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Barbara Lüneburg

Jannick Schou: Act of Shimmering

Following rapidly on the heels of Against A Backdrop Of Blue Hills, They Were As Beautiful As A Lullaby, Jannick Schou's recent release on Dead Pilot Records, comes Act of Shimmering, the Denmark producer's addition to Experimedia's catalogue (vinyl-only, by the way, with 100 of the 300 twelve-inch copies presented on translucent blue vinyl). While real-world elements occasionally emerge on the earlier album's tracks, no such reference points surface during the new album's resolutely ethereal material.

It's a sonically challenging and epic ride through six settings (spread across two vinyl sides, each approximately twenty minutes in duration), the first of which, “Enormity of an Empty Sky,” requires no more than two minutes to swell into a pulsating, clamorous behemoth of towering force that relentlessly builds. The second piece, “We Are Silent,” is a raw and grime-encrusted affair, a sputtering sprawl of splintered, low-end distortion that churns combustibly, leaving metallic shards and shavings in its wake, while the third, “Act of Shimmering,” reins in the intensity in its opening moments before slowly building into an equally large-scale drone.

Side two's “Everything is Within You” undergoes a metamorphosis from bruising rumble into a churning vortex of monstrous scale. Drowning in a whirlpool of echo and shudder, “Emptiness Waiting To Be Filled” comes the closest of all the album's tracks to being an ambient-dub exercise; it wouldn't be inconceivable to imagine the piece appearing on an Echospace or Deepchord release, for example, though in that context it'd be accompanied by beat-based settings. Like a decimating tidal wave captured in ultra-slow motion, “Then Filling Your Pockets With Stones” ends the album with gargantuan salvos of beautiful noise.

Much of Act of Shimmering is apparently guitar-generated, though the treatments Schou has applied to the material lends it an ineffable and unidentifiable character. Rather than any one instrument sound being present, there is instead an incessantly seething fireball of indeterminate design. Though Act of Shimmering could be slotted quite legitimately into the noise genre, to do so would be rather misleading because whatever so-called noise is present doesn't grate on one's ears. Yes, it's music of immense power, but it's hardly cacophonous or chaotic. If anything, Schou brings a carefully controlling hand to the material, and consequently one comes away from the recording struck by its overall restraint and listenability.

August 2011