Roll The Dice: Roll The Dice

Swedish duo Peder Mannerfelt (aka The Subliminal Kid and Fever Ray associate) and Malcolm Pardon (a producer of music for film and TV) bring a bold production methodology to their official debut recording under the name Roll the Dice. With the two having shared a studio in southern Stockholm for several years, they chose to, yes, roll the dice when they decided to work together; specifically, they committed themselves to tackling each session by proceeding with no pro-conceived ideas and finishing a track by session's end. Other constraints were imposed too: all of the purely analog material had to be constructed using synthesizers and piano only—no computer processing or drum machines allowed—, a strategy that gives the material an early-‘70s vibe and nostalgically imbues it with the innocent aura of that earlier time. Judging by the material presented on their eponymously titled album, such self-imposed constraints abetted rather than frustrated the pair's collaborative venture.

“The New Black” inaugurates the album in Tangerine Dream mode with cycling synthesizer patterns, but the mood soon shifts from the barren cool of pure synthetics when layers of piano melodies challenge the pulsations and whooshes for supremacy, the tune seeming almost as if two separate pieces have been stitched together, the one a classic riff on kosmische musik and the other a brooding piano-based exploration. The patience and confidence that characterizes the duo's music can clearly be heard in “Axel,” where piano-driven patterns, so metronomic they grow hypnotic, are allowed to unfold as they naturally should, and in “Guadeloupe,” where the combination of acoustic piano, electronics, and simple percussion patterns can't help but call to mind the Cluster & Eno collaborations of so many years ago. Roll the Dice is also, however, careful to not let the material drag itself out until it wears out its welcome. In short, a well-considered balance between repetition and development is largely struck in the album's nine settings, a quality that even applies to the two longer pieces, “Swing” and the ever-intensifying “Undertow,” both of which pulsate with purposeful thrust like lost Phaedra out-takes.

June 2010