Review of Sart [12k1042]

Musique Machine (.COM)

Sart is the debut of the Norwegian duo of Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Sagevik, otherwise known as Pjusk. Recently Taylor Deupree’s 12k label has pushed away a bit from austere minimalism toward a more organic, natural sound. Since a non-specific form of music meets such criteria, many possiblities are opened up by such a philosophy. Unbound by genre, there’s a lot of freedom for the artists’ imagination to roam.

Sart is therefore a little difficult to pin down. Certainly it’s for the most part electronica, but it includes some interesting additions. Analog tape is credited, as well as guitar, flutes and vocals. Currently there are quite a few artists who inject traditional instruments into their laptop recordings, to varying results. While the concept may not be ground breaking, Pjusk’s arrangements stand out from the pack because they are refined and meticulously crafted.

There’s a slow motion ambiance to Sart, and a modern, clean sound which is not without dramatic effect. It’s not difficult to imagine Sart as a backing track to J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island. The novel’s protagonist, trapped inside a wooded island between highways after an accident, is forced to fend for himself. The contrast of the miniature natural setting transposed against the sea of concrete and paving which represents industrialized society, strikes me as a good comparison to this music. This is because there is at once a natural feel and a futurist sterility to this music. All of that said, Sart will probably have a different impression on each listener, because it inspires the imagination to wander along with it.

On a technical level, it’s exemplary. Underneath the careful, natural flowing ambiance, there are hidden microsounds, which appear only upon close listening. They add depth and mystery to what would already be an interesting disc. The traditional instrumentation is subtle, and doesn’t clash with the electronic element and nothing sounds forced. The use of Elisabeth Lahr’s vocals are particularly haunting as well. With the crushing release rate related to electronica in the past fifteen or so years, it takes distinctiveness and imagination to stand out from the crowd. Sart does so with class.

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