sat 15/06/2024

Album: Deathprod - Compositions | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Deathprod - Compositions

Album: Deathprod - Compositions

Norwegian ambient abstraction just keeps on keeping on

Ambient is everywhere now. After a quiet (lol) 2000s, when it rather disappeared into the cracks, perhaps tarred with the sense that the more cosmic sides of the Nineties rave experience were passé, beatless music steadily rose in profile through the 2010s – aided by the rise of “post-classical”, increased accustomisation to home cinema and immersive gaming soundtracks, the wellness movement.

Finally came lockdown isolation and a slew of former dance artists finding they’d always had an ambient side, and we reach the point where you can’t move for pulses, throbs and audio floatation.

Formerly niche artists are earning surprisingly healthily from providing soundscapes for health apps, while prestige dramas are soundtracked by odd and abstract sounds that a decade ago would have been the province only of the very arty or the very druggy. All of which must be kind of perplexing for artists who’ve been in the ambient space long term – for example, Helge “Deathprod” Sten, who’s been creating undulating sheets of sound since 1991.

On this set of new pieces, each just titled “Composition” 1-17, Sten does the same thing he always has – avoiding computers and building his flow of sound from guitars and old audio hardware, with drones, electrical hisses and controlled feedback ebbing and flowing around one another. It’s not conventionally harmonic, but neither is it completely atonal: there’s a personal musical language going on here which could be bleak yet, while it’s a million miles from new age yoga niceness, is actually strangely warming.

The sketch-like nature of the tracks – some under one minute, and none more than four – makes for a fascinating experience, as it highlights just how hypnotic Sten’s tones are. That is to say, you can find yourself drifting away into the soundscape very quickly indeed, only to be surprised by the shift to the next track. Those surprises, though, don’t distract from the overall flow of sound too much: and indeed there’s the sense of a deeper flow still – if it’s not too on the nose to use an arctic similar for Norwegian music, it’s like the head of a glacier, flowing through the decades, completely without heed to fashionability or otherwise.

@joemuggs

Hear "Composition 1":

If it’s not too on the nose to use an arctic simile for Norwegian music, it’s like the head of a glacier, flowing through the decades

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