‘Ambient’ is a tricky genre. For some, the classification can mean anything from ‘boring,’ ‘repetitive,’ or ‘dull.’ For others, ambient music can be a remarkably complex puzzle – dissecting the sonic space and melodies to find simple themes, much like looking for a pearl in the ocean. As a fan of film scores, I’ve come to find an appreciation for ambience and incidental spaces. It’s the best way to approach an album such as Intentions and Variations. Listening to the album in a vacuum can lead to intriguing discoveries – through melody and texture.
Intentions and Variations is Mikael Lind’s debut EP through Morr Music. While Lind has a handful of LPs under his belt, Intentions and Variations is easily the most ambient work in his discography. Utilizing minimal arrangements, simple chords and frequencies, Lind creates an all-encompassing sound that floats throughout the duration of the album.
There’s much to be said about the simplicity of this EP. The piano and viola are Lind’s primary weapons of choice. With them, Lind creates textured and, at times, hypnotic melodies – some tracks finding the dissonance you’d hear in a Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross film score. You can hear hints of this within the title track, but the similarities are more apparent in tracks such as ‘Unyielding Rocks’ and ‘With a Murmur’. The comparison to Reznor and Ross isn’t meant to take away from Intentions and Variations – it’s meant to reinforce how well Mikael Lind constructs the album’s soundscape.
Clocking in at around 30 minutes, Intentions and Variations is a weightless, engrossing work. In its brevity, the album crystallizes mood and emotion like an effective film score. Listeners are rewarded with repeated listens as more textures, moods and sonic soundscapes present themselves in ways you might have missed the first time around.