Agnes Obel- Aventine
Your moody autumn soundtrack, by Agnes Obel. Originally reviewed for Pop ‘stache.
Agnes Obel is an award-winning Danish musician who blends classical piano and strings with traditional folk wanderings. Her sound is simplistically theatrical, warm and inspirationally woven for curious and contemplative ears. Born in Copenhagen to parents who collect antique instruments, Obel now resides in Berlin, a bustling necessity for the freedom in composition she seeks. Heavily influenced by free-form Swedish jazz pianist Jan Johansson and French composer Erik Satie, her compositional reverie bears the fruit of her muses in a generously symbiotic world.
Aventine, Obel’s second album as a solo musician, features her as vocalist and pianist with a single cellist accompaniment (Timber Timbre’s Mika Posen). The album has yet to reach large-scale release in America; Obel’s acclaim mostly originates from Europe and the UK. This is hardly an issue in a music streaming world, however; first listens and highly deserved shares are moments away from US indie-web permeation.
“Chord Left” opens Aventine in a delicate cinematic landscape, seedless and carved out for adventurous and introspective souls. Simplistic, minor toned keys roll up and down a high key scale, matching in equal parts Patrick Watson’s curiosity and Thomas Newman’s heartache. Andrew Bird-like flute cries and plucked string oscillations form Aventine’s fifth track, “Run Cried The Crawling.” Obel’s gentle, hollow voice is heavily illuminated by its bare orchestral backdrop. Much is the case on the entire album; Obel was able to amplify a few singular sounds into something that sounds thematically big, due to extremely close microphone placements during recording and a provocative union of piano and vocal melodies, guided wholly by conscious expressions of Obel’s soul.
Tones on Aventine are generally somber, but possess an undeniable feeling of enchantment. “Tokka” is an inspirational piano piece that sounds like a scene from Meet Joe Black or A Beautiful Mind, skillfully carrying with it complex feeling and thoughtful musings. The album’s first single, “The Curse,” is an easy introduction to Obel’s enigmatic core, in which the theme of lives and seasons changing is intrinsically drawn.
“Words Are Dead” and “Smoke & Mirrors” embody the entrancing nature of the entire album, one that is paradoxically sad and uplifting, defeated by something bigger but flourishing with integrity and hope. Soaring strings and minor melodies define a feeling on Aventine that nudges our appreciation of beautiful, autumnal, orchestral folk.
Obel composes the warmth that we crave once the leaves start to change. Aventine effortlessly offers drive and comfort, and we should aspire to holistic listening whenever these fundamentals are elsewhere insipid or neutral to the nerves.