Posts Tagged ‘Dret Skivor’

Dret Skivor – 1st April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Another month, another Dret release, and this one, their fifteenth, is from Dormir, a sound artist who lives on the island of Bornholm, near the Stavehøl Vandfald. It’s no April fool.

‘Under isen’ translates as ‘Under the ice’, and consists of two side-long tracks: ‘under isen ligger noget, du ikke kan lide’ (‘under the ice is something you do not like’, apparently) and ‘min indblanding er din afhængighed’ (‘my interference is your addiction’, according to Google translate. It sounds a little clunky, and is perhaps left in its native form,

‘under isen ligger noget’ is a suitably dark, dense blast sound that arrives on an arctic gust, scouring and scourging the bleakness of a whiteout landscape with a roar that strips away the senses with an elongated scrape of treble and a low, resonant booming like a ship’s horn, the sound lost adrift in a blizzard of impenetrable static. It’s disorientating, bewildering. You do, truly, feel surrounded, encased in sound, and if anything has ever recreated the harrowing experience of the time I was caught in a blizzard on top of a mountain in the Lake District and unable to gain any sense of my location in order to navigate down, it’s this. It was one of the most terrifying and traumatic experiences of my life, so suffice it to say, listening to this is something of a challenge on a personal level. It never ends, and you fear there is absolutely no way out. The tone and pitch has barely any variation over the duration; just additional elements thrown into the blistering vortex. It’s not strictly Harsh Noise Wall, but it is a wall of harsh noise that leaves you feeling buffeted, pulverised, punished.

If you’re hoping for something more gentle on the flipside, ‘min indblanding er din afhængighed’ is likely to disappoint: it’s more noise, only this time louder and denser and dirtier, not so much the sound of a blizzard but a washing machine on a spin cycle as it slowly breaks down, as recorded using a microphone thrown into the drum. It grinds and churns, thrums and throbs and swirls, it clatters, clanks and gurgles and swashes along, everything overloaded and distorted. In contrast to side one, it’s a more overtly rhythmic piece that positively pulsates, a dark heart pulsing beneath the eye-wavering curtain of static that crackles and fizzes. But there’s nothing soothing about this rythmicality, and you sure as hell can’t dance to it: it’s like having a wire connected to a battery prod your temple twice a second for almost twenty minutes; it leaves you feeling absolutely fucking fried. But it’s worth it.

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Dret Skivor – 4th March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Swedish DIY microlabel Dret Skivor continue their steady programme of a release a month – and while the number of physical copies of releases are minuscule, it makes for a sustainable model, and those who obtain them have a bona fide rarity. The noise scene loves this kind of thing, but then, so does the market of the arts more broadly: limited editions are certainly nothing new as a selling point, but here it’s also a practical consideration.

Consequently, Dret 13, Fern’s Illustration of Sound Waves, which was released early February, is sold out now in physical format – but then there were only eight cassettes dubbed, so it’s hardly surprising.

Dret 14 sees Claus Poulsen and Dave Procter reunited once again, with experimental duo PP creating sound both indoors and outdoors last autumn to celebrate the imminent onset of winter. Being in Sweden, they have proper winters worthy of celebration. The release features two versions of ‘Drone for Autumn’ – a studio and a live take, with the latter being edited to 14:49 to fit on one side of a C30 cassette. It’s a nice detail for trainspotters (and as someone who has obsessively collected ‘versions’ from back when multiple formats was the cash-cow of choice for record labels, I consider myself among them).

It’s droney, alright. It’s a thick, quivering, mid-range oscillation that shudders away at the heart of the composition, and it rings out solidly on the studio version, while murky wisps and whirls and vaporous incidentals intersect and bisect the continuous stream of rough-edged sound. It creates a certain tension, but mostly, it creates a rich atmosphere: not overtly dark, but more shadowy, twilit. The drone wheezes on and on. Stars shoot across the darkening sky – or are they lasers or satellites falling out of orbit? There is some loose semblance of linearity, through a succession of, if not specifically crescendos, then swells and ebbs, and the arrival of a grinding organ amidst the whistling winds adds further texture. It may not evoke any specific seasonality, but in adhering to a core drone and building around it, P and P imbue the work with a bleak monotony that reflects the slow passage of time.

The live ‘version’ is less a performance of the same piece and more of a further exploration of a theme, starting with a looped vocal snippet that fades into a slow, rolling electric piano. The notes decay into crackle and there’s much more by way of extraneous noise, distant radios and chatter and rumbling here – not to mention the absence of that central continuous drone that defines and dominates the studio piece. With so many random sounds fading in and out, it’s more or less a cut-up / collage piece (some well-known 80s tunes drift through before being swallowed by a churning noise like a toilet flushing), and it’s quite bewildering in its effect on the senses and general orientation. There’s even some gentle acoustic folk guitar near the end. It’s hard to draw anything solid from it, or even really define the experience, but as an experimental electroacoustic work, it’s nicely done, with a clear sense that the artists are revelling in the process of working together to draw this array of source materials together, and it works well.

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Swedish microlabel Dret Skivor marks its first birthday with another suitably challenging release, in the shape of a split release featuring spoken word artists Dale Prudent and Christopher Nosnibor. As both artists also purveyors of harsh noise, they’ve combined the disciplines to create complimentary pieces of some of the harshest noise-backed spoken word around.

As the accompanying notes detail, ‘This release brings together two spoken word artists who also do harsh noise. These are the results. Nosnibor rants and raves in the York area of England and elsewhere. Prudent performs no audience spoken word in (in)appropriate spaces around Hammarö in western Sweden. ‘

Available as an audiocassette in a limited edition of six, and also as a download, Dret 12 is an instant underground classic.

Listen to the dense blast of Nosnibor’s ‘A Psychological Spasm’ and Prudent’s sprawling, feedback-soaked ‘på bunkern’ here, and follow the label’s advice – Listen through decent headphones or decent speakers for the full horror of what lies within……

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Dret Skivor – 1st October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Dret Skivor continue to provide an outlet for the weird and wonderful, not to mention the obscure and droney with the eponymous release from the enigmatic but somewhat amusingly-monikered twAt klaxon. All we know of twAt klAxon is that they’re a Finnish sound artist – but then, so we really need more (beyond the advice to ‘Play through decent speakers/headphones for best results’)? Sometimes, it’s preferable to engage simply with the music than to become side-tracked by biography and theory.

Being a Dret release, twAt klAxon is an album of two halves, created very much with the cassette format in mind (with just four copies of the limited C45 physical edition produced), and each side contains a single longform track. The first of these, the inspirationally-titled ‘twAt’ manifests as a single, thrumming, humming drone. It hovers predominantly in the midrange, and not a lot happens for a long time. Fleetingly, it stammers and stalls, before pulsing back with a stronger, more overtly rhythmic phase. While the variations are minimal, the sonic ripples yield some good vibrations – not just metaphonically, but literally, sending waved through my elbows and forearms as they west on the surface of my desk as I listen. And listen I do. Sometimes, to focus intently on a single sound can be a quite remarkable experience, one that’s both relaxing and liberating. The sound thickens and sticks, and slowly it creeps over you. It’s a frequency that doesn’t drill into your skull, but instead wraps your head tightly and squeezes, a smothering compression of emptiness.

As a child, I had a recurring dream in which pencil-drawn planes crashed and scrumpled in succession. This dream was soundtracked by a deafening silence. This is not that sound, but it reminds me of it, and in doing do, recalls the anguish caused by that dream, and it’s not pleasant. Even without that association, the tension of that single note that hovers from around the fourteen minute mark and on and on and on for all eternity is challenging. The reason I admire this as a work of sonic art because of the level of patience that must have been required to produce it – unless, of course, they left the room and made a cuppa while the sound continued, in which case I would feel somewhat cheated, and making them a twAt of the highest order.

‘klAxon’ is more drone: there are more vibrations, the sound is thicker, denser, buzzier, and there are intimations of beats of at least regular pulsations that thump rhythmically low in the mix. This slides into some heavy phase and throbs endlessly hard. It’s primitive, with undertones of early Whitehouse, mining that analogue seam minus the pink and white noise. twenty-one minutes of that undulating, slow-shifting bubbling almost inevitably has an effect, and it’s deeply disorientating. Perhaps less klAxon and simply more twAt.

Quippage aside, this album is certainly no accident: it is designed to register physically, while torturing psychologically. And no, torture is not too extreme a word: that isn’t to say that twAt klAxon is intended to inflict any kind of trauma, but it does employ the methods of torture within an artistic context to create a work that’s perverse and purposefully challenging – and it succeeds.

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Dret Skivor – DRET 009 – 3rd September, 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

On the face of it, it’s a straightforward question. But chewing on it a little longer than is probably advisable, like a lump of gristle you can’t quite find an opportune moment to spit out discreetly at a family meal, it presents a range of different potential inflections, from the casual ‘how do you like your noise?’ delivered with the same intonation as ‘how do you like your steak / coffee / eggs?’ through to the rather more personal but interrogative ‘how do you like your noise?’

So while listening to the ten pieces on this short release, available digitally and as a C20 cassette, I gave this some consideration. It wasn’t necessary, but then, not a lot is, beyond the basic functions of eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping. Then again, art has existed longer than civilisation, and perhaps it’s not so wild to think that giving an outlet to one’s thoughts and feelings which transcend verbalisation is also necessary in the most fundamental sense. Perhaps we need art to live. This act of consideration in itself made me realise that a lot of noise is something that’s possible to think alongside listening to. It isn’t that it’s necessarily undemanding: it’s often far from it. It’s just that noise has the capacity to free the mind in ways that more structured genres, and modes of music more geared towards beats and lyrics can often pull the brain waves into their structures instead of encouraging that certain mental drift. Of course, ‘noise’ can be subject to a host of interpretations, sometimes with an interchangeability with ‘sound’. Specifically, here, though, I’m talking about noise.

And ultimately, I can only conclude that I do like my noise harsh. For some reason, noise that makes me grit my teeth and chew the inside of my mouth while I’m listening is the noise that meets the needs of my inner workings. It excites me and sets me on edge. I suppose it’s because ultimately, when it comes to this shade of noise, all you can do is submit to it, and it’s a cathartic release to allow the sound to draw the stress from the mind and body.

How do you like your noise? is pitched as ‘a bunch of noises recorded live 2020 and gems from the archives’, and while it’s not always clear which represents which, there’s no shortage of nasty abrasion on offer here, and it’s clear that Pulsen ‘get’s noise – by which I mean, he has a handle on the effects of varying textures and frequencies, and how shifts between different ranges can trigger both physical and cerebral responses. The grating ‘metal massage’ and squalling electronic blitzkrieg of ‘urbanoise’ are exemplary of the kind of circuit-melting experimentation that many will find painful and torturous, and be grateful for their merciful brevity.

There’s range here: ‘dead man’ is a sparse and spacious guitar piece that borders on post rock, while ‘ringu’ does some glitchy warpy bendy note electronics tricks and teeters on the brink of some kind of electrojazz odyssey. There’s also some whimsical faffery, clattering and clanking around that’s more throwaway interlude than composition, with sub-minute snippets like ‘still haven’t found what i was looking for’.

And so, I changed my mind: I like my noise varied. On this release, Poulsen shows the full spectrum of his versatility, and the range of his noise. I like my noise, and I like this a lot.

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Dret Skivor – DRET008 – 6th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The latest offering from Dret Skivor, a Swedish tape label specialising in drone and various shades of experimental noise, is the new album from Danish maker of electronic noise Thomas Li, who, as Li, has self-released almost a dozen works digitally. Biographical details are less than minimal, and that’s cool. Why do we need to know about the artist, their background or their back catalogue? Do we really need to know the context or the intent, the theory behind a work? Sometimes, when it’s an experimental work informed by theory or a certain concept, it helps, because the concept and theory are integral to both the process and the end product. Then again, there’s a danger that sometimes said theory or concept can impinge on one’s appreciation of the work. Sometimes, it’s best to just be able to listen, and allow oneself to be immersed in the sound, without pouring over lengthy liner notes, researching myriad avenues presented by the references, and straining one’s brain over concepts. This is particularly true of many works of a more ambient persuasion. I’m not remotely anti-academic or anti-intellectual – quite the opposite. But sometimes, you just need a break, and music can be the perfect conduit to vital headspace. An overemphasis on context can detract from the often underrated pleasure of simply listening, and enjoying.

Admittedly, enjoyment of an album like this is the preserve of a small minority: it doesn’t contain any ‘tunes’, it’s beatless, and it’s not always entirely mellow either. But it does have a great deal of texture, and this is something you can really lose yourself in.

Great Leap Forward contains three tracks, with side one occupied with the two-part ‘Olympia’ and the second side containing the eighteen-minute monster title track.

‘Olympia I’ is nine minutes of dense, churning drones, billowing sonic clouds that choke and smother, while counterpart ‘Olympia II’ gurgles and churns a dark whirling cyclone of sound. The latter is more interesting, sonically, with a lot more going on – meaning it’s also more challenging and more tense, as crackles and hums fizz and spin from the dank depths of bubbling noise.

The title track is altogether less tumultuous and more background ambient by comparison. Being eighteen minutes in duration, on the face of it, not a lot happens: there are no climactic blasts of noise, there’s nothing explosive or even overtly disruptive. And yet for all its subtlety, it is engaging, and there is movement, there are shifts and distract and divert. Howling winds blast over barren landscapes of drifting sand and strains of treble and whines of feedback emerge from the eternal mid-range rumble that drones on, and on, and on.

In the context of his output to date, this may not really be quite such a great leap forward, but it does clearly mark an evolution and an expansion on the soundscapes sculpted on previous works. And, played with the accompaniment of a candle and some CBD-infused beer, Great Leap Forward is a well-executed soundtrack to mental recuperation.

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Dret Skivor – 18th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Swedish cassette label Dret Skivor continue to expand their catalogue at pace with another made-for-tape two-tracker in the shape of Hammarö Stickning Kubb’s Storbror Ser Dig. As is customary, biographical information for the label’s seventh release is nil, and technical information is sparse, the accompanying notes simply stating ‘Six oscillators, reverbs, psychoacoustics, voices in your head, chance methods.’

Methodologically, this evokes the spirit of John Cage – substitute eight or twelve radios with six oscillators, retain the random, and, well, there you have it. The fascination of the random – particularly where there are multiple operatives or machines involved – is the way it can yield moments of unanticipated interplay. It’s not just about the overlaps and intersections, either, but the spaces where one or more of those elements is not participating or contributing. It’s here where the potentials of permutation present themselves. Maths, I‘ll freely admit, isn’t one of my greatest strengths, but the permutations of six clearly offer significant numbers of variations. And on the one hand, while it is mathematical, there is also a strong musical and literary lineage of permutational work, with Brion Gysin’s permutational poems being a strong example of how a simple phrase consisting of maybe four, five, or six words can yield a substantial array of variants through the process of permutation. Then, of course, there is Dret label founder Dave Procter’s own Fibonacci Drone Organ project, which is – as the name suggests – mathematically based.

The permutational aspect of Storbror Ser Dig – split across two twenty-minute pieces, ‘Storbror.’ (side one) and ‘…Ser Dig’(side two) aren’t really apparent, but on the former, a minimalist drone swells to a filler drone that continues to expand in density over time.

‘…Ser Dig’ occupies a lower mid-range register and subtly wavers through slow oscillations. Not a lot happens, but this is a work that demands a certain level of focus – or otherwise, no attention whatsoever, by which I mean that close listening will reveal minute details, and that intent, alert state of scrutinising the sound brings with it a different state of mind, a certain clarity. Contrastingly, allowing oneself to become one with the drone is a deeply relaxing experience: headphones, dark room and candle, a smoky scotch all contrive to a certain slow fade in and out of the continuum, which is different altogether. It encourages you to empty your mind and instead of reflecting on any sense of trajectory, simply immersing oneself in the slow, subtle ripples of sound that reveal themselves over time. No drone is ever just a drone: there is always movement, shapes, undulations, ripples, waves. They are all present in this subtly-shifting, rippling dronescape that evolves over the course of its forty-minute duration. And the details are nice, but nicer still is just to sit back and let it play out, because life is stressful and demanding enough and sometimes, details simply don’t matter. With this, it’s time to go with the flow.

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Dret Skivor – 7th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The island of Poveglia in the Venetian lagoon, where plague victims were sent to quarantine – and die – is commonly known as ‘plague island’. But the ‘unprecedented’ pandemic that has circulated the globe in the last eighteen months or so has created a new ‘plague island’, where almost every element of dystopian fiction has become a reality.

There’s no question that this is a political album. The cover alone says it all: this is not some fictional place, but an album that’s explicitly inspired by a specific island that is – sadly, for many of us – very real. The UK, the tiny island with one of the highest death tolls in Europe from the COVID-19 pandemic is indeed a plague island – an island ridden with not only literal plague, but metaphorical plague, its seedy government the worst exponents of capitalist excess, and widely reputed as being more corrupt than the mafia, its racist, jingoistic bullshit-by-the-dozen prime minister with more children than he can account for, tossing money at his mistress while in a position of power, slinging multi-million pound contracts to associates to cash in on the pandemic, and misappropriating funds for a lavish refurb on his flat while unable to find the funds for more than a 1% pay rise for medics… A prime minister who would ‘fuck business’ but would still rather let ‘the bodies pile high’ than shut down and further damage his precious economy’. That’s a plague on a plague, a pestilence on an international scale, and also an absolute fucking disgrace.

It’s an island that also seems to have forgotten how small and isolated it is, both by geography and, now, politically: it’s forgotten it doesn’t have the empire it once did, and so, cut loose from the EU, isn’t an economic powerhouse on a global scale… just a tiny pathetic spec on the map, deludedly flexing its muscles and posturing while plunging further into debt by the hour. It’s a scabby scummy pit of self-importance and irrelevance, where the ruling elite trample the rest every second of the day purely out of self-interest. It’s a hellhole of division and decline that would rather cut off its face to spite its nose, all in the name of reclaiming its borders and blue fucking passports – and all of this is neatly encapsulated in the album’s opening blitzkrieg of noise overload, ‘Wading Through the Dead Bodies to Feel the Sovereignty’.

Because words alone cannot articulate the violent disgust at the country’s policies on immigration, welfare, child poverty, this barrage of cranium-crushing overload is the perfect expression of the rage and the fury – fizzing static and electronic sparks fly through a stammering buzz and headlong collisions of explosive distortion. It’s ten-and-three-quarter minutes of sonic annihilation that’s almost unbearable in its intensity and sheer abrasion. It’s weight and intensity feel like being trapped underneath a tank stuck on a mudbank. You’re clinging on as it tries to run you over the edge, where you can only hope to find a sleazy, lying scumbag lying dead in a ditch before you.

The churning earthworks continue unabated on second track, ‘Bring No Pestilence back’, which dissolves into a babbling, streaming gurgle that accelerates in pace and tapes to a treble as a thin, scrawling drone extends out over its final minutes, before fading to silence. It’s unpleasant and uncomfortable, and clearly intentionally so. For all that, it’s not as unpleasant or uncomfortable as living in post-Brexit Britain in a semi-lockdown state and knowing that the future offers no hope on the horizon.

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DRET 05 — 2nd April 2021

The fifth release on Swedish label Dret Skivor, which coincides with another Bandcamp Friday, is Blue Oblivion by Tore Honoré Bøe. Information about the artist or the material is non-existent, so everything is left open for the listener to extract and interpret from these layered sonic collages. My initial response is the ocean, being immersed in the vastness of the expanse – or, more specifically, drowning, before my thoughts turn upwards, to the eternal endlessness of the sky. Starring up on a cloudless say, it’s easy to lose yourself in the infinite space.

But the sonics captured here evoke neither. This is, for the most part, a snarling, swirling tempest of electronics pushed to – and beyond – their limits, a shrilled, shrieking assault on the senses that utterly engulfs: this is not a pleasurable or ecstatic oblivion, but the oblivion that arrives as a welcome relief from a relentless battering.

On the first piece, ‘Foosa!’ a piano note fades into the fog as a crackle of static builds to a sustained fizz. Scrapes and drones take on the presence of creeping chords in the absence of any overt musicality. It howls and wails and drills into the cranium randomly, one shill blast of noise replaced by another shrill blast of noise of a different frequency. Like cowboys armed with two pistols shooting from each hand alternately, Tore fires off drill-like frequencies one after the other, hand over hand, whirring and buzzing… and then it’s all down the toilet in a single plunge.

‘We Love King Julien!’ is less abrasive, at least initially, but no less challenging: a woozy, stammering mess of glitching drone that cracks and churns through a succession of misaligned subsequences that stammer and lurch, it’s a different kind of discoordinating. Metallic smashes scrape and buckle to forge brain-clenching streams of static noise that bubbles and churns. In time, it all breaks down into a mess of fractured noise and fizzing static, a horrible mass of treble that jumbles all focus. It descends into alternating drones and explosive blasts of speaker-shredding noise, and culminates is a tsunami of churning while noise and synapse-melting overload across a wheezing drone so flat it feels like it died a long time previous.

There is no kind or considered response to this, no neat finisher. It’s not an easy or pleasant release – but then, that’s not what Dret ‘do’, and seemingly, it’s not what Tore Honoré Bøe does either.

Blue Oblivion is unquestionably immersive, but it’s not entertainment: this is harsh, uncomfortable nose. It’s noise to lose yourself in.

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Dret Skivor – 5th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Recently-launched Swedish label Dret Skivor has a fairly broad remit in its commitment to being ‘Locally focussed but stretching out to droneheads, noiseheads, ambientheads and weirdoheads across Scandinavia’. Stylistically, it’s pretty much a case of anything goes as long as it’s not remotely mainstream – but that certainly doesn’t mean that anything that’s vaguely accessible is off-limits, and Fern’s Inhibitory Shortcomings, described as ‘is a minimalistic digital multi-tracked adventure’ isn’t unpleasant or overtly challenging to any ear that’s accustomed to alternative electronica.

This set has something of a 90s vibe initially, a woozy wash of electronics, cracking static, and sampled dialogue and horns dominating the eclectic cut-up that is ‘in´ros50’. As such, while inspired granular looping, FM and different sampling techniques. AS such, while inspired by ‘the avant-garde music produced by the San Francisco Tape Center (among others) during the 1960’s’, William Burroughs’s tape experiments, as filtered through the prism of albums like Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales, produced with The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, also very much seem to inform the sonic collage pieces on offer here.

‘digi´al_r3alm pt1’ and counterpart ‘digi´al_r3alm pt2’ combine clacking, clattering tonal-based percussion with obscure oscillations and a static crackle like a downpour of rain: the latter drags down into gloomy, eerie atmospherics with a hesitant bass throb underpinning insectoid skitterings and dank sloshing washes that slop back and forth listelessly.

It’s a solid drum-based percussion that dominates the beginning of ‘dr3´_0032’ before the tape starts spooling backwards and everything gets sucked back towards it source.

None of the pieces are particularly long – only ‘digi´al_r3alm pt2’ exceeds four minutes – but each is rich in atmosphere and texture, packing in a dense array of sounds that collide against one another, bouncing off the wall of dark subterranean caverns of the mind to conjure some unsettling images. Flittering tweets and scraping squeaks abound, as do dripping sonic droplets that splash into spacious reverberations.

Closer ‘ou´ros51’ perhaps feel the most dislocated and dissonant of all of the compositions, a slow, decaying loop of an analgesic trip-hop beat and blooping laser sounds drags on repetitively, gradually slowing the senses to a slightly disorientated fog of drowsiness.

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