Pre-Order · Apr 28, 2023
Neo-Classical Electronica Artist Gunnar Spardel finds comfort in music, as a way to contemplate life and death. In his introspective work, Spardel's atmospheric music draws from nature and life itself, most recently portrayed in his upcoming album "The Fade to Afterlife".
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Born in Germany and now based in the United States, Gunnar Spardel is primarily known for his work as Tigerforest, a chill electronica project that leans towards an upbeat soundscape. However, after the turbulence of recent events Spardel wanted to write under his own name for intimate and personal expression and to understand the new world around him. ‘The Fade To Afterlife’ follows his stunning 2020 release ‘Simplicity in a Complex World,’ which won the Schallwelle Award for Best Artist in Germany.
“‘The Fade To Afterlife’ tells the story of a person facing his final stages of life,” explains Spardel. “Each song tells a story about facing a journey’s end and the uncertainty of what will happen once we pass away.” The songs, which were written on the piano and synthesizers, tell stories of life, loss and love. Gunnar Spardel created the arrangements on his computer, before working with session musicians to cement the ideas and breathe organic life into the pieces. As the album was written during the pandemic, and the musicians could not work together in the studio, they recorded their parts separately. Nonetheless, the album still holds the essence of community, and emotion is felt in every note.
Opening the 8-track album is ‘Gone Into the World of Light,’ a free-spirited and thoughtful composition, constructed of soft mallet arpeggiators. A delicate cello sings above layers of synthesizers and strings, blending together real instruments with electronic sounds. The result is cinematic, especially as the epic, but minimal percussion is introduced, bringing energy without overstepping the melodic elements.
‘The Missing’ brings warmth through strings that shimmer with tremolo. The lone sound of a cello cuts through, eerie yet compelling, insinuating sorrow and hope. The sprinkling of piano adds a warm brightness, and the textures and tones of the soundscape, swirl and bubble, glide and churn intertwined with each other, into an atmospheric crescendo.
‘In The Shadow of Memories’ welcomes back the piano, alongside the gentle swooshing of ambient pads. A harp brings new textural elements, once again combining orchestration with ambient electronic synthesizers. There’s a gentleness and tenderness to this album, and each song is purposeful and thought-provoking.
‘The Light Remains’ experiments with delayed effects which create fascinating interest. There’s a brief moment where the tinkling of the piano pauses before the song drops back in with a sense of urgency thanks to the tapping of a cymbal and a piano arrangement that opens the song. This is the first track on the album where a full drum kit is introduced and it’s a refreshing new layer without overpowering. Brass instrumentation and angelic vocals are also a welcomed dynamic, leading the piece into a new direction.
'On The Quiet Path of Dreams’ is dream-like, as the title suggests. Soft and euphoric, the gentle and sparse piano flourishes over ambient synths and a mournful cello takes centre stage. As the song builds, so does the rhythmic element, arpeggiating synths swell and blossom.
‘Carpe Momentum’ brings lightness, like a sigh of relief, with its delicate, whimsical piano notes. The addition of electronic drum patterns is an uplifting turn of events, but the signature string instrumentation remains for a harmonious fusion of contemporary production.
‘Towards Silence’ opens with the low bass of a piano, slowly but thoughtfully moving forward. The song experiments with percussion and ethereal brass, before dropping and down tuning offering new energy, with the strumming of an electric guitar, played by Brian Eno’s guitarist, Leo Abrahams, and the joyful kit, recorded by Ólafur Arnalds’ live drummer Chris Tschugnall. It feels like a turning point of acceptance, as the brass once again elevates the piece, sprinkled with synths, harps, and vocals for a triumphant and cinematic crescendo.
‘The River,’ a 10-minute finale closes ‘The Fade to Afterlife’ and explores the concept that life is like a river, forever flowing. Even when it changes course, it cannot be stopped. Life always goes on and Gunnar Spardel captures it beautifully, through graceful piano and synth melodies that move effortlessly with one another.
‘The Fade to Afterlife’ is a journey. Reflective, thought-provoking and inspirational, Gunnar Spardel has captured what it means to be alive. The album is scheduled for release on SUNSEASKY in Spring 2023.