I first encountered Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel following the 2016 release of her dazzling tune, Familiar. It was all minimalist piano, melodic strings (love those cellos) and an incredible combination of voices. A very eventful four years later, Agnes Obel reappeared on my radar..
Released in late-February, Myopia was one of the early 2020 releases, which affords it a slightly different place in my consciousness. It was a commuting album for me, when commuting was still a thing. I recall those dark February mornings, waiting on busy railway platforms for a train that was invariable late whilst being buffeted by the icy north winds. Myopia took me to a different, less mundane, place. It was one of my commuting albums when commuting was cancelled.
My God, it is such a thing of beauty. It is a spectral, fragile, porcelain-like work of art. And now, looking back at the fag-end days of last winter, it is such a fitting soundtrack. It evokes images of misty, glacial places, of long dark nights. You just know that, before long, some of these pieces will end up soundtracking a super-hip Scandi Noir crime drama screened by BBC4. And that’s okay.
Obel’s gorgeous voice intertwines and blurs with atmospheric strings and beautifully picked piano. The elements blend and mesh perfectly to create a Monet-like landscape. I’m reminded a lot of Kate Bush by Myopia.
In terms of highlights, the album opener, Camera’s Rolling is quite magnificent, with it’s cascading piano chords and icy synths. Title track, Myopia, is a dream-pop delight. But pride of place goes to the superb, choppy pizzicato of Broken Sleep. Again, that cello.
I’m hoping it’s not going to be another four years before another Agnes Obel album emerges. Just as I’m hoping for a less eventful next four years in general terms. And to have the opportunity to listen to music like this on cold, windy railway platforms again.