By Blake Parker
The album Sketches, collaboratively created by Sjors Mans, Harrison Mountan, Dominique Charpentier, Joakim Alfvén, and Klangriket, is a diverse journey through a variety of musical voices. Each artist offers exactly two tracks to Sketches, and the composition of each individual song, as well as the album as a whole, provides a truly pleasant listening experience.
Being a pianist myself, the words of Harrison Mountan about the album strike me as particularly true – “There is nothing quite like sitting down at the piano and playing. Just playing. There is this weird place you get to where the magic starts to happen.” I am lucky to say that I have personally experienced that magic, and it is a beautiful and enigmatic thing. However, what Sketches challenges us to consider is that this particular moment of magic – this weird place that is attainable through music – must be slightly different from person to person. It is this very idea that makes Sketches the gorgeous work of musical art that it is.
Ask any musician, and they’ll likely tell you about the powerful effects that are produced by communing with other musicians. The opportunity to expand oneself creatively by spending time with other musicians is a distinct and wonderful feeling, and one that requires humility, vulnerability, and open-mindedness. When Sketches was in its first stages, many of the artists didn’t know each other. Nevertheless, by the end of the process it is sure they gained new friendships and new musical partners in each other.
Sketches, when listening to it as a complete work of art rather than a sectioned collection, evokes a succinct yet colorful emotion of humanity; that is to say it is at once relatable and complex, flawed and beautiful, and altogether honest. The tracks of course differ greatly, but in so doing create an otherwise impossible story for a single artist to tell. Thus, the endeavors of Sketches are refreshing, nuanced, and worth every moment of listening.