was – on primal, ethereal howls and keyboards and has hypnotic-tribal pulse, intensified by the swirling waves of Hallkvist’s array of electric guitars and synthesized guitars. The second, title-piece relies on the strong, tribal vein of the previous piece but expands the sonic vision. This piece offers an imaginary-alchemist journey across colorful, fast-shifting sceneries, still, forces you to succumb to its infectious pulse. Without understanding why, how or exactly when you may find yourself moving, dancing.
Keep moving, Hällkvist and Toyota, and please, bring more of this stuff.
Samuel Hällkvist (g, MIDI prog, arr), Natiho Toyota (perc, elec, arr); MINDJUGGLER (v, keys, hand claps)