Richard Hellgren is a Swedish composer and pianist based in Gotland, off the Eastern coast of Sweden. Through numerous releases over the last two years, Hellgren has defined his style of minimalistic, contemplative and poetic piano pieces, often coloured by the sound of an old Malmsjö. His first EP, a collection of five piano pieces, has been released through the American label Sonder House and is entitled Ainigma.
Air is based on an incomplete ostinato that never manages to go through. The rhythmic pattern seems to be paraphrased and transformed in the following piece, Surge—allowing both to flow seamlessly from one to another. It is towards the end of the piece that the listener is the most captivated, through a scalic climb that resonates as it grows—allowing the instrument to breathe and release the tension it had been building through the past pieces. The title track, Ainigma, is based on a series of elongated arpeggios that transitionally morph for the entire duration of the piece, while Rich Ground follows a similar climbing approach using a single musical idea—however in a much more diverse manner—and an interesting exchange of registers. Finally, Leaves of Grass is based again on a repetitive structure over which evolves a simplistic ascending melody.
Ainigma features a conscious choice of pieces that all relate to each other musically; whether it is in their rhythmic, melodic or harmonic content. A seamless journey toward to Baltic and Northern musical world of Richard Hellgren. His straightforward approach to music is far from lacking content and musical interest and is carefully hidden behind apparent accessible piano pieces.