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Album Review: Affection & Absence EP
Carl Liungman
Cover image of the album Affection & Absence EP by Carl Liungman
Affection & Absence EP
Carl Liungman
2023 / Caliu Piano
21 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Affection & Absence is the third album from Swedish pianist/composer Carl Liungman, following his 2020 debut, Born, and his 2022 follow-up, Shine. The four original piano solos on the EP are even more personal and intimate than Liungman's previous albums and present a compelling blend of classical, jazz, new age and pop influences that make his musical voice unique. Liungman describes the album as "an instrumental story telling about the hardships of love and intimacy. Examination of absence and presence." Unlike his previous studio-recorded albums, Affection & Absence was recorded on a Schimmel upright piano in Carl's home in the countryside of southern Sweden. Along with his recordings, Carl Liungman has created chamber, jazz and pop music for theater, short films, art exhibitions and poetry projects. Diverse musical influences include Arvo Pärt, John Legend, Max Richter, Hans Zimmer and Keith Jarrett.

Affection & Absence begins with "Affection," an almost eight-minute exploration of the many feelings and emotions we all experience in romantic/love relationships. From buoyant highs to quiet intimacy to passion to pensive and reflective, they all flow and evolve seamlessly in the music, much like they do in life. The left hand plays a rhythmic pattern throughout the piece that keeps it fairly grounded, but the right hand feels very free and improvised - dancing on a cloud one minute, calming the next and revealing heartfelt emotion throughout. It's an amazing and very effective piece of music! "Dancer" seems to reach inward to express the deepest of emotions without fear or reservation, reflecting on a relationship at its very best when revealing your true self feels natural and easy - poignant as well as gorgeous! "Night" begins in a way that is very still and intimate. It also feels very free and honest, expressed in a spare jazz style that has a touch of the blues here and there. Passion builds near the end of the piece and then fades away. "Disappear" is even more sparse and minimal, describing the emptiness experienced when a beloved goes away - either temporarily or permanently. It amazes me how much emotion flows through this piece, as it is a progression of seemingly random (of course they are not random!) chords and chord changes that are every bit as effective as a melody or lyrics in conveying the painful emotions of loss and wondering if you will ever feel completely whole again.

Affection & Absence is quite an emotional listening experience, and Carl Liungman expresses those emotions very effectively! The EP is available from Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes as well as streaming sites including Spotify. Recommended!
May 6, 2023
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