Swedish musician Daniel Westerlund carefully strides his own zone between post rock and folk. These days operating as E-Gone but back then as The Goner, both outfits are ostensibly solo projects. A man keen on experimentation, this 2009 album saw him focus on his song writing skills.
The album sleeve is bedecked in Olde English font and tells you everything you need to know about the music contained within Behold A New Traveller. A whole myriad of medieval and fantasy imagery is cast. Imagine Lord Of The Rings with more flair and less Enya.
‘Colossal and Risen’ starts with subliminal bass and the tinkling sleigh bells of passing horses. The guitar chimes in and the first soulful strains of Westerlund’s voice, And then the secret weapon: the underpinning of organs and keyboards that give his work their characteristic medieval vibe, though these are nowhere near as prominent as on the BItemarks EP. Flat, dry drums completed the picture. All these ingredients are woven together into a cauldron. ‘Within The Hour’ continues with a bewitching banjo riff with sleepy vocals in the background. The title track glistens like a cave of diamonds before sending you reeling as it’s slowly ascending intensity takes you higher, opening the question of whether the traveller referred to is in fact the listener. ‘I Travelled Far Away From You’ takes a riff that most indie bands would kill for but Westerlund is with the man with the skills to actually draw the heart and soul from the song as if drawing the demons from the possessed. ‘Heaven Send Your Love’ has a campfire sing along, combining drinking song, battle cry and woozy lullaby. You can practically hear the crackling of the fire. ‘En Route’ throbs with an underground machinery clanging that comes as a surprise, then fuzzy bass and danceable 4/4 drums join in. So a different note to end the album and feels like an airlock depressurising you from the days of yore atmosphere the listener has now got settled into.
On the flip side ‘Strong Interaction’ suffers from a lack of vocals and didn’t really do much to warrant its 7 minute running length. That is the one minor complaint to raise.
There isn’t a great amount of variety in the album but this isn’t so important when the music concentrates on placing the listener in a specific place in their mind’s eye. Westerlund has his guitar and is painting a world for you to step right into.
The captivating nature of the music is that this may be folk-ish, but it’s not a dose of henna & real ale frippery, Westerlund’s is bold, dramatic and stylish. His vocals are soulful, cracked and intimate. Beautiful, inspiring music that makes you want to wrap your fur cloak around you, grab your battle-axe and head into the mists…
SEE ALSO: Bitemarks EP reviewed here