Multicast Dynamics: Scandinavia
Denovali Records

If you didn't know otherwise, you might identify Scandinavia as an early ambient side-project by Pole. It's not, obviously; instead, it's the third chapter in a four-part series by electronic music producer and sound designer Samuel van Dijk that took flight earlier this year with the release of its first two parts. Under the Multicast Dynamics alias, the Dutch artist indulges his ambient soundscaping side, whereas others come to the fore in the material he releases as Mohlao and VC-118A.

Like many a producer operating in the genre today, van Dijk uses field recordings, processed sound textures, granular synthesis, delay units, and looping techniques to generate his dense, multi-layered productions. The material percolates and pulses at a relatively low-level pitch such that one could underappreciate the degree to which it mutates. Anything but static, the typical Multicast Dynamics setting is a constantly if subtly evolving organism, liquid in nature and form as opposed to solid and fixed.

Pole (early Pole, admittedly) comes to mind the moment “Routa” appears, specifically when blurry noises and cavernous rumblings are accented by a bass line so deep it feels as if it's welling up from the earth's center, and with crackling textures spattering the mass, the Pole connection asserts itself all the more strongly. After that scene-setter, the recording escalates to a more aggressive pitch when a throbbing bass pulse drives “Massa” along without sacrificing any of the material's textural focus in the process. It and the later “IMU” are somewhat of an exception to the rule, however, as a generous amount of Scandinavia eschews beat pulses to concentrate on an arhythmic sound design that's so aquatically deep it suggests a strong connection to dub (e.g., “Muodossa”). The album's soundworlds teem with all manner of sonar signals, rumblings, whooshes, and burbles, the sum-total of which makes you feel as if you're exploring the depths of the Norwegian Sea than trudging through remote Scandinavian terrain.

The inclusion of “Muodossa (VC-118A Reshape)” at disc's end isn't unwelcome, though its punchy, rhythm-centric treatment does make it inconsistent with the eight tracks preceding it. Such an animated treatment is disconcerting but not so much for the way it disrupts the recording's uniformity; instead, it suggests how much more engaging and interesting Scandinavia might have been had more of such clubby makeovers been included. Here's that rare case where a double-CD set, the first half dedicated to the eight opening pieces and the second to a corresponding set of VC-118A versions, would have made a lot of sense.

November 2015