You certainly can’t call Testbild! timid. “Aquatint” is an ambitious concept record that attempts to be an ode both to the sea and to breezy 60s Latin-tinged pop (think Astrid Gil). The band combines ocean sounds, mostly of the sea and waves, together with acoustic guitar and light jazzy arrangements. Some songs are more straight-on pop tunes, while others have a more expansive, ambient feel. The intent is to sort of update sea shanties, to create some odes to the sea that evoke dream, memory and various emotions.
For the most part, that is exactly the result. Swede Petter Herbertsson has created and assembled 20 often mesmerizing, sometimes precious meditation on loneliness and the ever expanding sea. The best songs are those with bite, such as “Rippling Icicle” or “Drop.” When the acoustic instruments meet the ocean sounds in a way that seems as if they are calling to one another, “Aquatint” is powerful and moving. When not, and on songs where the vocals recall bad soft-pop stylings, the effects are less than rousing. Still, Testbild! have attempted to create an entire world, (the set also comes with a short story and brief film) that the attempt, probably doomed to be incomplete, is brave and graceful. 6/10 -- Mike Wood (27 May, 2009)