Niels Gordon - Land [Lamour - 2020]Serving up sparse, synthy Swedish soundscapes, Niels Gordon offers a lighter, jovial approach to the sonic scenery with his latest, Land. Like a Kraftwerk kid with his eyes on the future, Gordon's songs have a light approach with a bent toward subtle danceability. This sort of retro futurism is dependent on tone as much as structure, and Land really hammers that home.
Opening with the soft and slow "Im Park," one feels like the opening tour of a light video game RPG village come to life. Light and catchy, the first song on Land really brings the listener in and lifts his/her spirits. There is a fun adventure through sound ahead, and Gordon starts that tone off from the get go. Quickening the pace and bringing this digital travelogue up a step, "Inner Grounds" brings out some really classic, evocative sounds. Be they from TV or old film themes, "Inner Ground" really tugs at that nostalgic nerve in the brain before opening up with the synthy strings. Playing almost like something from Space's Magic Fly at points, Gordon continues to allow his album to grow as it needs. Often like a train along the coast with an eye on the city line, Land moves along displaying the wondrous scenery. "Voyage Dans La Nuit" continues the pace and tone from "Inner Ground," and adds a bit more groove. Definitely more akin to space disco than the prior tracks. Gordon is really feeling it and passing that along to the audience. Rising above the tracks, "Helio" adds an airy quality to Land and helps to open the album up. A short and sweet segue into the second half, "Helio" is vital to the album's composition. "Outer Grounds" differs quite a bit from "Inner Grounds," and one definitely feels the outer/inner juxtaposition. Much more external than the prior track, this one is less about what was and more about what will be. Outward moving and expanding, this is evocative in quite a different manner. Bubbling and reflective, "Ohrnacht (am See)" takes the creativeness on the water. Feeling like a river cruise, Gordon graciously shows the listener a different view of his landscape. Heading under the canopy and blocked from most of the light, "Woodlands" gives the listener some time to digest the trip they've been on for the past few tracks. Hearkening back to some medieval-esque notes, "Woodlands" reminds the listener that the forests are old and have many tales to tell. Sailing away, "Tides" is the wistful trip home over a vast, heaving sea. Ups, downs, darks, lights, "Tides" is able to wrap up the tones on Land quite nicely and give yet another glimpse at this synthy landscape, albeit from a distance.
Niels Gordon's Land is a fun, synthy jaunt through evocative soundscapes. Somewhat minimal, Land allows the listener to fill in the gaps with his/her own imagination and see what his/her brain wants to see. Perfect for a sunny afternoon, Gordon's latest is like a nice cordial, soft and sweet, not overpowered, and will leave your primed for more music to followPaul Casey