(Eilean Rec., 2016)
I mean, duh, of course “øjeRum [Danish for “eye room”] is the all about the attempt to capture and convey emotions, moods and memories.” Substitute “øjeRum” with “Eilean Rec.” and you pretty much have the label’s motto plastered over this release. I’m not suggesting the obvious is necessarily a bad thing – quite to the contrary, you pretty much know what you’re about to get with an Eilean record. With Væv, map point 54 within the label’s cartography, øjeRum continues the tradition of gentle ambience, instrumental folk, and wide-eyed mood (there’s that word again) the French label so expertly peddles.
Much as I hate to overuse the word “nostalgia,” the concept is pretty much front and center on Væv. Copenhagen-based Paw Grabowski, in his øjeRum guise, plucks and strums his treated acoustic guitar, sounding at times like church bells, at times like angelic harp, and suspends the listener in the magic of the gossamer melodies. It’s impossible to escape until it completes its album cycle – it envelopes you in a haze and narcotizes the present moment, serving as an interior time machine to your past. That’s the overarching review of this record – it does not venture beyond this state. Within this continuum, Grabowski explores the idea of the human being whose feelings are harnessed in a distinct way by his music. Indeed, Væv translates to “tissue,” as in the tissues of the human body, and each passage on the record is dedicated to the idea of human interaction with itself and its interiority. Grabowski “fleshes out” this concept (I’m sorry) by marrying the physical with the emotional, allowing the body and the mind to grapple with absence by triggering heartrending emotion through composition. To say that it’s effective is an understatement.
A theme appears as early as opener “Hud” (“Skin”), absorbed through pores like anesthetic, entering the bloodstream and coursing through the circulatory system, sedating as it passes and placing the listener a state of sublimity, albeit with that tinge of sadness. The theme reappears throughout Væv like a nagging memory, lingering on the tip of subconscious, a ghost ready to surface into waking life the moment it’s allowed to. It makes its presence felt most distinctly on the title track (“Eye”) as well as on closer “Afsavn” (“Deprivation”), but the entirety of Væv plays like a continuation of or an homage to the central idea.
So “nostalgia” it is, permeating the entire body with its overwhelmingly distinct sentiment, a pulsing distribution of half-waking recollection through sonic recall. Never mind the heady discussion – Grabowski’s playing is so gentle and so considered that you’re in remarkably good hands. As much as nostalgia gets a bad rap sometimes for easy emotional retention, it can also be a good reminder that sentiment does exist if you can slow down enough to observe it and let it wash over you. Yuck, that sounds like some easy-out Ferris Bueller-y nonsense. But hey, øjeRum gives me the feels, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.