Delicate atmosphere of a Stockholm basement

The debut album from Gustaf Montelius’ band The Fiery Piano was preceded by the four-track EP Sirens, and this full-length effort is an accomplished and fluid follow-up. Utilising the cut-and-paste techniques employed on Sirens to full effect, Second Space has a homemade and notably low-fidelity feel. Handcrafted, delicate atmospherics amidst a wave of indie pop are the product of a Stockholm basement.

Opening in somewhat dramatic and ambitious fashion, “Intro” sets the scene with an apocalyptic sound. The upbeat indie pop melodies recurrently give way to moments of quiet, rhythmic melancholia. This is a frequent and intermittent occurrence throughout the album, and it prevents stagnation; the shifting textures of sound steer the album away from the repetitive abyss. Stop second-guessing, for this is not your standard indie pop regurgitation. “Intro” runs smoothly into what is undoubtedly one of the albums highlights, “More Like a Tiger, Less Like a Dove” – a classic, high-energy, simmering-with-summer song that eventually ends in organised chaos. It would not be rude to assume from here that we might enjoy a steady yet beautiful descent from what could easily be the album’s finest moment, but there are strengths scattered around every corner. Due to the multifaceted and multi-layered dimensions, you are bound to keep finding new favourites.
Second Space leaves you feeling like you have just run through a musical assault course, only to feel a sense of exhausted completion. There is an exquisite swoon marinating within the record; it is understated, lacking pretence, fragile but never feeble. Self-created, self-produced and released on his own label, Montelius reveals that his work is “not made to earn more money for old men in new suits who already have enough”. It is this organic approach that injects the record with a rare and admirable sincerity, making Second Space nothing short of a considerable triumph.      – IANS