Black Tie is the latest missive from Erik Skodvin’s Svarte Greiner project, one that seems to get more grim with each successive notch in the wood. Originally conceived as the soundtrack to an installation by Norwegian artist Marit Følstad, it became the jumping off point for this desolate full-length. Doom reverberates in each crackle of static, each guitar echoing discordant, directionless into the void. Rolling ambience creeps up like a plague covering everything in an opaque white sheen. It’s an album of blurred shapes, sometimes hiding in the dark corners of the room, sometimes as phantoms moaning like strings stretched to their breaking point, an eye turned toward the dirt. ”Black Tie,” like most Svarte Greiner releases, is an experience. It creaks like old bones coming to life, finding one last reason to keep moving forward. Skodvin is happy to keep haunting nightmares until the next chapter is ready to begin. Big recommendation. - Brad Rose, Experimedia
B/B/S/ may be a new band name, but but with releases in various guises by Room 40, Important, Type, and Sonic Pieces, its members are anything but. Aidan Baker, Andrea Belfi, and Erik Skodvin come together on this, the group’s debut LP, to form a improvisational unit that holds ominous clatter and darkly psychedelic tendencies in high regard. Interestingly, it’s not at all what you would expect from such a collaboration. The trio shows surprising restraint throughout the album, opting for subtle interactions and minimalist movements that are just as apt to feature silence as peals of guitar feedback. As much drone as it is rock, “Brick Mask” ends up approximating what could be happening underneath a Sunn O))) recording. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia
Gabriel Saloman almost certainly isn’t the first person you would associate with the now defunct Yellow Swans (that would be its namesake, Pete Swanson), but based on “Adhere” that assumption may be changing in the future. The album, Saloman’s first solo full-length, is a perplexing and endlessly interesting work that dials back the squall and feedback often associated with his former band to reveal a contemplative album that thrives on detail and nuance. Synthesizer waves often streak and glisten, but they never obscure the layers of piano and percussion that are the central components to most of the seven pieces on “Adhere.” The album definitely veers from the established Yellow Swans template and avoids much of the darkness usually affiliated with the Miasmah label and in doing so Saloman has produced an original work that defies easy categorization and promotes intensive listening. – Ryan Potts, Experimedia
If for no other reason, the Miasmah label should be commended for cultivating an aesthetic and sticking to it. Home to artists such as Kreng, Elegi, Jacaszek and Greg Haines, it has steadily issued baroque, ghostly post-classical records with eye towards consistency and pace over the last few years, and, to my ears, “Gramercy,” the product of a well-suited collaboration between Gareth Davis and Frances-Marie Uitti, is one of their finest outings to date. On “Detour” Uitti’s bowed and scraped strings engulf Davis’ clarinet, hovering thick and suffocating in the air. The atmosphere cultivated by the pair over the course of this long-form recording is nothing short of remarkable. With any Miasmah release, words like “haunting,” “noir,” and “spectral” are bound to pop up in critical appraisals. In my estimation, “Gramercy” should give us pause to add another term to this list: “focus.” - Alex Cobb, Experimedia
The less we know about Belgian sound alchemist Pepijn Caudron aka Kreng, the better. We know his debut release L’Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu (MIA 010CD) appeared seemingly out of nowhere on the Miasmah label in 2009, but other than that, very little tangible information has surfaced. This sequel, the blackly-monikered Grimoire simply re-enforces Caudron’s shadowy legacy with a similarly dank concoction of cracked strings, creaking percussion and half-heard dialogue. Thankfully, however, Caudron has refined his craft in every way, from the artfully-restrained layering of samples to the deliriously magickal atmosphere he manages to conjure up. There is the sense even from the first few seconds of the record that you are transported out of time and reality, and as hoarse, alien breaths croak over oily bass drones, the poignant spoken words “You don’t belong here” become an apt anchor for the entire album. It seems almost too easy to compare Grimoire to a film soundtrack at this point; sure, Caudron has listened to his fair share of chilling scores but Grimoire is more than simply homage, and maybe the clue is in the title itself. Grimoires are books of magic, the most important of which had a stranglehold on cultures both ancient and more recently than most people probably care to realize. These books have slipped into folklore and legend, and like those faded pages of incantations, there is something deeply mystical and indescribable about Kreng’s music. Caudron’s background in theater no doubt forms a strong foundation for his compositions, but there is so much about his work that only creeps into the light after countless hours of study. These songs are best suited to moonlight, strong spice-laced liquors and the dark recesses of our painfully dull existence. Pepijn Caudron has formed a grimy, surreal ode to not only the past, but also what the future might hold, and from the sounds of it, we’re not getting off lightly.