Kristoffer Gildenlow’s sophomore effort as a solo artist, The Rain, is a melancholic and emotional journey that touches on a variety of themes, among them aging, loss, depression, and dementia. Kristoffer is perhaps best known for his exceptional bass work with his brother, Daniel Gildenlow, on several of Pain Of Salvation’s best albums (Entropia through BE), but has spent the last 10 years as both a session artist and a solo musician. His latest release is a heartbreaking concept album that looks into the heart and mind of a person who is losing his mind to dementia: Alzheimer’s, to be specific. Kristoffer uses this story as a vessel to discuss challenging, existential topics regarding life and meaning, and the result is a satisfying and melancholy piece of art.
The album opener, ‘After The Rain, Pt.II’ sets the scene for the rest of the album with a dark and brooding verse, with slight vocal distortion on Gildenlow’s soft croons. The intro song is coincidentally one of my favorites on the album. The next song is a lovely duet with violinist Anne Bakker called ‘Holding On, Pt.I’. The combination of their vocals, with the backdrop of a lovely bed of string instruments, makes this one of the standout tracks on the album. One of my favorites on the album, ‘Peripheral Memory,’ will (and forgive the comparison, Kristoffer) definitely remind the listener of a Pain of Salvation instrumental, with a repeating string and band motif that increases in urgency with each repetition.
The Rain is a musically subdued album, for the most part. Most of the songs feature light arrangement, with Gildenlow’s soft but expressive voice guiding us through an individual’s painful journey. The strength of The Rain is that it’s expressive without being too flashy, it’s complex without sounding muddled, and it’s emotional without being unlistenably dramatic. Kristoffer has enjoyed a solid career through Pain of Salvation and as a session musician to a variety of artists, but with Rust and now The Rain, Kristoffer is proving himself as a competent musical force and an artist to keep an eye on for the future.