Last night on BBC6 Music Tom Robinson had an acoustic music special, midway through he played Rodrigo Y Gabriela’s cover of Metallica’s Orion and it was a reminder that acoustic music doesn’t need to be one-dimensional, it can sound both subtle, and full-bodied and on occasions even loud. Another artist that confounds the stereotypes of acoustic music is Martin Åkesson, a Finish-based solo musician with an uncanny command over his instrument and an obsession with consciousness. Exploring the acoustic guitar and his voice through the folk traditions of the world, his musical style fuses diverse ideas into a powerful whole that is undeniably music for people.
His new solo project is called [Tranq/mit] The project successfully creates music that transmits a signal (emotional or otherwise) without focusing too much on the mechanical details of its manifestation. Coming from a background in Nordic folk music, he explains that he wanted to get out of the nationalistic trappings of ethnic music and make something more abstract, more open.
From the opening bars of first track Isador you are immediately hooked, a near gypsy folk sound provides the gateway for a sprawling musical journey, you find yourself singing along in Swedish despite not knowing the language, it’s truly wondrous. At times intense, at times minimal it always seems fluid, breaking songs down before building them back up with consummate ease. Sampled distant voices float in like conversations on the wind.
The average length of the 6 tracks on this mini album is around 7 minutes, and while this might not mean it’s radio friendly, let’s be clear it’s very listener friendly, if anything you just want more, such is the skill of the composition. Masks seeks to elevate the mind from the futility of mundane reality and bring a spark of magic into the heart of the listener, and boy does it succeed.
The tracks flow gracefully together, and it becomes unimportant when one ends and one begins Masks is greater than the sum of its parts. For this reason it’s hard to pick a stand-out favourite, but it’s the mark of a good album is surely when both the first and last track burn bright in your mind, clearly you’ve been engaged for the duration.
Masks is available for download (with full lyrics and English translations) at his Bandcamp page. It’s essential listening.