It is not easy to create beautiful and melancholic piano music that doesn’t get dreary after a few minutes. One of the most obvious characteristics of the current neo-classical piano scene is the element of repetition of melodies and patterns. Easier said than done but to this day it truly remains a high art to play this repetitive music in such emotional and touching ways that it stays varied and fascinating for each second. Henrik Lindstrand – a Danish composer and pianist who some of you might recognize as part of the famous indie rock outfit Kashmir– knows exactly how to turn monotonous patterns into absorbing soundscapes that capture your imagination.
A journey through the night
His newest record Nattresan (‘a journey through the night’) was only released a few weeks ago and exactly contains the finest characteristics of the neo classical cosmos: it combines repetitive samples with emotional melodies and clear notes that assemble to a hypnotizing soundscape. One special aspect of Lindstrand’s newest work is the fact that it was indeed only written during night. A circumstance that hasn’t been attended: “I am actually not a night person at all, but due to the busy daytime, I forced myself to write during the night. I think the album has been different because of this- it is perhaps a bit more mellow and slow than it would have been if it was written during the day. I don´t know. Things sound different during the night. You are also a bit off guard mentally and can probably access your emotions easier. I had easier to work intuitively,” says the Danish composer.
The fact that Lindstrand wrote the whole record during night time has also shaped its main theme: the music is about the transition between being awake and dreaming. Like some kind of nightly meditation after a busy day. “Whenever I sit down and play, I need to be 100% in the now- trying to clear my mind of thoughts and only be there in the moment. Whenever my mind starts drifting in other directions, the music is affected. It is like exercising your mind to be focused on one thing only. It is probably a bit like meditating.”
Asking about Henrik’s relation to the piano, he tells me, that he just re-discovered it about three years ago. Before, he had lost his connection to the instrument and he even admits that he found it boring to play because for him, it had been too predictable and routine-like. So, he tried out many other instruments like guitars, synths or organs. But then, sometime during a parent visit for Christmas, he found himself in front of his childhood piano and the magic returned to him.
“When I visited my parents during a Christmas, I sat down at my childhood piano which I started playing when I was 3, and I suddenly fell in love with the instrument again. A crush. Since that day, I’ve felt that I’ve gotten a deeper love and understanding for the piano- and perhaps it was good to be ‘away’ from it in a long period.”
It is great luck that the musician found his way back to the piano, as he really enhances the neo-classical scenery with his latest musical output.
Apart from making his own music, the multi-instrumentalist also writes for movies and television. He worked on his first film music project back in 2007. A composition that was made for a 96-piece symphony orchestra and which he hasn’t really been prepared for: “I was not prepared for this big project at this stage but I learned so much during this process and I got a big kick out seeing how powerful music can be to picture. After eight intense months, we recorded everything, and it was so rewarding to hear every note you had put so much work into finally being played by amazing musicians. Ever since that first scoring experience, I´ve been fortunate to work on a string of feature films and tv-series. Sometimes minimalistic electronic scores, sometimes orchestral- and everything in between. I like the variation and I like being in the background but still playing a big role. I often get comments about my own music sounding cinematic, which I take as a big compliment. I like the idea of music that creates pictures in peoples mind.”
But Henrik Lindstrand is not only known for his film scores, but rather because of his part in the successful Danish indie-rock band Kashmir. In the rock formation, he is responsible for playing the keyboard. From 1991 until 2013 the band released 8 albums which gave them international attention (and even made David Bowie a fan). After 13 years of making music together, the four musicians decided to go on a hiatus. Since then, the music world is waiting for another album by the band. Asking Lindstrand about his time with Kashmir, he admits that it was inevitable to take a break from the band so there was room for individual projects. He adds: “I think we all miss playing together from time to time, but I find it quite unlikely that we would get together and make an album again anytime soon. It could be great though to play a concert or two at some point just for fun. We´ll see what happens. On the other hand, I feel very privileged at the moment focusing more on my solo-project along with selected film projects.”
In any case, with or without another Kashmir record, Henrik Lindstrand’s solo piano music is a valuable addition for the music world. Nattresan is a stunning piece of nocturnal tenderness, a record that invites the audience to dive into its musical brilliancy. It’s out now via One Little Indian Records and if you like to know a bit more about the artist’s new album you can find a little documentation below.
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