Closewatch Music Blog

It’s not every day that sheer force of feeling can be conveyed in a simplistic manner. With Oil, Fredrik Kinbom has achieved just that.

The first thing to note about Oil is that it is a masterclass of minor key magnificence. throughout there is hardly a major note to be found and it has a mournful beauty that goes with it.

As such it is a down-tempo affair – but don’t think that for one second it’s chilled – it isn’t. An undercurrent of emotion is constantly bubbling away underneath, and it is found in every bent note and primal, almost ventricular, percussion.

Opening and eponymous title track Oil effectively sets the atmospheric stall from the start. The guitar playing here is vulnerable and introverted – like it doesn’t want to be heard – but with an inner strength that is found in all introverts, because they want to live and survive. Ought To Be is beautiful, with some of the most gorgeous lyrical imagery you’ll find. The coda to it is a moment that will never fail to send shivers down your spine.

As the album progresses you become engrossed with the emotions; Love and Luck will bring tears to your eyes as Kinbom’s vocals struggle to hide the feelings behind it. The percussion here is beautifully minimal, but the atmosphere it generates is awesome. As the skins of the drums vibrate they fill a void with perfect tone and duration.

Album closer Roots and Rubble features an appearance from Sarah Blasko, whose plaintive vocals add a haunting layer which contributes an ethereal feel.

Once the album has ended you feel a sense of lost and longing; it creates within one a retrospective outlook that will take its time to leave. But this is not a depressing album. It’s beautiful (I think I need to grab that thesaurus of mine out considering the number of times I’ve put that down). That really is the only way to describe Oil.

Renowned For Sound (US/UK/AU)

The beautiful sounds of the ever talented Fredrik Kinbom have graced our ears again with his most recent release Oil. It follows on from EP Quit My Job and his first ever full-length lap sliding album Hedgehogs & Elephants back in 2009. The 37-minute record by the Swedish artist was recorded using only analogue equipment giving it a very earthy, natural tone. This record washes over you; Kinbom who mainly plays the lap steel slide guitar has really established his own sound on Oil.

The album kicks off with title track Oil, a distant drumming before the slow guitar strum breaks in; Kinbom is nowhere to be heard until just before the close of the first minute. This is pertinent in setting the tone and stage for the sombre mood of Oil the record. The most transcending song on the album Ought To just captivates you, Kinbom’s melodic voice echoes to the flow of his musical twang. Without realising this song actually draws you in and takes you to another place. A fantastic track, beautiful in every way. Oil just carries this kind of elusive feel, it isn’t jazz but it has that same penetrating effect. Listening to this record you get an overwhelming emotional sense – now that sounds soppy but unless you take 30 minutes from your day and take a listen you just can’t imagine it.

With a voice like his it’s even more surprising to hear instrumental numbers like Siena and Cotton Curve. Not unlike the previous tracks it plays almost as an interlude, it feels as though Kinbom is giving you a chance to gather your thoughts. Then as you drift towards the end Roots and Rubble provides an eerie, smoky conclusion. From what could be assumed as Sarah Blasko given their recent collaborations, it is a tantalising harmony that wraps you up and leaves you craving more.

Never have you seen a review with so many adjectives! Oil is amazing and Kinbom’s talent is extraordinary. He’s so very unique and pleasant I find it hard to fault this record. Please take the time to have a listen, let it take you away for 30-odd minutes and you’ll come back a lighter self.

[4.5 stars out of 5]

Floorshime Zipper Boots (DE)

One thing we love here at FZB is originality, and originality is what you get in spades from the new Capstan Records release Oil, from Berlin based artist Fredrik Kinbom. Playing lap steel guitar, the tracks have a haunting, mystical vibe, that is enhanced by Kinbom's darkish vocal styling. The ten tracks transcend folk, pop and other genres to define an artist that has found a sound so unique and contemporary, that it belies comparison to stand on its own as a testament of Kinbom's artistic creativity. This is a must have.

The Music (AU)

Oil is a quietly spooky release from Berlin-based, Swedish-born Fredrik Kinbom. His signature sound is the re-imagined lap steel – mellow and atmospheric. The sliding swirls of guitar and occasional melancholy harmonium paint all inky blues and greys. There are fragmented and chilling instrumentals (Siena, Ought To (Reprise), Cotton Curve) and cinematic songs in which the melodies snake and coil around the guitar line (Oil, Ought To, Come Down). Kinbom co-wrote and played on Sarah Blasko’s I Awake and features her eerie wordless vocals on final track, Roots And Rubble. A slow and beautiful record.

[3 stars out of 5]

Lie In The Sound (DE)

Vor ein paar Monaten habe ich erstmals über das Berliner Label Späti Palace geschrieben, dass auf seinen Zusammenstellungen aus allerlei Ländern nach Berlin gepilgerte Musiker präsentiert. Auf der Collection #1 war auch ein schwermütiger, atmosphärisch dichter Track des schwedischen Gitarristen Fredrik Kinbom vertreten. Dieser Tage nun ist sein Album Oil erschienen. Grund genug also in dieses Werk reinzuhören. Kinbom hat nämlich eine Schwäche für die Lap-Steel-Gitarre, die er jedoch aus ihrem gewohnten Umfeld herausreißt. Seine Herangehensweise hat nichts mit Hawaii-Flair oder Country-Aura zu tun. Oil ist ein gedanken- und stimmungsvolles Album, das dahinsinniert und einer entschleunigten Ästhetik frönt. Es etabliert eine sachte Wehmut, die von der Wärme der Lap-Steel-Gitarre mal kontrastiert und dann wieder unterstützt wird. Kinbom versucht sein Singer-Songwritertum zunächst über diesen so speziellen, behutsamen Sound und erst in zweiter Linie über die Textebene zu definieren. Das gelingt ausnehmend gut.

Oil entwickelt eine geradezu mitreißende Langsamkeit, beschert Entrückung. Die Platte lässt jede Note funkeln, sie versteht es, Musik voller Andacht zu zelebrieren. In diese Liedern vermag man zu versinken, im sachten, steten Sog geradezu aufzugehen. Schon der Titeltrack Oil fließt gemächlich dahin. Im Strom der Zeit treiben ewigliche Sehnsüchte vorbei: “All along this ancient trail/ I can see rows and rows/ And rows of men/ Looking for life/ Looking for love“. Kinbom reibt in seinen Lyrics Widersprüche aneinander, das flüchtige Hier und Jetzt trifft auf eine stoische Ewigkeit, Zukünfte begegnen Vergangenheiten. Wo Oil noch in zeitlosen Dimension fühlt, spitzt Ought To die Gegenwart zu (“This is real/ This is now/ Slipping away/ Through my fingers and out of sight/ Vanishing dust“). Man unterstellt ja unaufgeregter Musik gerne einmal kontemplative Vorzüge, hier jedoch werden die verschiedenen Qualitäten von Zeit auf magische Weise greifbar. Doch auch wenn Kinbom nicht singt, schlagen die Empfindungen sanfte Wellen. Das instrumentale Siena transportiert nostalgische Schauer, wenn das Becken gestreichelt wird und die Gitarre in edle Klage verfällt. This Old Machine forscht in die Zukunft: “What joys and what disasters/ Lie between now and ever after?“. Es gibt sich auch im Sound einer unerwartet dumpfen, dystopischen Hoffnungslosigkeit hin. Das abermals instrumentale Cotton Curve verscheucht die kleinen, dunklen Wolken, schweift grüblerisch in eine heimelige Weite hin. Solch schlichte Klarheit wirkt ungemein beseelt, meditiert sich ins Herzen des Hörers. Love And Luck wendet sich der Vergangenheit zu, allerdings keiner unbestimmten. Erinnerungen werden ins Gedächtnis gerufen, erwecken eine schicksalergebene Traurigkeit. In diesem Lied sticht Reduktion und Repetition hervor, Kinboms Songs treten nämlich manchmal auf der Stelle, verharren kurz im Gedanken, versuchen den Moment zu greifen, ehe alles wieder den gewohnten Gang geht, in gleichförmige Bewegung verfällt. Sirenengleich lockt die australische Sängerin Sarah Blasko bei Roots And Rumble, haucht und wispert geheimnisvoll. Es entwickelt sich zum würdigen Abschluss eines reifen, besonnenen Werks, das seine Gitarrenkunst mit Ernsthaftigkeit betreibt und in den Texten ein Gespür für Vergänglichkeit beweist.

Mehr als einmal dachte ich mir beim Erlauschen von Oil, dass solch zurückgenommene Schönheit eigentlich großes Potential für Filmmusik hätte. Wohl speziell für eine Dokumentation mit starker Bildersprache wären Fredrik Kinboms in sich ruhende Fertigkeiten überaus geeignet. Oil funktioniert freilich ohne einen Film vor den Augen, davon kann und soll sich der geneigte Leser unbedingt selbst überzeugen. Es ist eine dieser kleinen, feinen Platten, die ich aus tiefster Überzeugung und mit größtmöglicher Inbrunst empfehlen möchte. Also husch, husch ans Hören!

Mondo Sonoro (ES)

Para que luego digan que los recuentos de lo Mejor del Año no sirven para nada… Husmeando en el balance que del 2014 hace el australiano Ned Collette -por cierto, el 7 de febrero de visita en Madrid junto a Gemma Ray- descubro la música de Fredrik Kinbom, otro británico más emigrado a Berlín cuyo segundo álbum se publica hace unos meses tras un largo silencio de un lustro.

La conexión con el citado Ned Collette y su característica manera de acariciar las palabras se hace evidente desde los primeros compases de un álbum de pop cadencioso y remolón, que de haberse publicado hace quince años posiblemente cayera en el cajón de aquello que se dio en llamar “slowcore”. Otra referencia válida para acercarnos a sus canciones, los asturianos Elle Belga: como ellos la percusión se limita a un esquelético redoble de timbales que apuntala fantasmagóricas melodías de lap steel guitar. Y como sucedió cuando David Lynch reclutó a Chris Isaak para ilustrar sus imagenes, algo irreal surge entre tanta pureza…

[4 stars out of 5]

Lira (SE)

Om Fredrik Kinbom vet jag inte mycket. Att han är svensk boende i Berlin vet jag. Liksom att han är en egensinnig lapsteelgitarrist. Han trakterar också harmonium och piano. Även att han gett ut åtminstone en cd innan denna, Hedgehogs and elephants. Efter en genomlyssning av albumet så vet jag också att han är en duktig låtskrivare och sångare. Ibland har han hjälp av australiensiskan Sarah Blasko med sången. Det är en genomarbetad produktion, ljudbilden är luftig och varje spår har en påtaglig stämning över sig. Det är musik som ger huvudet en chans att skapa bilder, små filmer som rullar igång med varje spår. Och detta är mycket hans lapsteelguras förtjänst. Jag får lite David Sylvian-vibbar. Jag gillar den. Det vet jag.

Steel Guitar Forum (US)

I recently had the privilege to preview Fred Kinbom’s new CD titled “Oil.” For those of you who have been on the forum for some time you know how Fred’s unique, expressive voice on the steel guitar has evolved over time. For those new to his music, be prepared to go on a journey that is different from much of what we hear from other steel guitarists. More than most, Fred integrates the steel guitar into the DNA of his music in such a way that it’s unimaginable without it.

Using his signature G minor tuning, Fred carves out a place for the steel as a defining element of each musical tapestry. As a singer/songwriter, there’s a Nordic, melancholy in most of his songs as stories unfold in a dreamlike manner that seems to emanate from our collective unconscious. For Fred, his acoustic and electric steel guitar parts serve both as a harmonic bed and as an extension of his vocals. A unique aspect of his playing is how unafraid he is to explore slower tempos and to let notes bloom and decay unhurriedly.

Fred is supported by Ulf Svedlund on bass and Fredrik Rundqvist on drums. Sarah Blasko’s wordless vocals on “Roots & Ruble” are astounding. As Santo and Johnny did on their classic version of “Off Shore,” wordless vocals here serve to amplify the vocal quality of the guitar playing and touch on deeper, universal feelings that speak to the deeper recesses of the human heart in a way that’s different from recognizable language. Fred’s music is in the tradition of artist’s whose work sets and sustains a mood throughout a given recording; each new song, emotionally building on the song before. “Oil” is definitely a recording worth hearing from an artist who is growing with each new recording.

Blaskan (SE)

Här har vi ytterligare en ny artist för mitt vidkommande som ger oss en ny spännande skiva att lyssna på. En massa med snygga sånger som smyger sig sakta på med sköna tankar. Jag får för mig att det blir en skiva som kommer krypa in i själen för att rumstera om där, vilket den gör i långa loppet. Fast så skall det vara med bra låtar – den tar plats och får växa sig ännu större i hjärtats utrymme. En av vårens finaste ögonblick

[3 @ out of 5]