Svarte Greiner :: Black Tie (Miasmah)

Black Tie is a real return to form for the Miasmah label and continues the Svarte Greiner saga with two extended tracks of chilling, contemporary dark ambiance.

svarte greiner - black tieWhether it’s Kaboom Karavan’s overwhelmingly atmospheric and creepy Barra Barra, Kreng’s full-on horror-fests L’Autopsie Phenomenal de dieu and Grimoire, or Jacaszek’s soulful and deeply moving classical Treny, Miasmah albums are almost always full on sensory or hallucinatory experiences that immerse you its dark and mysterious universe. If that has been less prevalent of late it may be in part due to its closer ties to the modern-classical imprint, Sonic Pieces. Consequently, albums like Gareth Davies & Frances Marie-Uitti’s Gramercy or the B/B/S album Brick Mask blur the lines between the two, their more roundly acoustic or modern classical approach more closely aligned with Sonic Pieces than Miasmah’s electronically enhanced dark ambient waters.

Black Tie, then, is something of a return to form for the label, and surprisingly Skodvin’s first solo release of his own material on the label. It picks up the trail left by three previous Svarte Greiner albums released on Type, each of which demonstrated a clear evolution of his sound that anticipated or reflected the latest trends in the dark ambient genre. Whereas Knive was a nine-track, full length LP with extensive field recordings, cinematic scope, and a clear narrative structure, Kappe went right for the jugular with four visceral, abstract horror drones, and the forty-five minute bonus album Twin distilled his sound even further with its single track take on Deaf Center’s Owl Splinters.

This distilled form continues with “Black Tie,” which opens with the regular twang of cello and distant, twisted metallic drone, before solo cello zithers emerge from the shadows and, over the course of six minutes, the zither turns to vibrato drone as the piece extends into murky, cavernous depths. It then evolves into a far more sinister beast, a hollow, ever-present and background clatter and scrape, skittering unseen in its dank recesses, as shocking stabs of stinging electric guitar lash from the depths. It’s one of the most nerve-shredding movements in a Svarte Greiner piece to date, as unpredictable as it is unsettling until it finally escapes the labyrinth, emerging into the comparative safety of the open air in its closing minutes.

Better still is “White Noise” that may well be one of the finest pieces of music Skodvin has yet created. Featuring the kind of planet-shaking, blossoming sub-bass, frozen drones and off the horizon distance of a Thomas Köner epic, Skodvin adds uneasy eastern strings and a drawn out cello wail that slowly and ominously closes the gap between it and the listener like a muted, glowing apparition gliding across open space. The o-mouthed wailing eventually fades away and the titular white noise rises in the closing six minutes, but the threat of an ascent into a tortured wall of sound never comes. Instead, “White Noise” remains surprisingly contained, its accelerated bass thrum and rhythmic pounding underpinning amplified, shape-shifting mechanical drone tones, turning the tack into a kind of demented dark ambient techno workout.

That Skodvin has adopted a modus operandi that mirrors that of Kreng in his Works For Abattoir Fermé 2007 – 2011 yields exceptionally compelling results but with that said, Black Tie is yet another album perpetuating the current trend by certain record labels of releasing “albums” that consist of only two tracks. Both “Black Tie” and “White Noise” clock in at an impressively paced twenty-one minutes apiece, but it does leave the listener wanting more. Nevertheless, Black Tie is another essential gem in the Svarte Greiner crown.

Black Tie is available now on Miasmah. [Release page | Erik K. Skodvin]

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