Review of Sval [12k1059]

All Music (.COM)

Following up on the debut album Sart (2007, also released by 12k), Sval is a gorgeous, entrancing work of ambient electronica. In the course of 12 tracks that (mostly) segue and (all) flow as a continuous piece, Sval takes us through a lot of pastures and styles, while retaining a commanding level of cohesion and consistence, thanks to a sound palette that never leaves the blue spectrum. Feelings of winter, wind, wide spaces, and cold prevail — like watching light play off snow-covered landscapes. The album starts in a vintage German electronic music style, but moves occasionally toward more beat-driven chill-out ambient electronica here, experimental ambient and dub there, and Icelandic territory on one particular track (“Dis,” with its guest vocalist Elisabeth Lahr, strongly evokes the soundworld of Jóhann Jóhannsson). Rune Sagevik and Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik manage to blend the listener-friendly straightforwardness of ambient electronica with the genre-pushing edginess of a more experimental artistic approach. Parts of Sval may sound a little “easy” for a release on 12k, but behind the occasional beat or melody lies rich experimental drone textures. In fact, the album could be described as a cross between Klaus Schulze and Lawrence English (especially his For Varying Degrees of Winter). It’s a perfect piece of work, the kind that can become a gate to welcome new listeners into the field of experimental ambient music.

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