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It's been over seven years since Kristoffer Gildenlöw left Pain of Salvation after relocating from Sweden to Holland although it seems he'll forever be associated with his role as bassist in said band. It's the hang-up of many a musician after departing from a successful act where they're seemingly resigned in the annals of music history to be perennially referred to as an ex-member of such and such band. That's in no small way a negative association, of course, as Pain of Salvation were, and continue to be, one of the prog scene's most innovative and daringly bold bands (albeit Kristoffer's brother, Daniel, remains the sole original member). However, with the release of 'Rust', Kristoffer's debut solo album, he's set to prove himself autonomously as an innovatively creative force. 'Rust', although I'd be misconstruing its significance, could be regarded as an ironic title in one sense as there's nothing rusty about Kristoffer's musicality, despite the six year timespan it's taken for the album to come to fruition. He's worked prolifically as a recorded and live session player during that time so rusty he most certainly isn't. And the evidence is here in the music on 'Rust'. Originally issued as a nine-track limited vinyl edition in 2012, this year sees the album debut on CD with two extra songs that wouldn't fit on the confines of its initial format. Its wider availability has apparently transpired due to the great reception of the vinyl version. And thank fuck it's seen the light of day as this is truly sublime music that deserves to be experienced by a much wider audience.

Although I commented Kristoffer's set to prove himself autonomously, with over twenty guest musicians contributing to 'Rust', it could be regarded as something of an ensemble effort. Of particular note, Within Temptation guitarist Ruud Jolie provides acoustic & electric guitars and mandolin, and ex-Pain of Salvation keyboardist Fredrik Hermansson (there y'go, I'm guilty of the ex-tagging too!) lends his piano and electric piano talents. A whole array of vocalists are credited as guest performers although it's Kristoffer himself whose singing carries the album. Smooth-toned and with a captivating fragility in his voice, he accentuates the raw emotions inherent in the music. And it's music that adheres to a pretty laid-back vibe, occasionally threatening to explode into rockier territory but, overall, retaining a general restraint throughout. Although the album's seemingly rooted in subtlety on the surface, layered instrumentations and vocal deliveries are rich with emotive expression so, in essence, it's actually all about subtle complexity. And, by that, I mean complexity and profundity in the range of emotions that Kristoffer's able to convey through his songwriting, its execution, and the wonderfully warm-sounding production. And jeez, that man knows how to use a fretless bass to channel his emotions - just check out his beautiful playing towards the end of 'OverWinter'. In fact, just check out any track on the album for an example of pure emotive lucidity as every song is a winner, there's no filler whatsoever. All in all, phenomenal. Let's hope there's not another six year wait for the sophomore instalment in this talented Swede's solo career.
Glassville Records
Review by Mark Holmes
10th June 2013
1) Callout
2) Believe
3) Desire
4) Follow Me Down
5) OverWinter
6) Längtan
7) Heroes
8) Save My Soul
9) Rust
10) Story Ends
11) Living Soil
"Although the album's seemingly rooted in subtlety on the surface, layered instrumentations and vocal deliveries are rich with emotive expression so, in essence, it's actually all about subtle complexity."