Erik K Skodvin
Nothing left but silence
Is the lack of something still an entity within itself? Is the void an object that exists, although it’s full of empty space? And does the silence still contain a sound? These [along with other] questions are evoked through music and, of course, the title of Erik K Skodvin‘s third release for Sonic Places, which, as you may have already guessed, is his quietest to date. The track titles continue guiding us along the corridor with “Solemn steps” and “A walk on the edge” around “A silent moment in the periphery” towards the “Dreams of a new beginning,” their words uncapitalized and unassumed, imprinted like a poem, on a highly textural and minimal design of this 34th entry for the Berlin-based label. An insert holds a photo of a butterfly (a moth?) – how did it get inside this place? Subtitled “Musical improvisations and quiet collages from the subconscious”, we find Skodvin, alone with his guitar, reverb, and amp, recording these eight pieces on the boundary of quietude at Saal 3, Funkhaus in Berlin (by Nils Frahm in 2015). With plenty of delicious noise and shuffling lofi sounds on the periphery of hearing, Skodvin “creates a skeleton of eight hypnotic ragas that meanders in an eternal loop between ephemeral and singular.” At first, tranquil, delicate and frank, the music turns into an eerie requiem for us all, perpetually marching towards… that final place of no return… where nothing’s left for us to hear… where nothing’s left but silence…
Illusions in Indifference
It’s difficult to write about the music by bvdub without some sort of reference to the volume of output he produces every single year. It is impossible to truly keep track, but by my count, this is the fifth release of 2023, and that doesn’t include his collaboration with James Bernard (see Departing in Descent) or a 4xCD boxset of Earth House Hold project on ASIP. I swear, sometimes I put on his music secretly hoping that it would be crap so that I wouldn’t have to carve out the precious time it takes me to absorb an album and write about it, to share it with the world. And yet, here I am again, being absorbed into that mystical, all-enveloping, densely-layered and slightly distorted sound that has become the latest aesthetic of Brock Van Wey‘s music. What’s beautiful about its intentional levels of volume is that this seemingly accidental ambient music, with its somehow overwhelmingly sonic flood, has the capacity to drown out all other noise in your stupid fucking head and then, when it’s finally over, leave you a little bit empty, clear, and calm. It’s like a slap across the face to wake you the fuck up from your very own bullshit so that you can look around and appreciate the life you live. This album is an expression of struggling with mental health issues, something that Brock willingly admits in the opening statement of the release. “A problem not only nearly a billion people worldwide face in some way on a daily basis, but most of which begin in childhood, left unnoticed and untreated, silently growing into the monster it will one day become.” All proceeds of this release will be donated to Child Mind Institute to help disadvantaged children obtain mental health treatment. Please enjoy this music and help support the cause.
I’d like to conclude this Sound Bytes column with the latest album by Brad Deschamps, who appears as anthéne on quiet details imprint for their eighth catalog entry. Besides running his own influential label, Polar Seas Recordings, Deschamps managed to release music on many respected imprints (Home Normal, Hidden Vibes, Past Inside The Present, Dronarivm, whitelabrecs, Archives, Ambientologist, Constellation Tatsu, just to name drop a few) as well as collaborate with key players of the scene in projects like North Atlantic Drift, Rosales (with Ian Hawgood) and Still Harbours with (Jamie Jones, aka Fossil Hunting Collective). For this release, we also see the founder of quiet details, fields we found, lend his hand on a few pieces appearing on the album. For more on this wonderful new label, I recommend you peruse some past articles appearing on Headphone Commute, including the introduction to the imprint and an exclusive track on our Podcast. But back to an aptly named balance as an interpretation of the label’s aesthetic and the immediately peace-evoking phrase of interpreting what “quiet details” means for each and every one of its artists. Here, Deschamps offers up his “signature creation of vast and enveloping spaces, full of soaring waves of blissful calm and endlessly deep subsonic frequencies – his subtle guitar and synth work at times highly processed and manipulated beyond recognition, at others there to enjoy in their purest state.” If anything, I only wish that many of these pieces extended further into a 15-20 minute territory. Perhaps a consolation to that would be the long-form CD version of the album, which includes a continuous, fully blended journey, allowing you to drift and melt away…