Dave S. SoDo
My first encounter with Goldmund’s entrancing piano ballads came in late 2005. Months after his debut release, “Corduroy Road,” a slow-paced stroll through the vast fields of a reflective, sentimental mind of a man and, almost exclusively, his piano. In the years following, he went on to create a few similarly cerebral, yet indescribably relatable and nostalgic works which placed a magnifying glass on the piano and its timeless ability to convey wide-ranging emotion and build powerful, distinctive narratives. By eschewing lyrical explanation and large-scale ensemble arrangements, Goldmund came to rely, time and time again, on a single instrument to deliver stories, moods, and sketches of sound that appeared superficially devoid of personality and purpose. However, as with books depriving us of sight or silent film depriving us of voice or its tone, we are provided a blank sheet of dots which we are asked as listeners to connect, to illustrate our own distinctly recognizable, personal forms.
With his newest work, entitled “Sometimes,” Goldmund has managed to create what I would consider to be the spiritual successor to Jon Hopkins and King Creosote’s five-year-old masterpiece and achingly beautiful ode to autumn, “Diamond Mine.” While a newer generation of neoclassical talents, such as the aforementioned Jon Hopkins, as well as Ólafur Arnolds, Nils Frahm, etc., have been known to integrate the majesty of thought-provoking ambience with their predilection for beat-oriented, bass-driven dance music, soundscape veterans like William Basinski, Wolfgang Voigt, for instance, have continued to expand on their minimalist admiration of the instruments and techniques they hold so dear, and have done so with astonishingly brilliant results. Goldmund seeks to follow in the footsteps of the latter group of artists, expounding the dynamic folk instrumentation of “Diamond Mine,” replacing its serene, sepia-toned landscape with a drenched, grayed-out grandeur, evoking many of the feelings and imagery I personally receive from the wet, wonderful city in which I reside. This album is the quintessential rainy day rover – a slow-burning, murky and sensuous journey through the marshes of one’s soul; if ever there were an official soundtrack to the lush nature of this gorgeous state of Washington, this is it.
Wandering through a sprawling wilderness of cool, refreshing foliage, we are made mindful of each piano key that drops, like a water droplet onto a canopied leaf above us. With a track such as “Getting Lighter,” we ambulate the forest floor, occasionally pausing to catch our breath, cherishing the moment and appreciating all that surrounds us, just before crossing paths with another – pioneering sound-designer and composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto, for the following track, “A Word I Give.” This brief instance of collaboration seems inconsequential, but as its chords fade out into an echoing haze, we become aware of the dual vulnerability and splendor that comes with solitude and personal journey. The album continues to drift through dense patches of fog and damp beds of moss unwilling to resolve or provide closure for its listeners. Instead of explanation and direction, we are left to navigate forward, with the only compass being the vague hints of song titles given: “In The Byre,” “The Hidden Observer,” “The Wind Wings,” “To Be Fair & True,” and, “Vision.” Such track names serve as chapter descriptors along our walk – never a conclusive, identifiable landmark, but, somewhat of a means to an end, or, simply, a deep, inner meditation on an imagined idea or place.
“Sometimes” does not provide a profound statement or denouement for its listener’s adventure through the wilds, but serves as a hallmark for wonderment, curiosity and one’s own introspection. We may not know where we are going or what we will accomplish upon getting there, but it is obvious Goldmund seems to want us to appreciate every step we take alongside every thought and breath we expense, en route.