New York painter and musician Tor Lundvall initially envisioned his 14th album, Beautiful Illusions, as an entirely instrumental affair, “inspired by memories of sitting in a church or cathedral watching the shifting sunlight through stained glass.” Although he ultimately chose to wreath the majority of the tracks with hushed, poetic vocals, his original muse still resonates. These are certainly songs of shadowplay and vaulted skies, the quiet grandeur of dusk deepening on the horizon. Lundvall characterizes the lyrical subject matter, too, in ways both specific and surreal, exploring “the doubts, the anxieties and even the bleak fantasies the mind spirals into during moments of isolation, separation and distance.” Tricks of the eye, mind, and ear, magnified by silence and the looming long winter.
Shivering pulses and muted bass lines tread the twilight while icicle synths and wiry guitar map the melody until the voice enters, narrating oblique moods of essence and absence, tenderness and truth. Glimpses of dark humor flicker in the wordplay but the greater sonic landscape is one of falling leaves and failing light, small gestures rendered as revelation, cloaked in reverb and spatial fog. Lundvall’s mastery of nuance and negative space continues to heighten, whispered brushstrokes of the invisible and the unsaid, what lies beneath and what lies beyond: “Behind the shields and false fronts is usually a sadness. The heartbreaking reflections of what might have been.”