Saturday, May 3, 2014

METATAG "Transmission" (Hel Audio)

In Scandinavia, summer nights never become midnight black. The sky, while star filled, only gets to be a navy blue at two in the morning. It's not too long before the sun returns.

The flip side is in the winter the sun only makes appearances for short amounts of time during the day.

To some this may sound enchanting, to others it may sound downright depressing. It takes a certain type of person to embrace and thrive in the short days of winter ... most don't have the patience to shovel snow all winter long to receive the payoff of literally endless summer nights...

Metatag's "Transmission", an electronic two piece from Norway, are able to musically convey a lonely Scandinavian winter night. All the tracks are Minimal, meditative and most are minor in scale. All the tracks are slow to almost be classified as drone. The songs are ambient and repetitive in melody. Each track is gentle, although at times some tracks are also eerie to have an almost early John Carpenter horror soundtrack-synth vibe . Almost all the instruments I hear originate from electronic keyboards. Melodies loop and are occasionally reduced to mere pulsating frequencies. Percussion is almost completely absent from the release (with the exception of some looping metronome clicks here and there).

At times this cassette is SO minimal it is difficult to even categorize these little sonic vignettes as songs or even soundscapes. The sounds made can be so basic they run the risk of making an audience nod off. Fortunately, Metatag understands that these vignettes need to be brief in order to be successful, so you never sit too long with a boring melody.

Metatag's intentional restraint is compelling and unique. It's an idea that is investigated to its full extent for sixty minutes. Unfortunately, its tiring after a while. By minute fifty I'm ready for this cassette to end like a boy in Church dying for sermon to end so he can have fun outside for the rest of his Sunday. I'm glad Metatag investigated the idea of drone dread and minimal melancholy melody, but hopefully they're next release will be in a radically different direction. Or perhaps I'm just not made out for lonely Scandinavian winters ...

Buy and stream the album here ...
http://www.helaudio.org/catalog/009/

-- Jack Turnbull

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