Unlike many who find autumn a time for change, it was always a source of comfortable familiarity for me. Its colors were solid and inviting, and its days chilly and endearing. It is my favorite season, the more eloquent transition into the dreary winter, so maybe this is why I am so drawn to Library Tapes’s Höstluft
. Even in the album’s cover art I was touched, the gentle hue of a warm, orange, encompassing glow that shakes and blankets a withering tree and lamppost. With this thought going in, it’s no surprise that on the band’s third release, having become a solo act consisting of David Wenngren, it takes lo-fi shoegazing and lone piano and turns it into repose for loneliness, altering the story but never the mood.
Indeed, in Höstluft
’s case, the album does not vary from its routine melody. It is a classical piano, played with truthful precision that never opts for grandeur but remains beautiful all the same. The real meat of Höstluft
comes from the production engulfing it, a vinyl record transposed into the classical roots, the imperfect marks of the needle scratching and popping scarring the delicate face of Library Tapes’s melodies. The collective grating and grinding of trains in a station breaks the barrier between Library Tapes’ musical longing and the title ‘Distans,’ while ‘Mörker Genom Tomrum’ blindly, quietly seethes in suppressed emotion, hauntingly deconstructed by the prominent zips and crackles of vinyl. The gentle wash of rain on windowpanes sends ‘Noslipós’ into a wet lullaby, nostalgic in its storytelling exterior. The overarching theme, one that makes itself known in every nook and cranny of Höstluft
, is its defining age, a lost recording found neatly packed away in the corner of a basement.
There’s the story within the album then, its timelessness that weaves into Höstluft
, a song record in the loosest of terms. By choosing not to rely on climaxes or varying sections, Höstluft
just segues into itself like it might never end until, of course, the final blip fades away. Certain tracks stand out (the fitfully arranged title track, brought in by birds before cutting away to a tapping keyboard, or the cool and collected ‘Mellan Ljud Och Text’ that cackles like an inevitable breakdown), but most, if not all of Höstluft
relies on its emotion to compensate for its unwavering variety. It works for the right reasons (the thoughtful decision to keep no song longer than at least five minutes makes it so Höstluft
is never a straining listen; its unpolished production gives the album an organic, living, bleeding pulse), and it doesn’t work where it’s most obvious. It is indeed a good record, but it never makes itself anything other than just that. By constraining its sound and isolating emotion, Library Tapes has made a compelling album, if not an arresting one.