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Brutter: Brutter

Brutter's self-titled debut isn't your typical Hubro recording—which is not to suggest that the label's wide-ranging discography can easily be pigeonholed in the first place. But the thirty-four-minute outing does extend Hubro into territory unusual for the label, namely electronic soundscaping, and that it was mastered by Helge Sten (aka Deathprod) at his Audio Virus Lab says much about the character of the material on this vinyl release (available in an edition of 300 numbered copies with a download code).

It's a new project by the brothers Christian and Fredrik Wallumrød, who bring ample experience to the project. A familiar name in ECM circles, Christian is well-known for his own ensemble and his quartet Dans Les Arbres and earlier this year released the solo piano album Pianokammer on Hubro. Fredrik, on the other hand, has established himself as a rock and metal musician with a number of bands (Span, El Caco, Dog Almighty) and plays with Jarle Bernhoft and Susanna. Though Christian is generally associated with acoustic music, he also has a background in improvised electronic music, and on this date he's credited with drum machines, synth, and electronics, his brother drums and electronics.

On side A, the fifteen-minute “Geigered” lurches forward, its bass throbs etching out a lugubrious space for other slow-motion convulsions to follow. Ticking noises and percussive clicks merge into the swelling mass, the music consequently assuming the form of some lumbering mechanism that, like an injured creature, emits an occasional squawk and writhes in seeming pain as the minutes pass. Slightly more animated by comparison, the short “Radiopuls” perpetuates the lurching motion of the opener whilst also weaving Fredrik's acoustic drumming into the mix. The flip's side-long “Badminton Bleak” stumbles into position via offsetting pulses and then, grimy punctuations, spiky stabs, and snare strikes aside, lumbers with modest alteration in dynamics or intensity for sixteen minutes.

The music the siblings craft on Brutter is interesting, even if the final result doesn't wholly satisfy. The tracks contain little in the way of melody, the material is dry and low-key, and if anything the music often feels as if the machines are playing themselves rather than being overseen by the Wallumrøds; the mere fact that two of the titles reference machine-based pulsation is itself telling. Brutter should perhaps best be broached as an experimental project whose improvs focus largely on percussive interplay and electronic design and downplay melody and conventional compositional form.

October 2015