Swedish multi-instrumentalist Fredrik Klingwall first came to my attention via his horror themed soundtrack music delivered over various projects such as Anima Morte and in his own name. Others no doubt know him through his time as keyboardist in progressive metal outfit Loch Vostok. He has also played in other outfits such as Flagellation, Machinery and In Grey. He has always struck as someone who has a wealth of creativity and an on-going passion in creating various shades and sounds musically and now he has taken a somewhat new direction with Romanian singer songwriter Julia Black of Silent Spirit and Apotheoses. A new name to me, Julia is apparently also very busy at working in a variety of styles such as ‘space electronic music and Trip-Hop music with jazz, metal and oriental influences.’ The result is Sentience which also involves some other guest musicians expanding the palette with instruments such as violin, viola, cello and vibraphone along with Klingwall’s various output with Mellotron, Hammond and church organs, celeste and various other synthesizers.

On reading this you might be expecting an over the top dramatic display of many instruments pompously going over the top and perhaps too much to take in with an overriding symphonic ballast and wild operatic vocals. This actually couldn’t be further than the truth and this is actually an exercise in delicate beauty and a highly mellow listening experience. From the neo-classical opening bars of strings and woodwind on opener ‘The Fall’ it is quickly established that this is going to be a gentle and even quite pastoral journey. Julia’s vocals are far from over the top and accompany the music in a calming fashion that gives it all a bit of a fairy-tale icing. Don’t worry too much about musical overdose of sugary sweetness either, everything strikes as natural and Julia’s tones are what I can only describe as elfin and soothing whether she is softly singing or as in a couple of these tracks seductively whispering.

You are not going to raise a sweat while listening to these 10 numbers but simply indulge yourself in their succulence. I certainly wasn’t sure on first listen and thought at first Sentience might simply be too light for my normal listening sense, however over repeated listens charm, tenderness and the fragility of things have won me over. These are songs for soft warm night and a lovers embrace, they cast the darkness away on the whole although sometimes sombre tones such as found on the reflective electronic pulse of songs like ‘Collapse’ do permeate and these are obviously songs composed by those hurt and wounded by the cruel arrows shot from loves past.

I was pleased to hear that Klingwall simply cannot help himself and occasionally his past dabbling in themes of terror do infect his compositions as there is a touch of the Italian prog Giallo sound to songs such as ‘Into The Dark Heart and Night Of Introspection . Not that you should worry nobody is stalking here to stab you or anything but there is a notion of bewitchment by the way they work together with the sensuality of the vocals. I think I have pretty much said all that needs to be here and although this is soft and uncomplicated music if you are looking for a touch of beauty and some music to soothe the savage heart allowing you to forget the ugliness in the world for 3 quarters of an hour this will do the job nicely.

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)