On his second album Gebrauchsmusik, young Swedish composer and producer Marcus Fjellstrom has created a release of eerie post classical music that doesn't pretend to be friendly or warm. In fact, the title of the release roughly translates (German) to "utility music," and his squirming compositions bristle with electronically-filtered strings, prepared piano, and percussion. The result is an album that's definitely on the uneasy side, with track titles that reference both War, Death, and Fairytales (but certainly not ones with happy endings).
"Reanimation Music" opens the release and sounds somewhat like you might expect given the title, as layers of heavily-filtered voices twitch and moan while trying to break free from some sort of digital morass as sloshing percussion and filtered woodwinds make an even more unsteady backdrop. "War Music, 1st Perspective" follows, and it's easily one of the best tracks on the entire release, as skittering, chromatic beats swarm together and create a rustling backdrop for some broken piano notes and pitch-bent strings that sound downright horror show.
As mentioned above, both "Fairy Tale, 1st Perspective" and "Fairy Tale, 2nd Perspective" are definitely more on the haunting side of things than something you'd want to play for a small child before bed. The former features muffled voices speaking out some unintelligible words under more dissonant strings, while the latter is flat-out evil, with the voice again coming back as more distorted screams and moans play out alongside queasy string stabs and gritty static.
So the album goes, with themes being revisited depending on the track titles and ideas being presented. All three parts of War Music are more rhythmic, with chattering percussion and heavy tones, while the Dance Music pieces take on slightly lighter feels, but still move as if encumbered by grit and decay. As expected, the two Death Music pieces are deep drones that are dark enough to imagine them simply being the accompaniment to having your own casket lowered into the ground. Even though the total running length of Gebrauchsmusik is under fifty minutes, it feels longer because of the cold and oppressive compositions. If you're interested in wallowing, this one won't nudge you out from under a black cloud.