Album Review of
Music For Small Rooms

Written by Robert Silverstein
July 3, 2022 - 4:17pm EDT
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In 2020, Swedish composer and keyboardist Erik Dahl released Gethenian Suite, a gothic laden neoclassical album spotlighting the Erik Dahl Ensemble. In early 2022 Erik Dahl is back with a solo album called Music For Small Rooms. Also featuring members of the Erik Dahl Ensemble, the 10-track Music For Small Rooms is similar to Gethenian Suite, yet in some ways it is somewhat sparser, though it’s equally effective. If anything, Music For Small Rooms is more driven by a modern day instrumental prog-rock ethos, although the music is far away from rock and is more rock in opposition, borrowing from the traditional 1970s and early ‘80s era Swedish progressive music sound pioneered by keyboardist-composers like Stefan Nilsson, the late Björn J:son Lindh and Lars Hollmer.

The all-instrumental nature of Music For Small Rooms lends itself to a wealth of comparisons like the aforementioned Swedish progressives as well as to modern day chamber music, film-noir soundtracks as well as to minimalist music of all stripes, from electronic to neoclassical, albeit in the orbit of the 2020s. To gain such a diversity of sounds, Erik performs on a range of instruments including piano, harmonium, synths, voice, field recordings and guitar. From the Ensemble, Anna Malmström (bass clarinet) and Anna Cochrane (viola) insert various sonic colors as does William Soovik (drums), the latter bringing energy and excitement to the album’s most rock-based cut, the Euro-tinged “Natural Home”. The lead-off track “Postpop” perfectly sets the scene and is another haunting film score of a track.

With its impressive array of instrumental sounds, Music For Small Rooms also benefits from the excellent co-production by Filip Leyman, a producer that has worked with Swedish artist Anna von Hausswolff. With Leyman adding in some tasty accoutrements such as various percussion and modular beats, Music For Small Rooms is somewhat of a collaboration between Erik and co-producer Filip Leyman, who also mixed the album as well. With most song titles listed in English, Music For Small Rooms has a very ethereal ambiance to it, making it an essential spin for the erudite modern music enthusiast.