Posted on Apr 9th 2010 12:05 am
Miasmah Recordings 2010
06 Tracks. 45mins26secs
If spring is finally making an apparition in Britain, it appears as if Norway, or at least the corner occupied by Miasmah, is still in the grip of a permanent winter. The label headed by Erik Skodvin has claimed glacial landscapes as its own, and its latest signing, Oslo-based musician Fredrik Ness Sevendal, will do very little to contribute to a thawing in the aesthetic of its catalogue. Yet, Sevendal’s debut album for the label, very much like Simon Scott’s Navigare before it, scans a very different type of icy territories to that favoured by Miasmah until now. Using both acoustic and electric guitars, often in treated form, as his main sound sources, Sevendal carves a varied series of textured soundscapes at the confines of psychedelic folk and ethereal noise.
The album opens with a strummed acoustic guitar oddly reminiscent of David Bowie’s Space Oddity for a moment, but a shimmering melody, peppered with gentle percussions, takes Silence To Say Hello in an altogether different direction, and as the track progresses and sound grows more altered and distorted, and eventually collapses, the fragile nature of this album becomes much clearer.
A veteran of the Norwegian music scene, and an active member in a variety of bands, Sevendal builds his solo work around lo-fi home recordings, working glitches and sound defects into the fabric of his music, rendering it surprisingly much stronger as its fragility becomes more obvious. This is very much what is fascinating about Silence To Say Hello. The piece is almost anodyne as it opens, but as defects come into focus and alter the listener’s perception, it gains incredible strength from these glitches. As the album progresses, this treatment becomes even more potent as the lights are left shining on the more minimal moments, often materialised in little more than an acoustic guitar, the accidental speckles of dust having a particularly deep resonance. On Sappélur and Flaggermusvingers Vift I Dimmet, layers of distorted, yet somehow smooth and refined, guitars build a stark landscape, where melody becomes almost secondary to the noise structure, although, in the closing few minutes of the latter, the dust settles again slowly to reveal dreamy textures reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine at their most delicate end.
In two occasions, Sevendal leans towards more openly human grounds by adding voices to the mix. On Dream, reversed vocals prove an uneasy echo of Matt Elliott’s drunken songbook for an instant, but a wonderfully eerie guitar loop lifts the piece to an almost narcotic-like dimension later on. Wooden Leg sees Inga-Lill Farstad take on vocal duties, and the mood is here is even more ethereal and poignant, adding exquisite flourishes to Sevendal’s music, especially as the voice splits into touching harmonies.
This Miasmah debut, which originally appeared in a slightly different form as a limited CDr release a few years ago, is once again a wonderful addition to the label’s catalogue, its evocative scope being told from a slightly unusual perspective, but all the more powerful for it.