Inspired by Jo Dürbeck’s travels around Europe, Europa transforms Dürbeck’s personal memories of 11 different European locations into a gorgeous suite of minimal ambient electronica. The album acts as a kind of abstracted sonic diary, painting the intangibilities and romanticism of memory and travel using sparse yet resonant sound. A simple idea – and one that has produced Jumpel’s most restrained and unified effort to date.
Like many journeys, Europa begins with speculation and tentative steps. In ‘Arles’ and ‘Bern’, the delicate pattering of subtle rhythms is counterbalanced with delicate melodic figures, like light reflecting off water. In ‘Stockholm’, disembodied voices and more forceful rhythms seep into the mix as the album heads towards a beatific plateau of sorts with its central trio of ‘Rom’, ‘Madrid’ and single ‘Edinburgh’. Beautifully evoking the rain-soaked streets of the Scottish capital, refracted through a personal lens, ‘Edinburgh’ is an exercise in elegance and restraint, filling out the shadows and backstreets with ennui. Melancholic piano chords carry the track forward while electronic texture’s weave amid Chloë March’s luminous lyrical play. A departure – yet also an arrival.
'Wien' simply aches with melancholic introspection, tracing one of travel’s most wonderfully paradoxical sensations – the feeling of looking back while moving forward. 'Mailand' continues the introspective thread, gliding gracefully into the ambient dub of 'Lissabon', followed by the wonderfully understated electronica and found sound of closer 'Koeln'. Rather than a final point on the journey, 'Koeln' offers a rest point and an understanding that there is always another destination in queue.