Grasping in the Dark
Midnight, the first full-length solo album from Swedish musician Dan Lissvik, is a mournfully repetitive, uninventive, and generally generic record that seems more fitting as a soundtrack for an indie video game rather than an album from the hardened musical veteran such as Lissvik.
Each song of the eight track album is labeled with a one letter title, together spelling the album’s title, Midnight. While an interesting and noticeably unique stylistic choice, labeling each track M, I Pt. 1, etc. also removes any personality from each track; they might as well have been named 1, 2, etc. In turn, this stylistic choice magnifies the already repetitive nature of the album.
Differentiating from tracks in his previous music group, Studio, none of the tracks in Midnight utilize lyrics. While some pieces such as “G” and “H” feature vocal humming, the rest of the pieces on the album solely feature synthesized instruments. While one would think that a lack of lyrics would allow an artist to experiment with more complicated and interesting rhythms, Lissvik does not take advantage of this opportunity.
Compounded by the fact that none of his tracks have memorable titles, his simplistic eight pieces quickly begin to blend together. Every track on Midnight is written in 4/4 time, seven of which rely on backbeats which occur on beats 2 and 4 of their respective time signatures, while “G” has emphasis on beats 1-4.
Moreover, every track is organized in the same manner. A recurring 2-4 measure rhythm composes the real meat of each track, with a new layer of rhythm and sound being added with each iteration. These new layers, however, are often just a series of chimes, a new guitar riff, or a new synthetic beat. As these songs range anywhere from two to nine minutes, even if these new variations and layers were interesting, they become simply tedious to listen to and impossible to enjoy.
Even the funky, intoxicating guitar and sensual vocal “ugh’s” that make up “G” will have you checking your watch halfway through the track’s five-and-a-half minute run time. The only truly successful track on the album, “H,” stands out due to its two-and-a-half minute run-time and truly unique sound which features low, guttural, almost tribal grunts and deep, mysterious bass. Despite this track’s success, however, it cannot support the weight of its bulky, unsightly accomplices.
In turn, Midnight is an overproduced album that is too long, too tedious, and ultimately boring. These tracks are so stale that you cannot even zone out and relax as you listen, as you are left constantly grasping in the dark for variation and invention which simply is not present.