Song of the Day: Søren Juul – Ambitions

photo by Beth Crook

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Ambitions” by Søren Juul from his 2015 self-titled EP on 4AD.

Søren Juul – Ambitions (MP3)

The dazzling gleam of Søren Juul’s music feels both massive and understated, a one-man orchestra with an emotional resonance that gradually hums into something subtly affecting. Performing as Indians until recently, Juul played his first show under the moniker in 2012, quickly picking up buzz for his ability to craft glistening songs that struck a post-rock-esque emotional chord with their well-placed arrangements and meticulously sculpted tones. Juul toured Indians’ debut, 2012’s Somewhere Else, until last year, before announcing the release of a self-titled EP that moved even further in an electronic direction. (A full-length of new songs is expected early next year.) “Ambitions” never reaches an explosive, movie scene-soundtracking climax that so many bands who use the same atmospheric tools Juul utilizes, but that only underscores the song’s ability to harness quiet tension and transform it into something quietly breathtaking. Juul’s feather-light voice rides the song with gracious agility, allowing oscillating synths and guitars carry him through illumanted tones (think “I’m on Fire” or the first half of “Wait“), and even when he brings in drums and synthesizers in the song’s final third, he only uses them to augment his unwavering, luminescent sonic landscape. On the first listen, “Ambitions” may seem like anything but its titular descriptor, much less a mission statement, but it signals a new chapter for the Danish musician – Juul’s masterful grasp of calming tension is nothing short of sweeping across a stirring five and a half minutes.

Tonight, Juul (along with Joseph Arthur, Hamilton Leithauser, and Kevin Devine) will play a benefit for KEXP’s New Home at City Winery in New York City. Additionally, he’ll be live on KEXP (via the Cutting Room studios in NYC) the next day, Tuesday, October 20, at 9AM. Get tickets for that 21+ show here (enter the promo code KEXPNYC to redeem and save $15), keep up with Juul at his Facebook and Twitter, and watch him perform “Bird” (as Indians) live at KEXP in 2012.

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