Sven Laux – Paper Streets


I often review music when I have insomnia and I’d worked my way through the entire CD of Sven Laux’s lush glacial swells when I realised the track I was listening to was titled I Wish I Could Sleep because I do wish that. So I wonder what hour of day this was recorded? It’s 2.46am here and thank goodness I have a day off in the morning because I’m hyper awake. Where was Sven when he made this and what time was it? Did he have some epic film playing in the background, muted so he could latch onto a location, because this feels like a somewhere. A reflective somewhere.

Paper Streets is an undeniably an album about weather, shafts of light – and possibly being underwater [at least in this listener’s lug-holes]. It’s a widescreen affair that would soundtrack the current flagship UK natural history programme Blue Planet II, with it’s Hans Zimmer echoes. That might be a lazy reference, but looking at Sven’s website (always nice when an artist has more than a Bandcamp) he describes himself as a composer, sound designer, musician, DJ and film addict. He lives in Berlin. Of course he does. But any way, it’s clear that he’s an audio visual gun for hire.

I think he means business with a somewhat vocational trajectory in his professional life and fair play to him. I’d employ him on the strength of his services on both the quality of his PR but also on a CD which has a fair bit of gravitas for a one-man operation. I’m told there may be field recordings in here, but if so they are well integrated into a lovely suite of tracks that reminded me a little of Bersarin Quartett’s second LP “II” – in mood if not in technique. It reminds me of that. A lot.

Laux had a nice release out prior to this on Archipel Musique which was more beat-y but there’s still a kind of modern clean pastoralism that permeates both records.

Paper Streets starts out thin, with upper register light movements, before introducing bold samples of strings and keyboards that would make track A Glimpse of Memory slot in perfectly with Kompakt’s Pop Ambient series of releases which are smooth and maximalist. Long reverbs and decays follow with some sampled orchestra or himself playing in a very treated manner, hinting only slightly at malevolent tones. These get a little more complex on the Paper Streets title track where it’s hard to tell whether the violin is treated or completely artificial, there’s such a wash over everything. By now, I’m handling the cover art of the digipak – could be a German mountain, maybe a Swiss one, or further afield as the music goes through a movement of many glissandos that I wonder are Sven’s own fingers or a pitch-bending wheel. It doesn’t matter, we reach The Lost Violin just before some subtle environmental recordings pull us into the I Wish I Could Sleep finale, which is, as I’ve said, my favourite track. It’s 03:25 now, and I’m looking forward to ploughing through his back catalogue in the morning…

Night Night, I’m sinking lower and lower in the bathysphere.