I probably say this every time I have an instrumental album under the pen but listening to music without lyrics makes for a wholly different and fairly special experience. If I’m honest, lyrics can often get in the way. They lead you directly to the conclusion that the artist wants you to. Where’s the fun in that? Surely it is better to let the music take the listener to whichever place they feel drawn to, even if that place isn’t even on the creator’s original musical map. In fact, it does raise an interesting point. When it comes to listening to a song is it the originator who decides what it is about or is it the listener? If it is the latter, then a song can be all things to all people, the meanings of which are left to the listener to decipher and decide. That’s an idea I like a lot.
But of course, an artist knows why they were inspired to write the music in the first place, even if those reasons remain personal and hidden. There is a story behind the album, a dark and tragic one, a feeling that can sometimes be felt in the music but largely the inspirations seem to be drawn from the majesty and wild beauty of the landscape of northern Norway and specifically around Tromsø.
The Colors She Imagined is a musically ornate album built from piano lines that wander between the simple and delicate, and complex, jazz-infused creations through which the drums complement and collide as required. The titles of the tracks give you some idea of the narrative that drives the musical story, Honeymoon, Peaks and Valleys, Burnout, Swan Song and the music itself is as vibrant and dramatic as the rugged Scandanavia vistas which have helped to inspire the music.
Honeymoon, the opening track, is almost jaunty and easily melodic, optimistic and fun, as the name would suggest, and from here the album takes you on a wonderful journey, the music creating dramatic crescendoes and lulling interludes as it ebbs and flows, telling both a human story and describing the wider, wilder world around us.
Peaks and Valleys undulates, swoops and dives, rises up and reaches for the sky, the piano and drums often swapping rolls so that repetitive single chord rhythms ground the song whilst the beats add intrigue and inventiveness. Turning Point offers a moment of gentle reflection before tumbling into a maelstrom of staccato riffs, elegant jazz runs and eloquent, bluesy beats.
Double-Edged Sword completes the story in a swirl of cinematic sonics, a dense mist that descends upon the album, breaking with the sound of what has gone before, introducing mournful brass and hushed vocals, a real change of tone and texture and a great and unexpected final chapter.
It comes as no surprise to find that Synne Morset has arranged music for everyone from the Arctic Philharmonic to Moddi and writes and sings with her own band Yora and is well known in both Norway and beyond thanks to a host of articles and features that have been written about her and her music.
But such associations means nothing if she doesn’t have the music to back it up and thankfully The Colors She Imagined tells you everything that you need to know. Deft and dexterous playing, adventurous writing and colourful composition, often poised and sometimes playful, tasteful, dramatic and inspiring. I could go on but I think you get the picture.