Svartbag: Svartbag

Elements of space-rock, noise-rock, industrial, drones, psychedelia, and early electronic music meld into five molten wholes in Svartbag's self-titled debut. A.REX and Niels Ladefoged first merged their effects-laden electric guitars in 1996, adopted the group name five years later, and extended their sound into deeper experimental territory with the addition of electronics specialist Peter Kyed in 2005. On occasion, the trio becomes a quartet when joined by Andreas Hauer-Jensen whose drumming appears on four of the album's five tracks. Their recording amounts to fifty heady minutes of dystopic drones where encrusted guitars bleed into one another and, punctuated by pounding drums, swell into cyclones. A typical track starts quietly and slowly expands into a crushing wall-of-sound, with repetition exploited for maximum hypnotic impact.

Sounding like lost Velvet Underground or Sonic Youth jams, “Black Capricorn” opens the album with a slow-burning lurch of guitars and tribal drums while the fourteen-minute closer “Billy Name” pays homage to The Factory by pairing voices of Warhol hangers-on from the ‘60s with a primitive plod of guitar wail and feedback; the total sound mass deepens considerably when Peter Peter brings his own roar to Svartbag's existing attack. In keeping with its trippy title, “The Flutist” weaves fractured Fripp-styled lines through dense prog-psychedelic foliage, and the drones “Cairo” and “Loop#9” showcase congealing slabs of drums, organ, and guitars that both scald and twang. Picture the still-smoldering ruins of an incinerated cityscape after nuclear meltdown and you've got the perfect band for the accompanying soundtrack.

July 2008