Posts Tagged ‘Scandinavian’

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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Christopher Nosnibor

Daily, I read about how the current situation is affecting bands, and, indeed, every aspect of the music industry. That said, it’s always the grass roots and lower echelons who are hardest hit, as is the case in any kind of crisis. Major-league artists will always be ok as gong as there are radio stations to play their stuff and produce a steady flow of royalties, and their millions of fans continue to stream their songs endlessly online. Beyoncé, Bono, and Ed Sheeran aren’t going to starve under lockdown.

But bands who rely on gigs in pubs alongside other bands who rely on gigs in pubs to find a fanbase and maybe flog enough merchandise to cover their fuel between said gigs have nothing to fall back on.

Sleep Kicks’ story is by no means unique, but they way they tell it as they present their new single really brings it home:

The whole live music scene shut down less than two weeks after our debut single came out. Instead of doing gigs and rehearsals, we just kept going, working on our own with a handful of songs we had recorded. Mixing, videos, artwork – the lot. We suddenly realised that one of the songs happened to describe this weird situation, and the feeling we somehow knew we would have once this whole thing was over. In short, the soundtrack to coming out of urban lockdown. It turned out an epic ode to the city, and at least it helped ourselves keeping the spirits up during the bleak times!

With ‘Recovery’, the Norwegian quartet paint scenes of an empty world springing back to life, and the difficulties of the prospect of readjustment.

A rolling rhythm and chiming guitar pave the way for a strolling bass motif and they coalesce into a spacious, reflective soundscape that sits between A-Ha, Editors, and mid-80s U2 and Simple Minds. Things kick up a notch and even nod toward anthemic around the mid-point of this six-and-a-half minute epic, before blossoming fully for a mesmerising final minute, where it soars on every level as they cast their eye to a brighter future: not the chalk-drawn rainbow on the pavement featured on the cover art, but a life of fulfilment, a re-emergence from the stasis of the now to actually living, rather than merely existing.

For a ‘little’ band, they have a big, ambitious sound that’s also got big audience potential. Here’s hoping they fulfil it.

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