Sparkling Lights – Trond Fykse (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There has been an undoubted rise in people’s consumption of ambient and understated music in the last year or so. Lockdown has meant that rather than getting their musical kicks from more energetic forms, played live before your very eyes and ears, people have been more inclined to consume deft and delicate music in the quiet and comfort of their own homes. Sparkling Lights is exactly the sort of thing which fits into this category.

Sitting somewhere between classical grace and gentle electronica, Trond Fyske wraps restrained beats and washes of glowing synth colour around a spacious and plaintive piano. But it is the use of space and the feeling of calm and silence which, ironically, makes just as big an impact. Space, when used as an instrument in its own right allows one note to drift off naturally before the next arrives, to create atmosphere and anticipation in the intervening moments. And that is exactly what is happening here.

Many artists, even those working in such delicate sonic territory, tend to throw too much into the mix, to have songs resolve in climax and crescendo, to slow burn into a more weighty beast, to forget the golden rule that less is more. Trond Fykse never losses sight of his minimalist goals. If less is more, then surely much less must be so much more? Sparkling Lights proves this to be so true.

There is something of Ludovico Einaudi and his “post-classical” approach to be heard in its minimalist and crystal tones and something of Brian Eno’s otherworldly ambience in the landscape that the piano sits in. As such, it is music which enters the listener’s consciousness via a sort of osmosis, rather than on any real effort on their part.

The conclusion has to be that Sparkling Lights is a gorgeous piece of music. One which aims to soothe the soul rather than trouble the head or the heart, it’s function is bigger and more poignant than that. It is also music which is perfect for these isolated and confined times, the perfect sonic ornament and mood setter for your living space.

There will be a time for the more brash and bombastic to return, a time when music will regain its social aspect and energetic ways. But music has to be of its time too and Trond Fykse makes music perfect for the world we find ourselves in today. And I suspect once you hear it, it will always have a place and a purpose in your life, no matter what the “new normal” might offer us in the months to come.

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