Compilations / Mixes
On this thirty-nine-minute vinyl outing for Hibernate, London-based Antony Harrison situates his Konntinent persona within extremely unsettling territory. By design, Kiruna, Harrison's first full-length Konntinent release for the label, is intended to be heard as a stand-alone work distinct from his previous Konntinent output, and it certainly is different in tone from the material Harrison's issued under the alias in the past. Let's be frank: to say that Kiruna is not light-hearted is an understatement—instead, it's an unrelentingly dark affair that wilfully inhabits a severe corner of the electronic music universe. The album was conceived and recorded in early 2011 with a bitterly cold London winter as a backdrop (the title, though, refers to the northern-most city in Sweden), and perhaps it is this that might account for the material's tone. The six tracks were culled from four improvised sessions involving analog instruments and external effects units.
Woozy arpeggios rise from murky depths during the gloom-cloaked “Hayashi Drag Track,” and in doing so immediately establish the album's character. The synthesizers here seem diseased, as if their circuits are corroded, and the piece ultimately plays like the aural equivalent of a spreading plague. That mood carries over into “Creep Sxene,” where the crawl of plodding rhythms is enlivened by the energized presence of flickering synth patterns, and “Fall City,” where a low-pitched piano note becomes the funereal pedal point for an assortment of atmospheric accents, most noticeably the distorted garble of a slowed-down voice. Convulsive feedback noise introduces “Issaquah,” though the noise mercifully recedes not too long into the piece, and thankful we can be also that the penultimate setting “Pulserand” opts for a relatively relaxing drone-like flow of synth chords and sputter. The closing piece, “The Settlement,” sounds like a submission Harrison might have made to the producers of The Walking Dead, so powerfully does its merciless blasts evoke the image of a scarred, zombie-infested landscape. “The Settlement” also suggests that one possible label one might conceive for Kiruna is industrial-ambient, and no doubt there exists a passionate legion of listeners hungry for such a genre-related offering.