“Sentimental music, just like the change of seasons, has this beautiful way of taking you back somewhere and then forward, so you feel nostalgic and hopeful all at the same moment.”
In the blog feature with A Strangely Isolated Place 3 years ago, Ryan Griffin had disclosed that there would be a forthcoming drum & bass album on his brilliant label. I’ve had a feeling that it would be by Ludvig Cimbrelius (under his Illuvia alias) and several months later my intuition proved right. Titled ‘Iridescence of Clouds’ and accompanied by an ‘isolated mix’ where Ludvig showcased his d&b influences, the album has been a definite highlight of 2021 So, this feature is the closing chapter of the blog’s mini-series exploring the interconnection between the drum & bass and ambient cultures with the help and invaluable insight of my next guest.
A multifaceted artist, a meditative and insightful composer, Ludvig Cimbrelius started his recording career at a tender age in 1999. Drawing inspiration from a wide range of musical influences, from Eurythmics and Björk to Photek and Squarepusher, his music is an extensive natural canvas, full of colours and sounds constantly adding deep, saturated hues into the monochrome silence. Although the term ‘cinematic music’ has been used ad nauseam, Ludvig’s cerebral approach to music is almost ‘Lynch-ian’, a unique juxtaposition of the ordinary with the avant-garde.
Artist Profile / Aliases
Back in the 90s, the use of different recording guises was either due to contractual agreements/commitments with record labels, or a means of artistic experimentation with different genres and tempos. Before the advent of the internet era, there was a faceless mystique, a veil of suspense, behind artist names and only the liner notes on the record sleeves might provide a hint. And then came discogs and gave it all away…
I first discovered Ludvig’s music from a collaborative drum & bass release on Cadence Recordings (Bass’Flo & Ziyal – Invisible Worlds EP, CAD028) in 2013 and I admit it took me some time to discover the connection with his other projects, as he has been recording under a plethora of different aliases, each one encapsulating different aspects in terms of musical vision.
Ludvig breaks down his aliases one by one; the entire spectrum of his artistic expression:
My first artist name: I began using it at the age of 15, as a tribute to the sounds of nature that helped me rediscover inner peace after some years of turmoil and sorrow. I spent endless hours alone in nature during this period of my life – it was deeply therapeutic for me to just be still and listen. I was often enchanted by the sound of small streams. In Swedish, we have the word ‘porla’ to describe this sound and it felt natural that the English equivalent of this word would become a moniker for the music I began creating during that time. The essence of ‘Purl’ remains intertwined with the natural landscapes and dreamlike visions of my youth, yet it has also expanded in (for me) unexpected directions – such as exploring ideas of intergalactic ancestry. At the core, the intention of ‘Purl’ remains the same: to be an expression of the serenity and depth of our natural state.
‘Rust’ emerged soon after ‘Purl’. In contrast to the softer melodic worlds inspired by my natural surroundings, I found myself experimenting with rougher industrial sounds, rhythmically within the realm of techno. The first Rust album (‘Return’) was in my mind a soundtrack to book one in the ‘Dune’ saga by Frank Herbert. I wanted to create environments that were vast and desolate, with rhythms constructed of elements reminiscent of archaic electrical equipment failing in the harsh desert conditions. It was one of the first albums I completed that was actually released, and though it sounds dated to me now, it was quite a remarkable feat for me back then on the very basic equipment I had access to at the time. The sound of ‘Rust’ has been described as ‘dub techno’, though I didn’t know of this term back then. A second ‘Rust’ album (‘Transient Resurrection’) eventually came together, as I was sharing some old techno tracks with a friend, who urged me to release them. I’m glad I eventually did. I have no idea today how I accomplished such a deep punchy sound – in terms of sheer dynamism and groove; those tracks outshine everything I’ve made since.
Still early in my musical explorations, I was listening to a lot of music that I later learned was labeled as IDM; melodic, emotional, glitchy tunes, often with experimental choppy beats. Naturally, whatever music I fell in love with also became an inspiration for my own creative endeavors. These tracks had a more childlike, innocent tone, sometimes with very wild beats, made from sounds I recorded myself; perhaps drumming on a table with my fingers, beat-boxing or cutting out pieces from just about any sound you can imagine and sequencing them into patterns using an archaic digital drum machine (‘BBox’). There are many similarities with early ‘Purl’ tracks here, but ‘Surr’ traveled in a more free and wilder direction, and when the first album was completed I felt it was to be released under a different moniker. ‘Surr’ is a word in Swedish describing the sound that bumblebees make as they are flying (perhaps you will also note a theme here revolving around the number four, a theme that has remained consistent throughout my life). Incidentally, there are four ‘Surr’ albums, all of them free to download. I don’t think I’ve made anything more pure and honest since. If I were to choose one album that for me represents the childlike essence of my music, it would be ‘Love Is’ by ‘Surr’.
At the peak of a traumatic experience in my early twenties related to some recurring breathing difficulties that I’ve battled with since childhood, I found myself pushed to the point of surrendering completely – even to the point of giving up my life if necessary. After that deep letting go, I soon found myself fully recovered, and beyond that, being lifted upward by a positive spiral that took me higher than I remember ever having been before. This was in winter, and I remember having tears of joy in my eyes as I was riding through the snow on my bicycle in the dark early mornings, catching the bus to work. I was living in an old house without much insulation left in the walls, yet the cold didn’t hinder my creative process, as I experienced this fresh new musical energy moving through me with glittering, cosmic deep house tracks taking shape one after another. Curiously exploring the new rhythms and atmospheres, I knew that this was a new beginning rather than a continuation of anything already set into motion. It was a bright period for me creatively, and interestingly enough, for a few years to come, the creative spurts of ‘Alveol’ would continue to take place during cold winters in poorly insulated spaces, which is odd since listeners often describe the sound of ‘Alveol’ as ‘sunny beach music’ (perhaps this is what I was subconsciously longing for at the time, and it manifested through the music). I remember feeling so fulfilled by the flow of inspiration when I was creating that I wouldn’t really notice the cold until afterwards.
Of all my projects, ‘Alveol’ might be the one that is most saturated by positive energy. Fruitful in terms of releases, and even more so when it came to opportunities of remixing other artists – my own favorite memories from this project tend to be remixes – and I collected some unreleased ones on this compilation. After about 8 years of both highs and lows, I felt that the journey had been completed and let the project go to rest, though its spirit lives on in another alias of mine.
‘Ziyal’ was my first official drum & bass alias. Named after a beautiful character in ‘Star Trek DS9’, who attempts to bridge two warring worlds with her innocence and love, until she is betrayed and killed at a young age. The music felt bright and powerful, and ‘Ziyal’ also found additional momentum early on through the prolific collaboration with the UK based artist Daljit Kundi (aka ‘Bass’Flo’), a long-time friend and sonic co-pilot.
As time went on it began to feel like the ‘Ziyal’ project was cursed. A couple of labels had expressed enormous interest, signed tracks, and then… nothing. Five years of empty promises later, I found myself having to pull tracks out and try to get them released somewhere else, before I had completely moved on (this all happened before I had clear ways of self-releasing music; a process that is much easier now). Similar scenarios turned out to be recurring struggles for me during this phase of my musical journey (and not just with ‘Ziyal’), as well as the emotionally tough experience of labels that cut ties after release – still controlling the distribution but not paying royalties or sharing any information. This is sadly not an uncommon scenario in the music industry and I’ve mostly been blessed with honest and committed co-creators on my path, with a few exceptions. Because of the uphill struggle, it was a relief to finally let ‘Ziyal’ go to rest, though her spirit is alive and well. In many ways my ‘Illuvia’ project represents the merge and further evolution of ‘Alveol’ and ‘Ziyal’, with both energies dancing together, framed within one name instead of two.
The earliest works from ‘Ziyal’ were gathered up in a retrospective compilation that at last ended up with the trustworthy and immensely prolific ‘Omni Music’ label. Peak solo moments of the project for me would be the ‘Truth EP‘ and the album ‘No World But You‘, both released in collaboration with another musical ally of mine: Kian Asamoah, on his exceptional record label ‘Noisy Meditation‘.
[“eternell” is a word that carries the meaning “evighetsblomma” in Swedish; translating to English as “eternity flower”]
Now, we are entering the realm of deep ambient, often in the meditative sphere, though I personally feel that most of my work is too emotional to function as meditation music. Apparently many meditators disagree, since I currently have the largest number of plays via my Insight Timer profile; my presence on the free app, where I share some of my works with a global community of fellow meditators (I meditate daily, but I prefer silence or natural ambient sounds to music). I didn’t have a name for my ambient excursions when I released the first iteration of ‘Waking Music’ – a work consisting of 6 long-form ambient pieces I created while traveling in India. I had named my newly started bandcamp page ‘Eternell’ and I then thought it would be a cool idea to leave this new ambient project nameless and mysterious. After some years I realized that the music had become associated with the name of the page and decided to keep it as the moniker for my most ethereal sonic explorations. (A more expansive description of the history of ‘Eternell’ can be found in the notes to the compilation ‘Beneath an Endless Sky‘)
Some early heartfelt tracks that didn’t quite fit under any other umbrella of mine were eventually collected and compiled into two albums that span different styles. Adjectives like deep, raw and atmospheric seem to apply. The second album ‘Perennial Expansion‘ is warmly recommended by me (it’s a ‘name-your-price’ on bandcamp). Both releases contain tracks I gave up on and left as unfinished – I have noticed that those ‘unfinished’ tracks are often the ones I end up still loving many years after. That is something I am deeply wishing to learn still: to leave my works before I polish them to death. It’s a subtle point, distinguishing the crest of the creative wave and letting go right there.
It was one of the darker times in my life, a year or two after the dissolution of ‘Alveol’ and ‘Ziyal’. Late one night I found myself opening a new music session, and six or seven hours later when I collapsed in bed, an almost finished mix of ‘Illuvia (Exaltation)‘ had materialized. My well practiced self-criticism was at an all-time high, and this track was for whatever reason judged as ‘too much of everything’, though I did feel that something new had been born. In the coming weeks and months I kept on creating music without having a name for it, but knowing it was a new chapter for me. When the time came to send demos, several labels were interested with the vision of a vinyl release hovering in the distance, and each time it turned out to be a mirage. After the third attempt fell through, I resigned to master and self-release the album, concluding that it was probably flawed. The ‘Illuvia (Exaltation)’ track was added to the album at the very final stages, and it wasn’t until well after the release that I could again consciously connect with the expansive vision that I had tapped into that first night.
A few acknowledgements I wish to make: all tracks on the Ayala EP except ‘Melicent (Forever J.)’ were born under my ‘Ziyal’ period, as was ‘Just Smile’ – a sketch originally made for an MC I performed together with in the UK once, but these tracks all got stuck with labels, who never released them so they ended up slipping out under ‘Illuvia’ instead. As for the future, that first ‘Illuvia’ track that was born during one night may still be the best representative of the direction I hope to continue exploring, though I don’t want to impose any genre restrictions on the project. It will continue to be a vessel for everything that could be labeled atmospheric dance music (and beyond…).
After nearly two decades with the computer as my main tool in music-making I had become aware of a growing desire to move the ‘musical center’ back into my body (I started out with music as a drummer) by exploring free acoustic improvisations, mainly employing piano, guitar and my voice. I began recording some of them, and eventually selected recordings became foundations for a new generation of ambient soundscapes. Over the course of my life I have also gathered up a small pile of notebooks with pages after pages of lyrical song ideas (some of which might be properly recorded and shared in a bright version of the future), and legions of instrumental sketches that didn’t feel like they had a home among my current artistic outlets, with some feeling worthy of an existence outside of my personal archives. The evolution of these multiple streams of inspiration eventually led me to begin releasing music under my given name, the debut being ‘Dreaming the Night Sky‘ released in early 2018. I feel like I’m still just in the beginning stages of exploring what in time might become my main artistic focus. It does feel exciting for me to have this outlet established for things more personal and without any of the definitions that surround my other aliases.
Abraço de Vapor
I had semi-promised myself to not take on any more monikers (4 active aliases is more than enough to keep a (wo)man busy!), though at the end of the day it doesn’t seem like these decisions are mine to make. When ‘Nocturn I’ unfolded across 70+ minutes out of a 12 year old nighttime field recording made in India, as a faint (and flawed) reflection of a timeless vision of an inner state that is simultaneously the softest embrace and the deepest ecstasy, I felt that it didn’t quite fit with any of my previously used aliases. And it did arrive with a new name, so I acquiesced, and look forward to giving form to the continuation of this project, as I can already sense a new chapter shaping within me.
Before we proceed to the various aspects of your artistry, I’d like to start with your most recent endeavor, the multidimensional imprint consolidating all your creative prowess under the same umbrella. I’ve had the privilege to preview the draft version of the first LILA installment (‘Nocturn I-V‘) and I was literally stunned. Now already on the fourth release, they are all published in CD format with bespoke artwork and are readily available from your label’s bandcamp, as well as the official store here.
Is LILA an abbreviation; What does it stand for? How did the idea of this new label emerge, and how would you describe the ethos and vision of LILA? Are there plans for future releases to be available also on vinyl?
‘LILA’ लीला was born as a response to a desire of giving my music and self-released collaborations a beautiful and somewhat lasting home in this world of impermanence. My musical creations feel like children and no matter how difficult the growing-up phase was, I love them and cannot let them go until I know they have been cared for in all aspects of their life-cycle. I have been self-releasing music for years, but I never really made a clear statement or was very proactive about it. So after years of the idea brewing in my mind, when ‘Nocturn’ was taking shape, I knew that the time had come and that it was to be the inaugural release.
Another purpose with having a defined label as a separate entity is for me to be able to pay the people I collaborate with, and actually a big part of the motivation behind this move is my desire to get a better hold of the business aspect of my work. Creating the music has always been the easy part for me, while presenting it to the world and making some kind of living from it continues to be the challenge I am up against. Starting LILA लीला represents my decision to become proficient in the external aspects of being an artist in this day and age, taking on those roles that were traditionally fulfilled by the record labels. Since I mostly worked with single-handedly run, passion project labels, I could never really expect them to fulfill those for me – and the truth is that deep down, I prefer to feel independent in all aspects of my artistry, even though that path seems to also involve a substantial amount of work and discomfort for me.
Of course, only us beloved music nerds really care about record labels and the important function they still have in today’s digital world. Most listeners would never have any interest in knowing what label released their favorite albums, and I think that is as it should be; record labels are background structures, and that is exactly the case with LILA लीला as well. It shall remain in the background, while I hopefully learn to put my music out there more effectively using this new framework.
The name is a Sanskrit word, and since I find its written form so beautiful, I decided to include both the English transliteration and the original Sanskrit in the name itself (yes, I clearly am one to complicate things and avoid the easy road – not so much by choice as by nature, it seems). This four letter word describes the nature of the entire manifest aspect of creation, as what can be translated as ‘divine play’ – pointing both at the origin and the purpose of what we experience as our physical existence, as well as that of the entire Universe. I always found profound resonance with this description.
My ‘LILA’ is also an acronym, and actually a limitless one; I keep discovering additional sub-levels under each letter. Creating music is for me like world-building, and the structure to house worlds naturally has to be quite spacious, or even better, unlimited, so therefore I will forever leave this open-ended. In my imagination I see an evolved website with a beautiful tree growing branches out of each of the four letters, each having multiple smaller branches (and perhaps there will even be sub-acronyms revealed within the acronym :D) but for now let’s state that the first L stands for ‘Letters from the Edge’ and that the A stands for ‘Audela’, and that the latter will be the main home for my Eternell project from now on (I cannot yet define the former clearly enough for a description, but the ‘Hallow Under’ album was put out as the first release from L.F.T.E., and there will surely be many more to follow that together will reveal its unique definition and place within the whole).
Regarding vinyl releases, I definitely want to, and will open that door as soon as it makes sense to do so. While it may be a while until I have the financial stability needed, I aim to utilize bandcamp’s vinyl-campaign option: basically, if I succeed in gathering up 250 buyers for a vinyl edition, they will press and distribute the records, and if we don’t reach that target no records get pressed, which means no financial loss on my part (though possibly an emotional one). I’m at the point now where I begin to feel confident enough to try out this option for the next release that would be suitable for the analog format, and in the meantime I’m working on growing my audience and getting more efficient in communicating about my work. And I would of course love to eventually re-issue some key albums that have not yet received a vinyl pressing, such as Purl’s ‘Stillpoint’ and Illuvia’s debut – this is definitely on the horizon, and hopefully not too far away from here.
I have an obsession with artwork and record sleeves. Whether they are hand-made or mass-produced, meticulously arranged or spontaneously created, I firmly believe in a strong visual identity, for without it an artist and his work might be portrayed differently. I’ve noticed that most of your album covers focus on natural scenery and landscape painting as a subject matter, visually demonstrating an interest in portraying nature, which complements the musical narrative.
Is it a conscious effort to represent or replicate the obvious beauty, to create these depictions to study and explore various aesthetic elements, like light, color, and texture? Or do you use scenes of nature as a way to tell a story, illustrate an idea, or conceptualize a metaphor?
Some covers are based on your own designs/photography and you do credit the graphic designers/illustrators in the release notes. Are you always directly involved in the process? Do you have a favourite collaborator, who can translate your musical perception into a visual form?
I still remember the wonder of exploring my parents’ vinyl collection as a young child and getting lost in some of the immersive artworks. A favorite that I remember so clearly is Jean Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygène’, with a painting of the Earth with the skin peeling off, revealing a human skull inside. I would stare at it while listening to the music, then turn to the back side to admire the young handsome artist and his focused, yet dreamy eyes.
So yes, I share your love for artworks and record sleeves, and it’s been an absolute privilege to collaborate with some of the labels and visual artists whose works I have admired and been inspired by for so long. There are too many to mention, but Noah Mc Donald (Keep Adding), who created the visual representation of my releases on ‘A Strangely Isolated Place’, Dan Anthon (Danthon) whose photographs perfectly captured the mood of the two ‘Purl’ albums to come out from ‘Silent Season’, Brian Young, a friend and fellow music lover, who left this world behind not long after our last collaboration (on Purl’s ‘Violante (lost in a dream)’ released on ‘Archives’) and Russell Stephenson, my painter friend from Texas whose elemental paintings I hope will continue to adorn my albums for years to come. Then there is my friend Anton (endlesstrains), who I collaborate with both visually as well as musically (our debut record is one of my all time favorites among my works), and lastly, my artistic ally Alexander Lux, who designed my LILA लीला logos (yes, there are several: four different ones to be exact), created the artworks for Purl’s ‘Sky Trilogy’, and who consistently lends his unconditional support to the visual aspects of my work while the two of us also continue to nurture a musical collaboration that stretches beyond time and space, which I cannot wait to share with the world!
I feel that what I’m trying to express in my music is something that some would call abstract, others (like me) would call spiritual, and the closest I come to experience those feelings and states in my waking life has mainly been when immersed in what we can call natural scenery: landscapes shaped by elements rather than the hands and minds of men (I remember emphasizing that the world of man is a part of nature in an interview with Joachim Spieth – a statement I stand by). But the beauty I experience in those moments is never just of the physical world – there is something untouchable that comes through to me, and that ineffable beauty of life also comes through in cities, but I believe it is more often overlooked in those more hectic environments that are so dense with things that continuously trigger new thoughts. There is definitely something life-changing about even a single moment of true stillness – the complete silence of the mind allows for something very delicate about our existence to be revealed. This is a way of hinting at what I attempt to give voice to in my work, and I find that certain visual artists in my view pursue a similar goal: not by depicting exactly how things appear, but attempting to capture and bring forth that untouchable magic so often found in the natural landscapes, in pieces of sky, how the light falls on clouds, on oceans or across fields. I believe that is the reason I often gravitate towards those types of artworks for my music albums, but sometimes I also desire to break away from that and explore entirely new expressions. Contrast is essential to keep evolving.
I always read religiously the liner notes of every release; another fine and intricate detail, a ‘lost art’ which brings back fond childhood memories. Sadly they are often neglected or considered redundant in electronic music. You are an artist, who meticulously supplements your music with extended notes, credits and sometimes poem verses, epigrams or intimate thoughts.
Of course, music should do the talking, but do you agree that some pieces of art call for an extended narrative?
Yes, absolutely. Though I understand and fully respect artists who like to keep it simple and quiet – perhaps leaving the listener more unbiased in going into the musical experience. I usually have way too many thoughts and still unexpressed feelings swirling around even after the completion of an album, so it often feels better for me if I share something in writing; sometimes a poem, the retelling of a related dream, or a more detailed look into the process that culminated in the release. The listeners who just want the music can easily skip the notes and dive into the sounds, and those dear-hearted music nerds who (like us) care for any surrounding detail that might add to or further expand our understanding of the context and process involved in the creation of an album that we love intimately, well, I am happy to leave something there for us when it feels called for (and as you noted, it often does :).
The merit of music writing is to live and breathe through various shades of shifting interpretations, so the listener can conjure his own imagery and vision. I am an enthusiast of thought-provoking track/album titles, apparently one of my many compulsions. I delve into the semantics trying to deduce and identify hidden messages, themes or allusions that might or might not be there. Like photographs, individual chapters of a book or torn pages from a diary, song titles sometimes create streams of thought that might stray into parallel narratives and ‘Sliding Doors’ type of endings.
Walk us through the process of selecting the titles. Do you have a specific concept in mind before you start writing the music, or do they take shape, meaning and form during the writing process?
I love the way you frame this. Indeed, there is an interesting interplay with choosing a particular title for a particular track, and ideally the combination of the two will create more potential interpretations – paths into what you call ‘parallel narratives’.
While I love it when the perfect titles fall down from the sky, for some tracks and albums I end up spending a lot of time on this. The essence of my process is that I try to set the title of a work as early as possible in the creative process, and for the most part, that happens when I first choose to save a project from my DAW. I have noticed that the title that I give the track at that point will in some way color and influence all that comes after, so it feels like it matters quite a lot. Sometimes that feeling of importance has me sitting there for a long time, typing in different titles and feeling them out before finally settling somewhere and saving the file.
Then there is the overarching story that I feel is best elusively glimpsed; open-ended, hinted at from the sequence of titles as parts of a particularly titled album – all of them having to feel appropriate and fitting individually, while also feeling harmonious within the larger narrative and imagery suggested by the album title. While this is mostly a fun puzzle to solve, there are occasions when a certain track will seem impossible to title appropriately, making me wish to either go with the mysterious “untitled”, give it an arbitrary number, or perhaps go all in ‘Aphex Twin’ with a long mathematical equation or something like that. Though I do tend to lean towards the elegant and poetic rather than indulging in experimentation these days, and I always prefer staying connected to the larger context.
As a general stance I’d say that the more possible interpretations that titles (and lyrics) allow for, the better – as long as they still say what you want them to say. By being generous with room for different views, you allow more ways that your art may be experienced. And then, there is of course a time and a place when the most direct and non-ambiguous communication should be prioritized – there is definitely a time to speak your truth as clearly and succinctly as you can.
drum & bass x ambient musical cultures
As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, this is the final chapter (well, at least for the foreseeable future) of my ongoing quest to trace those gossamer links between ambient and drum & bass, two genres which seem polar opposites, but I’d always argue that there are strong common threads both technically and emotionally.
The 90s left an indelible print to the evolution of electronic music and I believe anyone who grew up listening to electronic music in the 90’s has an attachment to bass music and its offshoots somewhere along their musical tree. Naturally, as a producer of both genres, you are the most apt person to unveil the solution to my predicament and this is of course one of the reasons your productions have had such a strong appeal to me.
As you know, your views on the connections between these genres served as very timely encouragement for me just when I was wondering about the sanity of my attempt to bridge the worlds of long-form ambient and jungle in the brave and flawed excursion that is ‘Nocturn I‘. There are sensitive moments in the creative process, moments where I suddenly find myself questioning the entire endeavor (‘perhaps I’ve just been mistaken about the whole idea’), and I’m sure most artists pass through those dreadful moments, especially when going into new territory. In exactly such a moment, your feedback on this track came as a confirmation that I was onto something with this exploration, and I will always be grateful for that as I now feel the importance of this work passing through my mind and out through my hands… and of me letting it go even though I perceived it as flawed. As I often remind myself: art without flaws is uninteresting and unmoving – we are humans, not machines (not yet at least :P).
Instead of trying to chisel out this connection between ambient and drum & bass in words, I think I’ll try to further my research in uncovering it through sound, and if any of my works reveal new insight in the matter, I will leave it to your eloquence to describe it in words (haha, I found myself an easy way out of that one didn’t I :D).
The media format
There is a common misconception that unless pressed on vinyl, music is of second-rate quality or even disposable.
Why did you eventually decide on the transition to physical products and what are your thoughts on the alleged vinyl resurgence and the importance (or non-importance) of the musical format?
Actually, my first ever proper music release (beyond passing on CDr-s to friends) was a self-funded and self-released vinyl record – an album co-produced with one of my oldest friends that still has a presence in my life today (Markus, if you ever read this: Toady Blank 4-ever!). And my second proper release, ‘Ground‘ by ‘Purl’, was also pressed to wax on a run of 10” records, which remained pretty much unsold until most of them were sadly lost, many years down the road. The digital releases that happened around this time in my career were on more or less established net-labels, with free downloads from their own servers or archive.org. The first ‘Purl’ release to reach a wider audience was ‘A Quiet Awakening’ on ‘Dewtone Recordings’, a purely digital imprint run by my long-time friend Dustin Morris, someone who certainly affected my views on the full validity of the digital format. He always held up the highest standards for all aspects of a release – always going the distance with me until we were both truly satisfied with the result. Dustin also mirrored and validated the side of me that would never be satisfied with leaving a work as finished knowing that it still could be improved upon (a side of me that continues to be both an asset and a liability, as it sometimes blinds me to the beauty of imperfections, and the necessity of viewing them as an integral part of one’s work and being). Letting go has always been the biggest challenge for me, and the number of albums I’ve been able to complete amazes me, knowing how hard it is for me to reach the point where I am satisfied, or at least clear enough that I will not able to reach further with a certain project and simply have to let it go. I’m definitely guilty of overworking things, and my definite aim is to learn to leave off a bit earlier, before scrubbing away too much on all those uncomfortable ‘flaws’ that make things feel more real.
I definitely agree with you that quality is quality regardless of format. However, I still find vinyl magical. While the digital universe is no less of a mind-blowing mystery to me, there is just something humanly touching about the fact that the vibrations of the music are actually engraved into a physical object, and that a delicately balanced diamond needle then can read and transmit the vibrations to where they are translated into an electrical signal and then back into sound… well, isn’t that just the coolest thing?!.. haha. And somehow I can connect to the idea of that analog process more than to that even vaster mystery of the limitless language of the invisible ones and zeros and all the mind-blowing beautiful stuff we continue to create with tools, mostly without ever coming close to understanding how they work. That seems to somehow be part of the essence of being human; suspended between infinite mysteries both in the micro and macro, and doing an amazing balancing act in the middle without knowing what anything rests on, or where anything is headed.
If it’s all too overwhelming and you need somewhere to start, here’s a selection (with links to preview/purchase) of my top-10 solo Ludvig Cimbrelius releases in chronological order.
I have contemplated a lot in order to scale down the list and include most of Ludvig’s aliases. I am confident that it would deviate wildly from Ludvig’s own recommendations, but that’s the beauty of arbitrary lists no one has asked for 😊.
A Window to Eternity
‘A Window to Eternity’ is one of your website’s mantras with multiple meanings/readings that has resonated deeply with me. While doing my research for this feature, I stumbled upon ‘Insight Timer,’ an app for sleep, stress and anxiety relief. You actively support the initiative, contributing some of your meditative works. Tell us a bit more about your role and the nurturing of a meditation practice.
Yes, as I mentioned earlier in relation to my ‘Eternell’ moniker, the free ‘Insight Timer’ app is a hub for a global community of meditators, and I have a publisher page there on which I share some of my works that seem suitable for purposes of relaxation, healing, meditation and other related practices such as yoga and breathwork. Personally I have nurtured a daily meditation practice since my troubled teenage years, when my bouts with panic-anxiety and depression indicated that I needed to access some kind of inner support. I remember learning about meditation mainly through books, and after some time of practicing I understood through experience that this was a practice that had purely positive effects. I don’t know where I’d be without it, and it is something I recommend to anyone who is searching for means to achieve greater stability and accessing more peace and joy in their life.
Regarding that sentence appearing on my website and other places (and by the way, I wish to find the time and resources to rebuild that website to present a more comprehensive picture of my artistry), it has been with me for a long time. As with anything that truly touches the heart of one’s being, putting words to what music is to me and what I’m trying to explore with it is not easy. I have moved through a few ways of wording it, but ‘A Window to Eternity’ seems to stay with me as a tagline, or mantra as you say. It describes what music is to me in the moments when I am purely focused, and it is like the music opens a window that is always there. What is perceived through that window is something that is not of this world and cannot be expressed in any language, though music is the one that has come closest for me.
Forthcoming projects – A glimpse inside Ludvig’s future universe
While I often take many years to finish projects, I also rarely have less than 10 releases in progress simultaneously (and sometimes closer to 20… yes, it is crazy and I wish I had a more simple and streamlined process, but it always ends up this way no matter what I do). What is most clearly visible on the horizon now are more releases that will come out under my given name, exploring several different musical directions (I don’t want to give away details about them as I prefer people to come in without preconceived ideas). There are solo releases from ‘Purl’ in the works, and the musical collaboration mentioned earlier between me and Alexander Lux also belongs in that sphere of my first born alias. I’m also looking forward to a long awaited return of my cherished collaboration with Daljit Kundi (aka Sinus) – our first release as ‘Purl & Sinus’ was delayed for over 3 years, yet still succeeded in finding a home in many ambient lovers’ hearts, and we will always continue our mission to bring forth pure sounds from the place where our inner worlds are joined. And through another deep inner connection with another close friend, Drew Sullivan (aka ‘Slow Dancing Society’), a new ‘Hallow Under’ album is slowly and gently underway – we took four years with our first one, and I prefer letting the process with every album be timeless, allowing the music the time it needs to mature. And lastly I would like to mention a possible collaboration with one of my all-time favorite music artists (whom you have interviewed), a work very much still in the embryonic stages, waiting for the right conditions to begin the growing process that would lead to the inevitable joys and pains of birth.
One very important thought
As is so efficiently expressed in an inscription on a temple of your homeland: ‘know thyself’. One day, there will be no more days, and this precious world of ours will be nothing but dust. However, something that is here now will also be here then, and it will be exactly the same – untouched. Find that which has remained unchanged during your entire life – that which has never and can never leave you – and you will have found your home; the only true safety there is in this world.
I’ve been maintaining this blog for a decade now and I can tell from the very first correspondence with my prospective guests if an interview/feature is going to take place or if it is doomed to be eventually abandoned or shelved. From the day I first contacted Ludvig to the moment this post was published, it’s been more than a year. Although there are no deadlines (it’s a one-man show, remember?) factors like timing and relevance are always under consideration. I am happy though that we both persevered and I wouldn’t mind waiting for another year (or a thousand autumns) if needed. Over the course of time I have learned to decouple the person from their trade; be it music, cinema, literature, sports etc. so it’s not that common (and take my word) to meet a person as elegant, modest and eloquent as Ludvig, whose artistic vision resonates so profoundly with me.
This feature, like a living organism, has changed shape, form, meaning and purpose several times; large segments of my discussion with Ludvig have been left out as I had to draw the line somewhere, but I’m really content with the final cut. And if you made it this far – congratulations – here’s a far-fetched analogy as an afterword:
I can draw various parallels between Ludvig’s artistic journey and the poem ‘Ithaca’, an allegory of Homer’s Odyssey, written by prominent Greek poet K. Kavafis (an English translation by Edmund Keeley can be found here). Deviating from Odyssey’s main theme, which is Odysseus’ 10-year journey back to his homeland Ithaca as a result of divine punishment for hubris and immoral behaviour after the fall of Troy, Kavafis’ interpretation signifies the importance of the journey of life, which eclipses the ultimate purpose, extending Ithaca as a metaphor to various ideas. Odysseus’ monsters and perils are Ludvig’s challenges; Ludvig’s music is Odysseus’ intelligence, charm and wits to overcome those challenges and obstacles. Odysseus descended to the underworld (Nekyia) to seek for answers and reconciliation, Ludvig searches for meaning, inner peace in the virtual realm of notes, colours and tones. Ithaca is Odysseus’ final destination, LILA is Ludvig’s.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
I do love the idea of seeing this life as a journey home, and the hubris might be the (vain) attempt to find or create happiness in a world ruled by time – certainly that attempt leads to meeting with endless challenges, though in my view those challenges are perhaps more a natural consequence rather than a “punishment from the gods”, and as I see it, we ARE the divine, breaking new ground, rather than being here to prove ourselves. But analogies are naturally flawed anyway, so no need to find one that fits perfectly 🙂
[The feature’s cover photo was taken on a cloudy autumn day last year, somewhere in the Greek midlands].
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