On the artwork for Swedish artist Merely‘s upcoming third album, Hatching the Egg (out Friday on YEAR0001), a red-black background object is rendered so blurrily it’s indiscernible. The music that Kristina Florell makes as Merely has precisely the opposite charm: her redolent dream pop is of a high-definition caliber, one that employs ambient sounds for lucidity rather than for fog. Hatching the Egg‘s second track, “Mystery Garden,” which was released late last week, is perhaps the album’s high-water mark.
Florell’s calming, monotonous, beautiful voice makes a clear, unvarnished appearance pretty much the moment “Mystery Garden” begins. Ambient synths and whole-note pianos guide her voice. A percussive track clicks and flitters in the wind between moments of massive but quickly dissipating bass drums. Every element of “Mystery Garden” other than Florell’s voice is synthetic, and her coalescing of the electronic with the natural mimics the track’s titular enigmatic arrangement of plant life. An aura as restful and meditative as that of New Age music and as experimental and left-field as that of modular synth music results.
“‘Mystery Garden’ may walk you into the unknown,” Florell says in a press release, further amplifying her deliberate contrast between the tangible and the abstract. “A great source to understand and feel the power of music,” she continues, “is trying to be open to the non-literal. I always try to explore that freedom when I create.” She wraps up her sentiment neatly: “What is a ‘meaning’ really? I prefer not to describe my art that way.” She shouldn’t need to: “Mystery Garden” and Hatching the Egg speak for themselves, even if the images covering them lack definition.