Review of Sart [12k1042]

Dusted (US)

Norwegian musicians Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Sagevik have a keen ear for the sonically sublime. The duo’s name, Pjusk, means something along the lines of “a small, insignificant person,” but is also related etymologically to the English word “pixie.” And, appropriately, there is something slyly magical about Gjelsvik and Sagevik’s music. Blending atmospheric electronics and grainily organic elements with an alchemist’s skill, Pjusk conjures gloriously immersive imagery not unlike the cinematic ambient work of fellow countryman Biosphere. Yet their eclectic palette, with its fine gradients of color and light and their elegant melodic structures, is distinctly their own.

Sart is Pjusk’s first full-length CD. Their only prior release was a tantalizing pair of tracks that were the highlight of last year’s Blueprints compilation on the New York minimalist label 12k. In many respects, with their deft mix of lyricism and abstraction, Pjusk fits neatly into the 12k songbook, which includes the warm ambience of the much-admired Shuttle 358 as well the stark minimalism of Finland’s Antti Rannisto. What sets Pjusk apart is their ability to bridge these apparently disparate aesthetics with such ease and finesse, creating music that is at once austere and enveloping.

Sart is a remarkably accomplished and complex record. Using an unprepossessing collection of found sounds, field recordings, electronics, and acoustic instruments, Gjelsvik and Sagevik craft a quietly transcendent assortment of tracks that are remarkable for their seamless stylistic breadth and spot-on execution. The record begins with a multi-part piece called “Tander” that shyly ushers you into Pjusk’s evocative soundworld. Soon you’re wading through the crackling atmospherics of “Dur” and bobbing along the gentle dub drift of “Flyktig,” a gorgeous track which recalls the glorious early 12″s of Cologne’s Senking and the ambient experiments of Gas. It’s a remarkable, often shudderingly beautiful journey, full of distressed vinyl and warm tape hiss, delicate rhythmic pulsing and bracingly icy textures. By the time you reach the album’s closing track, a charming, burblingly rhythmic vignette called “Statig” (reminiscent of a more organic, Amber-era Autechre), you find yourself quite thoroughly enthralled. – By Susanna Bolle

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