Sternpost - Ulrika LP


Label: Concentric Circles

Release Date: July 26th, 2024

Edition of 500.

Every so often an album comes along that, from the very first seconds, fills one with a state of overwhelm and wonder, knowing that one has stumbled upon something truly special. Swedish musician Petter Herbertsson has been steadily recording and releasing albums for over two decades with his group Testbild! (not to mention many other projects under various aliases), but he recorded his so-far career defining statement with Ulrika, an album of almost imperceptible beauty.

Quietly released at the tail end of 2023 by Sweden's Dilettante Productions in an edition of 199 copies, Ulrika unfolds like a flower in the morning sun, slowly opening and unveiling itself to the world. It's hard to believe that Herbertsson plays all of the instruments on the album, as it is an especially sumptuous affair, with guitar, vibraphone, all manner of keys (including some especially lovely harpsichord), melodica, vocals and more all intertwining with each other. In someone else's hands it could easily have come across as stiff and crowded, but here every instrument is given its proper amount of space to breathe, with an organic feeling of warmth that one just wants to sink into.

Although some analogs can be made to '70s era Robert Wyatt, Brian Wilson's lush arrangements or Slapp Happy's charming avant-pop, Herbertsson has done an impeccable job of distilling these influences into his own defined sound. From the production to the compositions, nothing about Ulrika feels modern, the entire affair sounding like it could have been released in 1972 (in the best way possible). Rarely does 21st century music reach the levels of artistic maturity found on Ulrika.

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