Review of Sart [12k1042]

Earlabs (.ORG)

After attention-getting appearance on 12k’s Blueprints compilation in 2006, the Norwegian pair Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Sagevik, composing under the alias of Pjusk since 2005, make their first long-player album available on the 12k label. Comprised of thirteen tracks, Sart takes 12k into darker and, at times, more atmospheric territory while at the same time continuing the label’s signature sounds.

There are numerous electronic music artists exploring the territory of dark electronics and gloomy atmospheres but not on the 12k label and not quite with verve, diversity, and poignancy of Pjusk. Constructed with electronics, real instruments, vinyl samples, rhythms, found sounds, and location recordings Sart fashions its own unique alcove in the genre of melancholic electronics and doom-tinged atmospheres.

The variety of sounds on Sart is one of its strongest features. In a genre which can easily become static and repetitious, the album manages to hold the listener’s attention with its various approaches. Sart begins with the bleak sounds and misty ambiance of “Tander” only to slide gracefully into the blissful atmospherics of “Kontour” and sparse minimalism and vinyl haze of “Dur”. About mid-way through the album, “Rim” provides a surprising twist whereby the electronics takes second seat to some beautiful blues-style acoustic guitar and harmonics and, later, “Anelse” effectively blends dark rhythmic flavors with bluesy, reverbed electric guitar licks. “Anelse” is followed directly with the cavernous, murky dub-inspired richness and diffused beats of “Rom” which could easily serve as the theme for some shadowy gathering in the deep forest. “Dempt” is a discordant piece with arrhythmic percussion and heavily layered with incongruous electronics and samples which make for a surreal ambiance. In contrast, the final track “Stadig” brings Sart to a more harmonious conclusion with cheerless synthesized melodies, minimal beats, and a delicate sprinkling of electronics.

Sart is clearly a different path for the 12k label and, for me at least, one that I hope is walked again, not only by Pjusk, but by other unknown artists who might be experimenting on the periphery of dark, tonal electronic music.

View Release