DEAF CENTER: Owl Splinters (Type Recordings)


Posted on Feb 2nd 2011 01:37 am

Filed in Albums | Tags: ,
Comments (0)

Deaf Center: Owl Splinters

Owl Splinters
Type Recordings 2011
08 Tracks. 43mins17secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP iTunes: DLD

It has been over five years since Norwegian duo Deaf Center released their debut album, Pale Ravine, yet the ripples of its impact are still being felt today, so much it has proved at the forefront of a whole movement in contemporary music, its dark textured orchestral bridging the gap between atmospheric electronic music and modern classical. Since, Erik Skodvin, one half of the duo, has, through his solo projects, continued to explore deeply cinematic soundscapes, and has fervently promoted other like-minded artists through Miasmah, the label he originally set up in 1999. Otto Totland has remained more discreet, but he was however noticed as one half of Nest, a project set up with Huw Roberts with whom he released a digital-only mini album a few years ago which they complemented with additional compositions and published as Retold through Roberts’ Serein imprint last year.

Recorded in Nils Frahm’s Durton Studio in Berlin, Owl Splinters is a much more ambitious and accomplished piece of work than its predecessor, yet, Deaf Center have retained much of its clair obscure ambiences and refined soundscapes. Owl Splinters opens with the grainy sound of a bow sliding on strings, solitary at first, then progressively layered into an orchestral drone, propped up by rumbling bass and upon which appears to hang a ghostly choir. Things take on an even more haunting turn with New Beginning (Tidal Darkness). In its first half, the piece is once again a densely layered droning form, but here, the strings appear more dissonant. In the second half, the mood is tempered by a piano, drenched in reverb. Surrounded by a continuous clutter of undefined found sounds and electronics and creeping string work, its spiraling melody sounds drowsy and slightly oppressive.

Deaf Center show a much more acute level of complexity in their compositions this time round, and while the above prove highly effective, this is nothing compared to the progressive soundscapes of The Day I Would Never Have. Spread over nearly eleven minutes, the piece is not without recalling the more intense moments of Murcof’s Cosmos. The piece finds its source in a somewhat peaceful and pastoral piano sequence, with little more than distant found sounds echoing in the background. Things take on a more formal tone past the three minute mark as increasingly domineering strings are infused with occasional flashes of feedback until the density of the soundscape becomes such that no individual sound can filter out anymore. The piece deflates rather suddenly a couple of minutes before coming to a close to reveal once again the flicker of a gentle piano theme. Skodvin and Totland apply a similar process to Close Forever Watching later on. Although nowhere near as developed or ambitious, this composition relies on much of the same elaborate clustering of sounds, reaching a point where its entity is much greater than the sum of its components, before slowly collapsing on itself until there is nothing left. Closing piece Hunted Twice is in comparison much more peaceful, especially in its second part where the piano oversteps the strings, with only the melancholic hum of a cello left as an accompaniment.

In between these, the pair insert more stripped down shorted compositions, often centred around one predominant instrument. Time Spent and Fiction Dawn for instance are wonderfully light and sober piano piece, while, streaked by a cutting cello, Animal Sacrifice appears more mournful and  angular, as if it was still feeding from the intensity of The Day I Would Never Have which it follows.

If Pale Ravine proved a defining record, Deaf Center have, with Owl Splinters, greatly expanded on their original template, bringing their stunning compositions to life with deeply organic textures and soundscapes. Owl Splinters is a truly accomplished collection of timeless cinematic music.


Deaf Center (MySpace) | Type Recordings
Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP iTunes: DLD

Filed in Albums | Tags: ,
Comments (0)

Comments are closed.