All In The Same Breath by Croatian Amor
With his most mature work to date, Rahbek's skills as a composer and producer blossom
In his musical output Loke Rahbek, aka Croatian Amor, is prolific. Alongside a clutch of solo releases, he's had a hand in at least five times as many projects under other names (including collaborations with folk like Varg and Christian Stadsgaard). Surveying his vast back catalogue, it's impossible to sketch a meaningful path to illustrate his ongoing development, he's surged from one methodology to another with inquisitive abandon. The only conclusion is that his work has become increasingly thoughtful and in turn listenable.
Ten years ago he was making death metal and exploratory noise pieces as Sexdrome, Shooting Gallery and Caucasian Colony; more performance art than entertainment. The World, his first album as Croatian Amor, came out in 2013 and the badge I've recently pinned on his lapel as a producer that offsets noise with melody was emerging back then. Around five years ago, raucous guitar was largely replaced by more electronic experimentation, even though audial discord remained a key element. In recent years, song structure and composition has come to the fore, ultimately realised through a wider selection of instrumentation and improving technical skills. You can hear on sixth LP Isa, from 2019, his subtle mash-up approach of cutting together contrasting components to create tension and balance was fully formed. The same can be said about his most recent album, Elephant, a collaboration with Frederik Valentin. In other words, he's always consolidating and improving his lot.
On seventh album All In The Same Breath the refinement process continues with Rahbek (unnecessarily?) ironing out the bumps and giving us a near perfectly formed ten track album (in just 34 fleeting minutes) that ruffles and soothes like a head massage. The range of sounds are as varied as they are unorthodox, although I suspect most are simulated via clever electronic wizardry rather than manually on analogue gear. His attention to detail is laudable with every element carefully treated and tastefully arranged, be that an unidentifiable field recording or potent percussion or a simple drum pattern. Piano is used throughout to great effect, setting a calming and positive tone, while wistful melodies are struck with guitar-lead top-lines, Jonathan a particular highlight. At the end, the lightly-picked guitar combined with vocals synths on The River That Flows In You Also Flows In Me is guaranteed to serenade weary senses. Even when the pace rises on Fires In The Dark, with it's breakbeat rhythms, the overall uplifting vibe remains intact, perfectly calculated. This is Rhabek's best yet!