Lights & Motion – Chronicle [Deep Elm]

“Cinematic” is an adjective we see being applied to more music than ever before, perhaps to the point of overuse.  But there simply is no other word that better describes the music of Lights & Motion, the amazing solo project of Christoffer Franzen who is the conceptualizer, composer, musician, and recording engineer behind it’s every sound. From the chrysalis of the lonely studio in Gothenburg, Sweden that he inhabits late into the night, another incandescent beauty has emerged in the form of his third full length album, Chronicle.

“The goal with my new album, Chronicle, was to take the listener on a emotional journey that ebbs and flows, and to try and create a very panoramic / widescreen experience, both sonically and compositionally.  Given my lifelong passion for everything cinema, it felt natural to take another step towards that widescreen, big canvas sound, while still maintaining the various elements and components of Lights & Motion’s trademark sound.” 

Franzen’s passion for the effusively cinematic, and his ability to deliver it, is not exactly a well kept secret. His music has already been picked up for a remarkable number of Hollywood film trailers, television spots and other promotional campaigns, most notably the commercial Google ran during the 2014 Oscars telecast which was seen & heard by millions. But, without a doubt Chronicle is the most accomplished and fully realized expression of Lights & Motion to date, one which embraces everything that came before it while scaling greater heights and demonstrating Franzen’s maturation in all aspects of music making.

The other components of Lights & Motion’s “trademark sound” which Franzen refers to above include post rock of the lyrical, melodic variety (think – yes I am going to say it – Explosions in the Sky) and dream pop (reference Coldplay or M83).  With Chronicle, Franzen fuses these components with the compositional dimension into one cohesive whole. The shimmering guitars and power chords that graced Reanimation are back as are the glowing tones and airy vocals of Save Your Heart, but they are folded into the narrative, filmic composition style that Franzen showcased in his Unreleased (Music for TV & Film) Vol. 1. 

The fact that it all flows so seamlessly and naturally is a testimony to Franzen’s growth as a composer and arranger. Chronicle feels very lean and assured from the gentlest solo piano passages to the most explosive crescendos, evidencing tremendous attention to detail in every instrument and treatment that was used.  The album is book-ended by a pair of tracks that embody all of these aesthetics beautifully, the opener ‘Fireflies’ and the closer ‘The Spectacular Quiet’, and is held up in the middle by the drive and swagger of ‘Reborn’. In between these, Franzen offers a number of great new songs such as ‘Antlers’ and ‘Particle Storm’ and quiet interludes in the form of ‘Northern Lights’ and ‘Paper Wings’. Franzen is also becoming a more efficient musical storyteller as each track feels completely fleshed out, yet none of them require more than 5 minutes and change to complete a full trajectory.

Even if one prefers minimalism in film, almost all of us at least occasionally enjoy the wonder and exhilaration of bigger than life movies, but preferably in hands of those who really know how to architect and deliver the big moments – the Christopher Nolans and Peter Jacksons of the film-making world.  Making music with that sort of zeitgeist is what Lights & Motion sets out to do and that is exactly what Chronicle delivers. Grab a tub of popcorn, a tall soda, and a pair of 3D glasses and take the journey for yourself.

Order a copy of Chronicle

Listen to ‘Fireflies’

 ‘The Spectacular Quiet’ official video – Directed by Fraser West