Kristoffer Gildenlöw – Empty (2024)

Kristoffer Gildenlöw - Empty (2024)
Artist: Kristoffer Gildenlöw
Album: Empty
Genre: Crossover Prog
Label: New Joke Music
Year Of Release: 2024
Quality: FLAC (tracks)

Tracklist:
1. Time to Turn the Page (3:35)
2. End of Their Road (4:37)
3. Harbinger of Sorrow (4:29)
4. He’s Not Me (5:56)
5. Black & White (5:24)
6. Down We Go (7:33)
7. Turn It All Around (3:15)
8. Means to an End (4:04)
9. Beautiful Decay (4:02)
10. The Brittle Man (2:29)
11. Saturated (4:58)
12. Empty (9:53)

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Personnel:
– Kristoffer Gildenlöw / vocals, various instruments

With:
– Dirk Bruinenberg / drums
– Jeroen Molenaar / drums
– Joris Lindner / drums, Hammond organ
– Paul Coenradie / guitar solos
– Marcel Singor / guitar solo
– Patrick Drabe / guitar solo
– Ola Sjönneby / brass
– Ben Mathot / violin
– Anne Bakker / violin, viola
– Maaike Peterse / cello
– Jan Willem Ketelaers / backing vocals
– Erna Auf der Haar / backing vocals

Kristoffer Gildenlöw is becoming a force within progressive rock with his solo releases, I’m convinced. He is getting ready to release his fifth solo effort, this one called Empty, and it somehow feels both familiar and fresh at the same time. The album releases on February 8th.

Kristoffer is a veteran of the scene, from his original gig with his brother in Pain of Salvation, to his work with KAYAK, Damian Wilson, Neal Morse, and Lana Lane, to his solo efforts over the last decade. For this release, the lineup includes Kristoffer on vocals and most instruments, and also guest musicians Dirk Bruinenberg and Jeroen Molenaar on drums, Joris Lindner on drums and Hammond organ, Paul Coenradie, Marcel Singor, and Patrick Drabe on guitar solos, Ola Sjönneby on brass, Ben Mathot on violin, Anne Bakker on violin and viola, Maaike Peterse on cello, and Jan Willem Ketelaers and Erna Auf der Haar on backing vocals.

Notice the three guest musicians who recorded guitar solos? This album is something of a departure from his other works in that it has upbeat sections and driving rock portions, and especially emotional and confident guitar solos. There are many of them, and it is definitely one of the highlights of the record for me. Still, Kristoffer’s dark, emotional, and almost Gothic signature sounds are still here, too, which makes the album all the more interesting because of the sheer contrasts in play. You’ll also notice a certain Pink Floyd influence on this album, which isn’t the norm for Kristoffer’s solo works, so it has to be deliberate.

The album itself was originally supposed to release along side Homebound in 2020, but it was pushed off and delayed past 2021’s Let Me Be a Ghost (which is a terrific album). So, this album hibernated for a few years. The album revolves around various aspects of the human experience and how people tend to focus on the insignificant while ignoring the most important parts of life. It reminds me of Pain of Salvation’s 2004 masterpiece BE in that it examines human beings as the tapestry of colors, darkness, emotions, and wills that they are, and then zooms out to catch a sort of divine, sky-high view of the planet and the strange little people that occupy it. It is both a celebration and a social commentary on the human race; and, well, the emptiness of living for vanity and selfishness.

Empty has twelve tracks, and they are all winners. Personally, I think the second half of the album is the stronger half, but the whole record is great. I really like the opener “Time to Turn the Page”, a song with heavily filtered vocals and a roaring, towering guitar solo. “End of the Road” is a beautiful piece with its stringed accompaniment, slight electronic vibe, and rich vocal harmonies. Another favorite is “He’s Not Me”, a deeply Floydian piece with lots of emotion and a slow burning intensity. I like how “Down We Go” ends the first half with feelings of delving even deeper in the second half, and so it is a dark piece that hovers with melody and another massive guitar solo near the end.

The second half of the album is like an album to itself in some ways. “Turn It All Around” feels like a short introduction, and it is an eccentric piece appropriately. “Means to An End” comes next and is one of my favorites because of the gorgeous strings and amazing solo near the end. Like much of the album, it has such a pleasant gait and satisfying bass groove. Probably my favorite overall is “Saturated”, an addictive track with lots of backing vocals that, in turn, feel answered by a short synth line that is, for some reason, incredibly effective. I love how bouncy and layered the song is—I can’t get enough of it.

The closer is the title track, and it is one of my favorites, too. It is about ten minutes in length, and it is darker and more ambient, especially at first. Much of the track focuses on shadows and Kristoffer’s voice, and I really like that vibe as it feels introspective and ponderous. But then the most glorious solo on the album emerges from those darkened hallways, and the last few minutes are spent reminding us of the color and bright musicianship that have appeared on the record, and the ending becomes a riveting display of progressive rock prowess.

Kristoffer makes music that is starkly authentic. He often finds his voice in the small idiosyncrasies and odd beats that he conjures. His music requires that you pay attention and appreciate the details. It’s all about great composition, meaningful themes, and his own unique stamp on it all. Empty is a wonderful album that should easily bring more fans into the fold.
by The Prog Mind

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