Sunday, February 13, 2011

Owl Splinters

When i was a young man, my friends & i used to like to drive out to the frozen beaches of Lake Michigan, during the winter. We would play on the treacherous shelf-ice, staying well after dark, watching nuclear sunsets over frozen waves, suspended in time. It felt dangerous, sure, but also exhilirating; wild, but also quiet and contemplative. Most of all, it seemed as if we had stepped into another reality, pulling back the purple velvet curtain of twilight; that we were the only people, anywhere.
I've heard Deaf Center's music described as 'desolate'. To me, it definitely has the feeling of examining something vast, something immense, but it does not strike me as empty nor malevolent. Erik Skodvin, one half of the Norwegian duo, is adept at evoking cinematic moods, whether in Deaf Center, or his myriad of solo ventures, such as Svarte Greiner. But where Svarte Greiner is dipped in pitch-black menace, Owl Splinters seems more Solaris than Fri. the 13th.
The pieces, as a whole, tend to flow into another, making a cohesive album, without a stand-out single, per se, although a listener new to their world might start with Time Spent, with its light, minor-key piano lament, or I Would Never Have with its swells of cello feedback, to get a sense of what these two are on about. Overall, the mood is one of a 70s kodachrome saturated thriller, like Satie furniture music observed through thin walls, something ominous, something sad. Most of the album consists of cello and piano, and perhaps it is the organic source of their sounds, and their classical backgrounds, that make Deaf Center stand head and shoulders above their stony, drony brethren. Great care is obviously taken with the placement of each note, the gaps filled with ambience, like reverbs and surface crackle; and musically, they are more adept than yr average bedroom-composer, with slight, masterful dissonances, creating even more mood and texture.
Everything i've ever heard by either of these guys has seemed wholly realized, a world unto itself. I was ecstatic when i realized that they had a new full-length out, as its been over 5 years since their debut, Pale Ravine. I fell in love, instantly, with the new record, and looked forward to listening to it over and over again, to write this review. I designate the status of Instant Classic, and i don't say these things lightly. Its like something just seems right, like you just found the record yr going to be sleeping to for the next 3 months. Most tellingly, for me, is that Deaf Center seems to manifest things from my subconscious, things i don't know that i know, or never quite knew how to say. Its like we're neighbors, in the same haunted hotel. No matter how many times i encounter this with music or art in general, it never ceases to amaze me, or fill me with gratitude.

This is a perfect 10. Check it, now! Then buy 5 copies. Give 'em away as Valentines.



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