Dull suburbia has been an inspiration for electronica music replete; just look at the infinite pale-colored sprawls in Germany and it’s ever-burgeoning scene. Something about the tediousness of cement pavements, routine, soullessness, humans parked together in oversized buildings like pigs cushioned comfortably in a silver bidet. From this erupts some of the greatest modern music; and Norway’s Øystein Kapperud is among the ranks of those challenging the landscapes that’ve killed our senses. If anyone’s ever travelled a bit east of Oslo, seen the over baked shopping lawns, hordes of elderly, the ethnic ghettos, just that pale-lit greyness in everybody’s eyes– it’s the kinda place young people either stir up mischief or vow to get the fuck outta. I once assisted Norwegian artist Knut Åsdam in his research for a film of one such place, Grorud 1, or Grouddalen, in his architectural exploration of the area. Makeshift hills, recently planted trees, playgrounds, and a reek of monotony. His is an interesting view into the psychology of Norwegian building development, the quiet rise and falling. Kapperud’s instrumental-electronic pieces are not dissimilar; at moments we’re inside a self-contained empty, concrete room, stuck with nothing but the sound of drops of water, the echoing of water pipes, a distant scuffling of feet, and a harpooned cry by, grandma? That’s on final track “Allie, don’t let me disappear”.
The album kicks off with, “Leland Wrapped in Plastic”, a likely allusion to Twin Peaks, and evokes a blur of chaos with wild trumpets blending in a Fenneszian flush, like cicadas attacking a black forest. It’s a short-lived track albeit creepy, leading into track two, “Cinema”, which has a more “introductory” character to this album. It’s a bit reminiscent of the Acher brothers of Notwist, with an air of German-label Morr Records releases, a dreamy sound mixed in with hard digital electronic processing and effects. The emotive Twin Peaks theme continues into tracks like “Exit Music (For Cinema)” or “Mary X” with a constancy of backwards-vocals as if we’re trapped in the red room, in a dream state with Dale Cooper-under-the-influence. “Drums” is more emotionless then others, a sudden playfulness arises and concentration on building beats or grooves instead of still landscapes. Tracks like “Vikane” are indicative of the album of a whole, a varying dynamic of silence and noise, as one would find in the rural country. Familiar sounds from creaking doors to a sudden unison of chiming bells; in a manner to church bells bellowing and interrupting a peaceful town mid-afternoon.
My favourite tracks have been, “Intermission #1” and “Four Red Cars in A Row”– fragile and slow-moving; should you find yourself driving around boring scenery, these tracks resurrect dead life into a haunting symphony. The piano melody on the latter track is epic. It bares similarities to Leyland Kirby’s breathtaking album, When We Parted My Heart Wanted to Die, or Brian Morant’s interpretation of one of the UK’s greyest towns, in his song “Travelodge, Derby: Kristallo Overheard”.
It’s no joke, I have a penchant for music such as this– for others it may be difficult. Somewhere I believe our ears are meant to be conditioned to the veins of the natural, minuscule variances in sound participating in the territory around us. As Kapperud and a host of others experiment with this process, I find theirs is a more soulful and stimulating journey– so much more then the most soulful blues-rock band, shoving “E” down our throats.