SVALASTOG: Woodwork (Rune Grammofon)


Posted on Sep 12th 2006 09:33 pm

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Svalastog: Woodwork

Rune Grammofon 2006
10 Tracks. 45mins25secs

Svalastog’s take on folk music is nothing short of interesting. Using traditional Norwegian acoustic instruments as a basis for his work, Per Henrik Svalastog then processes them to create a series of delicate hypnotic pieces with impressive evocative power.

Originating from Tromsø, Norway, home of Biosphere, Röyksopp, Alog, Mental Overdrive and many more fine electronic artists, Svalastog is perhaps best known for being one half of electronic duo Information, with who he has released three albums to date, the last one, Biomekano, published on Rune Grammofon four years ago, but he has also contributed a number of 12” and remixes under a variety of monikers, and released his debut solo album, Silencer, last year on Beat Service. Now returning to Rune Grammofon with his sophomore effort, Woodwork, he continues to explore the sonic imprints of various traditional instruments.

The idea for this solo project originated from the moment Svalastog found an old Harpeleik, a Norwegian zither, which once belonged to his grandfather, and decided to momentarily turn his back on all things electronic to focus on more natural and organic sound sources. Working from improvisations played on old acoustic instruments, Svalastog weaves intricate vignettes around incredibly detailed and sophisticated loops of incredibly to create a series of impressive cinematic compositions. Dressed in elegant acoustic debris, melodies only emerge to dissolve almost instantly, caught up in tribal rhythmic patterns, contributing further to the fragile aspect of this record.

There is a sturdy unity running throughout this record. The process used seems almost identical from one track to the next, yet on closer inspection, Svalastog combines the various elements of a particular composition into ephemeral structures, which give each piece a unique tone. From the onset of The Wood Metal Friction, which slowly lifts off from a vaporous flute-style wind instrument to develop into a cyclic rhythmic theme, Svalastog establishes the master process for the rest of the album. Snow Tracer, which follows, appears as a simple continuation of the previous track, but slow luminescent tones illuminate the background all the way through and give the piece an entirely different emotional facet. On Mouse Tracking, he liquefies the sonic incantations by introducing sliding string elements and builds on sparse bass drums and light percussive twitches to give Reforestation delightful magnetism. Even on the monolithic ambient Slow Blowing Wireless, Svalastog develops a series of deep-reaching patterns and assembles them into a stunning sonic composition.

Very much like Thomas Strønen with his solo debut, Pohlitz, released earlier this year, Per Henrik Svalastog creates an impressionist piece of work, using delicate touches and light textures to highlight the natural sheen of his original sound sources. Magnificent, graceful and evocative in every way, Woodwork is one of the most compelling Rune Grammofon releases to date.

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