?Transports? is a gorgeous album from multi-instrumentalist Tobias Hellkvist. He has recently gained some notoriety in his native Sweden from the popularity of his Iron and Wine/Nick Drake-style cover of ?Step Aside? by the Danish band Efterklang. However, this album demonstrates that Hellkvist truly excels at creating beautifully organic ambient and electronic sounds. It is really a joy to listen to each piece, and the album as a whole, unfold.
On Tobias Hellkvist?s Myspace page, he lists in his credentials that he utilizes computer, effects, various instruments, and field recordings. This everything but the kitchen sink aesthetic really sums up ?Transports.? You can hear everything from human voices to piercing electronic tones. It?s almost as rewarding to try and pick out the various sounds and samples in the music as it is to just sit back and take everything in. Each song begins simply and builds, layer by layer. On the opening track ?Aching,? for instance, organ and keyboard drones overlap and melt into one another as the song progresses. As each sound fades, it seems like it gives birth to the next, lending a sense of continuum.
The songs themselves gel into one another in a similar fashion. On ?Slowly But Surely? the track rises out of what sounds like a cathedral bell being rung underwater. (It would be interesting to know if the sound is in fact a manipulated sample of a church bell.) This steady pulse moves behind the track like a heartbeat as picked guitar and electronic distortion rise up in the mix to form a wall of sheer noise. The noise eventually fades and the track slides into ?Moment at Ven,? which begins with recordings of seagull and other bird calls with overlapped acoustic guitar lines. Amazingly, Hellkvist makes these widely disparate ideas mesh together quite well despite the vast sonic distance between them.
Each track, whether noisy, soft, or otherwise fits into the overall picture of ?Transports.? There is an overarching idea at work here that unfolds to the listener with each repeated listen. The disc is truly an instrumental narrative, recalling sounds and concepts throughout. Really, it?s no coincidence that the echoing electronic sound that opens the album is the last thing heard in the final fadeout. 9/10 -- Matt Blackall (1 May, 2007)