Motionfield

Luftrum is incredibly dreamy and expansive, crowning ten years of releases by this gifted artist. There's a perfect word for his sound: oceanic. With his synthetic paintbox Motionfield has conjured ten pieces of music, ten oceans of psychedelic sound, that bathe you is some of the most profoundly beautiful harmonic progressions and textures ever heard in ambient.

artist:
Motionfield

country of origin:
Sweden

style(s):
Psyambient, ambient techno, landscape, IDM

decades active:
00's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Optical Flow ‎(2008, Somnia)
  • The Sound Of Snow (2010, Passage)
  • Quiet Is the New Loud ‎(2014, Autoload)
  • Luftrum (2015, Carpe Sonum)

Reviewed by Mike G

Unlike the 90’s when it could be harmonic and textually sumptuous, what gets tagged as pure ambient techno in the new century seems to have narrowed to refer to digital glitch music, a style I often find to be a cold, soulless dead-end. The extraordinary Luftrum (2015) by Motionfield (Swedish composer Petter Friberg) is none of those things. Yet I’ll call it ambient techno, in the hope people might realise that rich tonalities and lush otherworldly beauty still have a place in that corner of the dance world.

Luftrum is an incredibly dreamy and expansive album, crowning ten years of releases by this gifted artist. There's a perfect word for his sound: oceanic. With his synthetic paintbox Motionfield has conjured ten pieces of music, ten oceans of psychedelic sound, that bathe you is some of the most profoundly beautiful harmonic progressions and textures ever heard in ambient. Despite the thick sonic haze, it’s not an exercise in extended ambient stasis or wandering abstraction. Each piece sounds defined and carefully arranged. The slow-motion click and breakbeat of “Luftrum 1” echoes the best of Boards Of Canada. “Luftrum 3” has a quasi-pop feel, rolling breezily along on a simple three-chord progression and gentle click pulse. “Luftrum 5” is eerie twilight music with a deep bass notes that snake around long, arcing chords. Dive in and float away - this music is ravishing, deep and unforgettable.

Luftrum's blinding brilliance makes it the brightest star in the Motionfield catalogue, around which all his previous albums can only orbit at a respectful distance. While some of these sound rather too derivative of the clearly influential Boards Of Canada, a number of others are very good and very distinctly Motionfield. They use the same fundamental building blocks they make up his signature sound - especially those huge arcs that hover eternally in the ether - but emotionally and visually they are quite different from Luftrum.

Driven by reverberating electric and acoustic piano figures, the melodies on Optical Flow ‎(2008) make the music feel up close and personal. The album notes confirm it: this is music about love and small earthbound wonders, rather than a mind-blowing flight over a psychedelic sea. The Sound Of Snow (2010) is just that - a vivid, occasionally haunting and fairly romantic evocation of winter landscapes, with glowing textures to keep you warm. Quiet Is The New Loud (2014) is a four-part epic and the only Motionfield album with consistently long pieces. The album gradually reveals its wonders with repeated listens, dreamy and blurry and subdued, occasionally opening up with gorgeous progressions like the awe-inspiring choral loops of the third movement.

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