Review of Sart [12k1042]

White Line (UK)

Yet more proof, if proof were needed, that 12k have demonstrated a commitment to breaking new artists into the impoverished world of fine quality electronica. Where other labels of equal stature merely rest on their laurels with tried and tested rosters of artists, 12k are busily setting the benchmark with a series of stunning debuts over the last year or so.

Norwegian duo, Pjusk have their first outing on this highly collectable label, following on from a brief, but encouraging airing on 12k’s Blueprints sampler last year. Sart elegantly straddles the twin disciplines of minimalist electronica and atmospheric ambience in a 13 track collection that is both expansive, yet deeply introverted. With more than a nod and a doff of the cap to fellow countryman, Biosphere, peppered with subtle infusions of perhaps early Aphex Twin (circa Selected Ambient Works), Sart opens with the quirky, ephemeral “Tander”. Subsequent tracks, “Kontur” , “Dur” , “Flyktig” are delicately handled tonal works, dripping with reverb and a flicker of darkness, yet retaining glimmers of brilliance. The epic, “Vag” lapses into textbook Biosphere territory, with a much more restrained pallette of tones, carried on a rythmic sub-layer, perpetually inhabited by haunting, disembodied voices, and an eerie electronic skrim, this truly is cinema for the ear. “Rav” and “Hul” explore a much more obtuse, abstracted tonality, hovering in and out of focus, and splintered with intriguing bleeps and subterranean fragments. “Anelse”, “Rom” ,”Dempet” and closing piece, “Stadig” could almost be construed as a single piece, being sketchy, minimalist tone works, dusted with dubby overtones and scratchy sampling.

12k’s press release describe Pjusk’s sound as “warm, delicate, and wet” which make it sound more like a cup of Latte, than a piece of finely wrought electronica, yet the duo of Gjelsvik and Sagevik have created here, a work of subtle, ethereal drama that successfully splices dark tonality with innately human, organic elements such as voice, guitar, and found sounds, that give the whole collection a loose, abstract narrative, that defies easy categorisation. Sart is a collection that is uniquely Scandinavian in mood, no doubt the product of dark icy winter nights lit by the hazy glow of the moon, or the serenely spectacular luminosity of the Aurora Borealis. If you haven’t already reached for your credit card, then the loss is entirely yours…my album of the year so far. BGN

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