Not all of Stereogum’s favorite sounds conform to what folks expect us to cover. In this space, resident Bananafish fetishist Brandon Stosuy focuses on bands, albums, singles, and villages in Sweden that may otherwise pass by unnoticed. This week’s eclectic virtual milk crate contains Ole-Henrik Moe, HTRK, Hild Sofie Tafjord and something extra from John Wiese.
The end of the year — its best of lists and shopping gridlock, a rat-racing info overload — drives me a little crazy. That in mind, I was thinking it’d be nice to offer some supremely spacious music like Norwegian composer/improviser Ole-Henrick Moe’s recent offering, Ciaccona/3 Persephone Perceptions, which came out last month on always reliable Rune Grammofon. It’s a double disc, containing two lengthy pieces for solo violin (43 and 40 minutes, respectively). Moe’s played as “OHM” on a number of records by Rune-associated acts like Deathprod, Nils Økland, and the White Birch. Here, he’s written the compositions, but his wife, Kari Rønnekleiv, handles the bow. The result is a jagged, precisely intense trip — sometimes silent for what feels like minutes, other times bristling with a manic, dark energy before pacing into less brittle, daggered notes and ghostly choruses. Really bad ass, and maybe not as quiet as I’d thought when I was listening to the entire piece, but at least there are no human voices messing with the gaps and pauses. The first two excerpts posted below run concurrently at the beginning of Ciaconna — the disc has the segments divided into tracks, but it’s to be listened to as a whole. The third MP3 is the final segment of 3 Persephone Perceptions. (When that last part comes in, it hits like KK Null.) The liner notes, written by fellow Norwegian composers Cecilie Ore and Rolf Wallin, mention “both pieces stem from personal experience. Ciaconna is connected with the death of Ole-Henrik Moe’s former teacher Iannis Xenakis, 3 Persephone Perceptions with memories from childhood.” Memories of what, exactly? I have my money on a blizzard of some sort — emotional or otherwise.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to go full-on classical. Admittedly, I feel like a duck out of water talking about that sort of thing, but the album seriously hit me like an icier, more spare Wold … if Jóhann Jóhannsson was piloting the ship, not Fortress Crookedjaw (okay, among plenty other stylistic shifts). A different kind of group that gives me similar sorts of chills is HTRK (Hate Rock), a trio from Melbourne, who’ve been around since 2003, and who currently reside in Berlin. Fitting with their shadowy, no wave sound, they’ve been opening up for Liars on their European tour (and hopefully the US?). The group doesn’t have an official full-length debut out jyet, but they’ve already mastered a zoned-out, post-Suicide dark pummel. Portishead with a Teenage Jesus vibe? In the latest issue of Terrorizer, guitarist/electronics tweaker Nigel Yang tells the magazine, “I am a nihilist into psychedelics.” HTRK, Yang along with Sean Stewart and compellingly disconnected frontwoman Jonnine Standish, are one of those groups who already have the style down pat: Beyond the Pussy Galore trash-rock vibe, they’re associated with (or at least pimping) the magazine They Shoot Homos Don’t They, sport a nicely oblique website, mention Bresson as an influence, etc. The sound? Reverberating guitar loops, electronic drums, and Standish’s dazed vocals (judging from YouTube clips, she also beats a drum with one hand). Their Nostalgia EP collects seven two-mic recordings from 2004 (it was initially self-released by the band in 2005 and then slapped on vinyl by Fire Records in ’07). Consider it an out-of-date stopgap while we await their proper debut. Hear a couple tracks, learn paths to a number more, and get a NSFW intro to the players after the jump.
You can hear another Nostalgia track, “Look What’s Been Done” over at one of the band’s various MySpace pages. Holy Mazzy Swans. In a similar MySpace fashion, they provide some non-Nostalgia material. More interestingly, though, are the two tracks from the forthcoming Marry Me Tonight. Go here … or, here. The new material’s produced by the Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard, along with Lindsay Gravina. Definitely one of my most anticipated listens for ’08.
Back to Scandinavia: Norwegian noise musician Hild Sofie Tafjord is a member of the duo Fe-Mail (which reminds me, No Fun’s soon — at the Knitting Factory this year), SPUNK, and Trinacria (with members of the supremely excellent Enslaved). She’s also collaborated with Wolf Eyes, Matmos, Carlo Giffoni (No Fun echo), Birchville Cat Motel, Ikue Mori, Fred Frith, etc. I pull out the laundry list because Kama’s her first solo album — and truly a beaut. It’s one 41-minute track with Tafjord’s French horn layered and mutilated into a Merzbow buzz. (She’s best known for horn, but also takes on flute, electronics, and sheet metal et al elsewhere.) Recorded in Oslo between September 2006 and February 2006, it builds and mutates, gaining force, cicada-buzzing, and extreme heights during its run. (Conversely, the handmade-sorta packaging via Pica Disk is really sweat– the CD slip case has some sorta felt in it, to keep the disc scratch free.) What I love most, though, is that it comes up as Diana Krall’s Na Ka Ta Ni in my iTunes. We can’t post all 41:06, but here’s an excerpt via label head, Jazzkamer, DEL, Nash Kontroll (etc.) dude, and all around Norwegian noisemaker, Lasse Marhaug. If you dig this wee monstrous gale, search out the rest via Pica Disk.
Speaking of Wolf Eyes collaborators, Sissy Spacek guy and one of Sunn 0)))’s more intriguing noise-friends, John Wiese’s first official full-length, the excellent Soft Punk has been out on Troubleman for a while, but listening to it over the weekend, I realized the ultra-prolific California white-noise sculptor’s “Spectral Hand” goes well with M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” so I thought I’d post it. Wiese has other tracks at his site. This past Thursday Mr. Wiese played as the Sissy Spacek 13-Tet at the Smell. Anyone videotape it? His band included No Age’s Dean Spunt, David Scott Stone (who has an interesting new record out on Spunt’s PPM label), Aaron from Liars (holy HTRK), Kate from Mika Miko, Tom of White Magic, etc. To get a sample of Sissy Spacek without all those extra noise bodies go over here. Oh, Wiese has also collaborated with Marhaug, if you want to tighten the narrative a little more.
Likely one of the gentlest Weise tracks you’ll ever hear. Consider it a Whitehouse lullaby, and another warm and fuzzy holiday gift from the Outsiders to you. While we’re talking gifts: Please send suggestions of other noises to brandon @ stereogum dot com. Much appreciated.