Svalastog - Woodwork
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Svalastog
Woodwork

While explaining this release to a friend, I casually remarked that this artist on Rune Grammofon (Svalastog) played a cow's horn and some other antiquated instruments and then filtered them and added some programming. My nonchalant mention of this drew a laugh, and it was only when he laughed that I realized how artsy-fartsy I must have sounded; talking about a release that used a cow's horn as a major instrument with a straight face and an unintentionally dead-serious tone of voice.

Perhaps it says something about my own musical listening habits when I didn't blink an eye upon finding out that Svalastog uses not only a Kuhorn (cow's horn), but also a Harpeleik (Norwegian zither), and a Bukkehorn (ram's horn) on Woodwork. Listening to the release, one would be hard-pressed to isolate the instruments themselves, as Per Hendrik Svalastog has incorporated all their sounds into his blend of minimal electronic music in a way that serves the songs themselves rather than being difficult.

Instead, Woodwork doesn't sound too far removed from work by artists such as Jan Jelinek and possibly even Matmos, as sampled instrumentation is melded into hazy, somewhat murky slabs of slithering electronic music. "The Wood Metal Friction" opens the release, and if you're listening for the bellow of the horns, you can hear them as wheezy drones hang and stretch out over some smooth programmed rhythms that ooze forward. "Connecting Joints" is even more successful, as hard-panned loops of zither zip back and forth between channels in both forward and reverse while more mercurial programming again pushes things forward in a heaving way.

Despite the very archaic instruments used in the making of the release, this is definitely an album that feels very modern. "Mouse Tracking" is another track that makes use of almost dizzying stereo effects as backwards and forwards loops slow down and speed up and dance back and forth between channels as deep and heavy beats and bass rumbles underneath. Despite all the cool sounds and obviously unique sound sources, Woodwork does start to recycle itself a bit over the course of forty-five minutes as similar sounds become the crux of several songs and familiar rhythmic shuffles recycle earlier album building blocks. There's some excellent stuff on the release, and it's certainly a bit different than most, but it falls into a bit of rut in places.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2006-09-28 21:27:32