Dag Rosenqvist and Simon Scott: Conformists
Low Point

A listener coming to this collaboration between Dag Rosenqvist (aka Jasper TX) and Simon Scott without any background information might expect to be met with a fiery showdown between two heavy-hitting guitar experimentalists. But such expectations would be met with disappointment as the duo instead move in the exact opposite direction. They do so for perfectly legitimate reasons, however, as Conformists isn't a pure summit meeting between the two but a soundtrack album for a short film of the same name the two collaborated on. The album's forty minutes are evenly split between two sides of a limited-edition white vinyl album, and as a result the album's ten songs naturally organize themselves into two side-long suites. Film-maker Juriaan Booij initially pitched the idea to Rosenqvist who, armed with only a simple story outline and basic storyboard drawings, contacted Scott about the idea of collaborating on the project. A period of long-distance file sharing ensued until the album's ten pieces reached their final form (that the album is designed to stand alone separately from the film is borne out by the fact that the film is a mere twenty minutes in length—half the length of the album).

And how does it sound? It's understated, restrained, atmospheric, and evocative—heavily cinematic, in other words. An image of a depopulated city of worn-out factories and buildings coated in grey dusk is suggested by the material (in that regard the pastoral album cover photo proves misleading). “He Left the City Broken” slowly comes into focus with whistling tones drifting hazily into position and ever so imperceptibly swelling in size as washes and ripples appear before fading away to let “Failing Lights” take over. Once again, the duo opt for atmospheric mood painting of a low-level kind, an approach that will be applied to the project as a whole, despite occasional moments where the marked contrasts in volume and activity surface (“Dialogue,” with its neon-lit bursts, a case in point). At the close of side one, storm-tossed elements gather along the horizon, accompanied by murmuring voices, before the No Pussyfooting ambient stylings of side two emerge and grow into a prickly field of convulsions and static. The second side's material exudes a stronger industrial flavour, and the ambient-drones are a tad darker in tone than the settings on side one. Despite the understated approach Rosenqvist and Scott bring to the project, there's no doubt that they're kindred spirits with a shared vision for the project, and track titles such as “Ghosts” and “And I Will Quietly Go (Into This Night)” (an obvious twist on Dylan Thomas's well-known poem) clearly speak to the material's spectral nature.

March 2011