Max Lilja has spent the majority of his adult life recreating the cello. With Apocalyptica he broke musical barriers as they combined Metallica with the cello and continued to write original metal and rock pieces; all with cellos. As Lilja pursued a solo career, he merged the world of electronica with the cello through his two albums (Plays Electronica By One Cello and Morphosis). Perhaps the more interesting of musical hybrids, as electronica is quite devoid of nature. It is mechanical, not natural. And the cello with its classic nature, is full of emotion. Human feeling and intervention. Not mechanical or machine like at all. Yet, Lilja makes it work, and continues to make it work in his latest album 10 000 Miens.
The addition of a human touch to electronica has been taken one step further as Lilja states that his “biggest inspiration for these songs were human faces”. Makes sense with an album titled 10 000 Miens (mien meaning demeanor). Lilja has always played with dark and lighter sounds. His previous two album often went from light, peaceful and calming to dark, brooding and heavy. There was a mix of fun, dance type tracks, among the more serious sombre pieces. While Lilja continues to play with sounds and feels, 10 000 Miens has a greater sense of fragility. A greater sense of our mortality.
Opening track “Playground” isn’t the happy, dance track that perhaps the title would imply. It starts slow. It feels more like a memory. The distant memory an adult has of their childhood. There is a sense of happiness, but also a sense of longing. “25 Steps To Heaven” lightens the mood, with a more relaxed feel. Less longing. More happiness. Acceptance of life and all that comes with it.
This sense of memory. Of longing. Of happiness. Of acceptance. These are all expressed throughout the entirety of the record. Yet, it isn’t all about fragility. We get a sense of strength and power in “The Clown”; and this continues in the second part of the album with “Dialogue” and “Reflection”. Both of these tracks are prominent examples of strength and power, as opposed to the more fragile nature of earlier tracks.
Lilja’s previous two solo albums have been innovative records that merged disparate musical genres seamlessly. 10 000 Miens is no exception to that. Plays Electronica By One Cello had the shock factor, as it was a new concept. Morphosis saw Lilja experiment even further with what the cello could achieve in this electronic world. And 10 000 Miens feels like the culmination of his previous work. We heard the fun over the top dance tracks. We heard the experimentation. And now we have a matured record that plays with our sense of mortality, and fragile sense as human beings with only a limited time on this planet.