HANS APPLEQVIST “Swimming Pool” (Orange Milk)

This is my fourth review out of five in the newest Orange Milk batch, and I think I may have found the star of the show here. I pegged David Kanaga’s excellent Operaism as a paragon of complete composition, framing a song cycle around the idea of a long-form narrative set to music, but Hans Appleqvist has him equaled, if not beat, with Swimming Pool. The Swedish Appleqvist is no stranger to constructing sound around a story, as he’s long arranged for film, dance, and theater, as his digital CV attests (link below). On this tape for Orange Milk, he lets completely loose, structuring an insanely lengthy and detailed work, weaving pieces in and out of each other until the whole thing resembles an ouroboros or a Gordian knot. Swimming Pool. What secrets are you hiding from us?

The tone throughout is downright Lynchian, and I keep wondering if there’s a Mulholland Drive–esque riddle to parse within the album’s twists and turns. Whatever the underlying concept, Swimming Pool is a fully immersive experience from front to back, trading fully cinematic passages back and forth with ferocious electronic pulses, pop- and R&B-inflected tunes, abstract experimentation, modern classical, and even horror-inflected industrial workouts. Heavily affected spoken word pieces appear occasionally, and the album’s centerpiece, the almost ten-minute “We Touch We Part We Tear Up” could be twice as long and equally attention-grabbing. It’s an entire suite within itself and might be the best thing put to an Orange Milk tape this fiscal quarter.

The Rankin-designed cover, always an amazing element to any release from the label, depicts two lovers in an infinity pool, observed perhaps by a hovering ball, straight out of The Prisoner, reflecting a floating piano and a single-tear emoji. Isn’t that just the Lynchiest? Weird, voyeuristic intimacy cut with surreal or abstract imagery. The story begins here, but it’s far from its conclusion. Who are these people? What’s about to happen to them? It’s anyone’s guess, but the mood is right for intrigue.

--Ryan Masteller