Review: Peter Bjärgö – The Architecture of Melancholy

The Architecture of Melancholy may open on the ritualistic drum cycles, streaming background drones and cavernous echo that place it squarely within the Cyclic Law bracket, but Peter Bjärgö’s sound begins to bleed out of this dark ambient core rather rapidly. This process begins with the introduction of his voice, which murmurs into the open space – at a volume that barely extends out of his own body, but with a depth that floods the album’s expansive underground setting – and homes in on the human sorrow from which the grand atmospherics extend. There’s a slight cinematic edge to the gloom that pours forth from Bjärgö’s melody cycles, and while it’d be a push to call the record anything other than inward facing and introspective, there’s a delicate propulsion behind the music that makes it feel ever so slightly communicative. Underlying the album’s desire for solitude is a very subtle awareness of a potential listener, and a will to be heard by at least someone.

Bjärgö’s efforts amount to varying degrees of success. The title track is actually one of the more awkward of the album’s cuts; the vocal melody feels as though it’s hovering uncomfortably above the central chord progression rather than sinking into it, while the track’s repetitious spiral lacks the necessary intrigue to carry it right through its six-minute duration. Inversely, the likes of “The Death of our Sun” utilise monotony to much greater effect; skeletal drum programming nudges the phantom guitar melody and piano motif forward, as Bjärgö wearily announces his apocalyptic despair into an engulfing void. He proves himself most capable when breaking from the song structure too, as in the murky bells and reverberant violin of “Bitteresque”, and the endlessly cascading underwater piano of “Sleep Dep.Loop1”.