Posts Tagged ‘Dret Skivor’

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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Dret Skivor – 12th February 2021

While there have been a few shady folks who have dwelt in prominent places on the noise scene through the years, leading to a certain association between noise and the ugliest aspects of the far right, my own personal experience has been, fortunately, quite different, and the noise-orientated circles I’ve found myself moving in are populated by some of the most sincere left-leaning people who devote their time to speaking up for equality, workers’ rights, and railing against bigotry, discrimination, and fascism. In a way, it feels strange that I should even feel the vaguest need to preface a review by setting this out by way of a context. But there we have it: the world is full of cunts, and sadly certain genres have more than their share of prominent ones, and it only takes a couple of mouldy grapes to taint a batch of fine wine. Or to bypass the metaphor, a handful of cunts to tarnish the reputation of a large group.

There’s no question around the politics of Malmö act Noise Against Fascism, the latest additions to the Dret Skivor label, founded by the ubiquitous Dave Procter following his recent relocation from Leeds to Sweden (prompted partly by the shitshow of Brexit). The band’s bio describes the project as ‘harsh noise against all forms of oppression and injustice. A violent non-violent tool of resistance’. And it makes sense: noise, when it’s harsh, can be one of the most brutally violent things around. And The Violence lives up to its title. Released on limited cassette, it features a longform track on each side, and they’re unswervingly optimally harsh.

‘Policemachine’ is a churning blast of mid-range noise, a welter of distortion that’s remorselessly abrasive. It’s difficult to tell it it’s resonance of a rapid phase, but it pulsates at a high frequency, the metallic shuddering racket positively shaking the walls, while occasional snarls and crashes and heavy blows add more horror to the relentless assault. It is, of course, entirely fitting of the title, which is take as a reference to both police brutality – a topic which has been hot for some time now, and never more so than in the last year or so, giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. But it’s a trope that reaches back far further. A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962, and forty years, how much has actually changed? The track is a real fucking horrorshow, a nuclear assault of devastating sonic proportions that speaks of every kind of violence. Lasers blast through the tempest toward the end, only accentuating the sensation that this is a war trasmited sonically. It’s an aural battering, a sonic blitzkrieg, a full-on gut-shredding mess of overloading nastiness, that’s sustained for over half an hour, with not a moment’s respite, and it’s enough to leave you feeling absolutely ruined.

And so, still staggering, battered and bruised, the listener is thrown headlong into the engulfing racket that is the title track, a further twenty-five minutes of extreme noise that beings with a sample that’s cut to a loop and separated by some dramatic stereo that feels like a sharp left-right punching before the devastating noise crashes in like a bulldozer. Obliterative is an understatement. The cut loop of ‘the violence’ continues throughout, reminding me of Rudimentary Peni’s Pope Adrian 37th Psychristiatric album, with it’s mind-bending loop of ‘Papus Adrianus’ which runs for its entire duration.

It’s noise, and holy fuck is it harsh. The monotony only accentuates it, of course, but sonically, it’s a howling mess of overloading circuitry that offers not even so much as a microsecond’s breathing space. If you want to lose yourself in body-breaking, brain-shredding noise, then this album is going to deliver. With the added benefit of knowing they’re not nazi cunts.

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Dret Skivor – 21st December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Initially, this review was to open with the line ‘Dave Procter, the man with more musical projects than the devil has names, has been rather quiet of late’ – but the northern noisemonger doesn’t really do quiet, and doesn’t really do fallow periods either. Procter’s full-time relocation to Sweden from Leeds may mean, sadly, that some of the acts he’s involved with – most obviously The Wharf Street Galaxy Band – are on hiatus, but wherever he goes, he makes noise – quite literally, as demonstrated by his ‘noise walks’. Not that ‘hiatus’ really means anything with lockdown putting paid to so much musical activity anyway. It’s a shame, because Dave’s myriad projects tend to be geared to a live setting – improvised, visceral, and loud. On a personal level, I miss his presence on the scene: a man as comfortable in a pig’s head and lab coat as a red boiler suit, it’s his understanding and acceptance of niche I value almost as much as the noise he makes: no audience? No problem. And so with live performances largely off the table, Proctor’s started out establishing his space in Sweden with the set-up of a new label, Dret Skivor, and this early-doors sampler EP gives a taste of what we can expect – which is, for anyone with a priori knowledge – what you’d expect, namely experimental, and noisy.

On offer here are just four acts with a track apiece, but then, as an EP – which would actually work nicely as a 12” with a different running order – it does the job of showcasing exactly what Dret Skivor is about.

Fern’s ‘Low Pressure Wave’ is minimal lo-fi electro, an erratic pulsation and low-thrumming oscillating drone vibrating against one another to build a headache-inducing tension, fading into a simmering wave with scratchy interference. Claus Poulsen brings the noise and then some, with ‘Machines 2 and 4’yelding an absolutely face-melting five minutes of screeding distortion and treble abrasion worthy of Merzbow. It’s a squall of punishing feedback and overload. IJIN also trades in big, abrasive noise, but ‘OH the JOY’ (which I can’t help but read as sarcasm) takes the form of stop/start slabs of noise, with greater emphasis on lower and mid-ranges – although there’s a gum-curling blast f metallic treble that churns relentlessly throughout somewhere lower in the mix. But this track occupies a different territory from the others being showcased here, being a sixteen-minute behemoth that evolves through a series of transitions – yet for the largest part sustains an undulating, howling sustain that drones in an animalistic anguish against a shifting backdrop. It occasionally tapers ad re-emerges, swelling to a thick, nuclear wind of noise that blasts hard against a grinding sonic earthwork of deep, granular noise.

In contrast, Zherbin’s ‘piece for a router, a tape loop and a plastic bag’ feels a little lightweight, disposable, even. But it’s all relative, and in its own context it’s a grainy bit of noise that digs into the cranium with some surprisingly sharp claws.

More Dret, please!

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