Review of Sart [12k1042]

Soundscaping (.NET)

Unbelievable impact, that’s my first and lasting reaction to this gem of an ambient album, the debut even, for Norwegian electronica duo, Pjusk. Behind this slightly sorrowful moniker we find Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Andre Sagevik, an artist and a promoter with experience from the Norwegian techno and electronic music scene dating back to the early nineties and as such being included in the niche of pioneers nationally. The former of the two will be known to many, partly for his role in the ambient/techno group Neural Network and later as one half of the acclaimed Circular (ed. Where on earth did those copies of their last album A Glass Darkly disappear??) releasing seminal ambient on Origo and national legendary label, Beatservice. Sagevik on the other hand has also been making electronic music for nearly a decade, many will known him from Alpha Collective, but comes from a promotion background and the two did not start to collaborate until Gjelsvik apparently heard one of Sagevik’s tracks on the radio back in 2005. The results thereafter are nothing less than stunning.

Just over a year ago (hence this one in the soundspot), Pjusk had some expectations associated with them following their appearance on 12k’s compilation Blueprints last year, and their debut album Sart does little to twart that newfound fame. The music itself stands on its own, but there is a substantial mark of quality associated with the both musically and aesthetically pleasing releases that come out on Taylor Deupree’s credible label, 12k, and Sart will surely be one of the highlights for the label when looking at 2007 in retrospect. On Sart we are treated to a vast repertoire of found sounds, clicks and cuts, samples of tape machines, voices, machinery like ski lifts, trains and other alien, outworldly sounds. Each track unfolds like an immensely detailed story, as an example the album’s opening track is like getting onboard for an ethereal journey with a mesmerising, lulling rhythm like a locomotive passing through a ghostly landscape. Low, shimmering electronics lead us on in the next song, fusing seamlessly into the third which grows and dissipates like breathing or a wave and aptly titled “Dur” for the “hum” which supports the track. But personally, the highlight comes on the tenth track, “Anelse” (“notion”), with a dubby rhythm that flows subtly and has several introduced elements, all vague and sparse, just notions, and gives off an air of somewhat calm and optimism, simply beautiful anyway, these sounds are hard to capture in words.

The sound is appealingly warm and delicate, but also at times dark and lingering, and alternates between something vaguely familiar but then just as easily shifting the arena to something outworldly and associations could be made to the sounds of Tom Opdahl, Information, or even Gjelsvik’s own, former duo Circular. This album is definitely one to buy and if they perform live, the show should be something very spectacular as these sounds should be listened to in a large room where the loftiness of Pjusk’s sounds can be given the space they need to be explored appropriately. Now, this album came out in April this year so although the review comes late, we’re not hesitant in claiming it as one of the best this year, and Pjusk have become a name to look out for when they release the follow-up they are currently working on.

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