Svarte Greiner: Kappe
Type Records

With Kappe following rapidly on the heels of In Bocca Al Lupo , Xela (Type Records' John Twells) and Svarte Greiner (Deaf Center member and Miasmah head Erik Skodvin) would seem to be hell-bent on establishing a new genre of nightmarish soundscaping one might christen “doom ambient.” Certainly Kappe, Skodvin's second Svarte Greiner full-length, is about as disturbing a collection of music-making as one might imagine, a veritable forty-four-minute journey through Hades' blackest corridors that Skodvin assembles using acoustic instruments (strings, percussion, guitar), electronics and field recordings.

“Tunnel of Love”—credit Skodvin for having a sense of humour—sets the album's harrowing tone with seven minutes of hellish moans and rattling chains, all of it underscored by a black undercurrent of swelling bass drone. At the other end, sheets of coal-black haze creak and moan throughout the aptly-titled outro “Last Light.” An aura of apocalyptic doom hovers over “Candle Light Dinner Actress,” a sixteen-minute, slow-burning colossus that drags anguished yelps, distant thudding, and high-pitched squeals through the blood-soaked muck as it crawls towards its crushing close. Adding to the oppressive gloom are eviscerating squeals courtesy of Ultralyd saxophone player Kjetil Møster. It's the second track, however, which is the most ear-catching of the four, simply because its thirteen minutes are given over entirely to electric guitar. The sounds Skodvin wrenches from the instrument are something else altogether. After initiating the piece with modestly unsettling, feedback-drenched shudders and wails, he progressively intensifies the attack until the full, violent measure of the six-string onslaught is felt.

Though in one sense it may seem rather peculiar that Skodvin et al. are pursuing such a stylistic path, given how uncompromisingly bleak in spirit it is, the popularity of doomslayers such as Nadja and Fear Falls Burning proves that there's clearly an audience hungry for it. Regardless, Kappe makes for a powerful, wrist-slitting complement to In Bocca Al Lupo.

February 2009