Tuesday, May 26, 2015

BJÖRN ERIKKSON
“Inner/Outer/Under” C30
(Scioto Records)

DOT
“One and the Same” C42
(Scioto Records)


BJÖRN ERIKKSON 

Before I even listened to this tape, I was immediately struck by how stunningly pretty the physical artifact looked. The J-card is minimally adorned, with artwork that looks to be either a leaf collage or severely treated stark forest growth. It’s beautiful – the artist, Ida Nyström, captures perfectly an impressionistic sense of natural beauty. The text is carefully handwritten, as is the clear cassette with white lettering. Without listening, my response is, “astounding.” Remarkable work.

A little background on Björn Eriksson: He’s from Sweden, Sollefteå, actually, and he’s also recorded under the names Miulew and International Garbageman, and knows his way around some electroacoustic composition. So as if that stylistically rendered natural-looking cover didn’t give it away, well, maybe you’re an idiot. Acoustic guitars, natural samples, tape loops, and all sorts of gobbledigook get tossed in Eriksson’s songwriting blender, and the result is a bizarre and exciting head trip through the woods, or the park, or the basement, or … something.

I’m pleased to announce that the tape begins with a squealing bit of hot folk action, with Eriksson’s guitar running madly through folk and blues tropes on “Inner Forest Glade” while samples cavort and invade, providing color commentary. You can almost imagine Eriksson, sitting on a hollow log in the woods, smiling rapturously as sentient hand tools busy themselves with various chores around him. This wacko Disney-fried picture disappears completely as the hand tools take over on “Outer Merry-Go-Round,” madly spinning and chirping and whirring and becoming untethered from song structure and, sure, reality.

“Under Stairs” ends the tape recalling the soundtrack to Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys with a Casio beat, and the samples are once again at least partially under control. As the fifteen-minute composition unfolds, the beat and tune drop out, and the samples merge with synths and organ (possibly, who knows for sure?). What results is an unsettling ambient showpiece, an experimental outsider collage of sound that’s as insular as its title suggests – it’s best enjoyed in the darkness of a broom closet, under stairs.

I don’t know much about a whole lot, but I do know that Scioto Records has a nice handful of releases that you should check out, starting with this one. There’s all kinds of crazy stuff to love, no matter what kind of experimental or art freak head you are, and it could even serve as a nice introduction to other electroacoustic artists, such is its accessibility. And again, it’s very pretty – you could probably just stick it on your mantle and be done with it.




--Ryan Masteller


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DOT
Makes sense that this tape is already sold out* at the source; what a patient exploration of glacially shifting tonal vignettes! Cusp after subtle cusp, minimal baggage crawls along hypnotically, daring you to consider three minutes ago’s juxtaposition, all the while keeping with a steady narrative that still manages to pull surprising sonic punches where best fitting. “Ambient/drone” is a vast region of unexplored territory and I’m goddamn hopeful that this person continues his explorations and shares them with us.

*note: the tape version has noticeably more ‘tape hiss’ than the bandcamp version, which might further reassure skittish listeners that they aren’t, in fact, actually being stalked by opportunists who have chosen to hide in the shadows beneath burnt out street lights, but are, really, still listening to recorded material. The first half of side A’s 21 minute track had me re-living every nightmarish alleyway echo between well-lit housing…and the ending…something between alien abduction and the final click before psychosis kicks in. 

I really hope this isn’t just a one off while Black Swans are on hiatus, but (also) a future focus for Keith Hanlon.

and/or


- - Jacob An Kittenplan

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