07/06/2011

Review: Svartsinn – Of Darkness And Re-Creation (reissue)

Cyclic Law/Ewers Tonkunst/Indiestate Distribution, 2010 (originally Cyclic Law, 2003)


Tracklisting:

1) As A Black Stone Monument
2) Entrance To Emptiness
3) Mind Dust
4) Towards The Dark And Cold
5) The Oblivious Faces
6) Of Darkness And Re-Creation
7) Wasteland Corridors
8) Tremors Within The Void

There’s nothing like a high-quality reissue of a somewhat forgotten album. With so many underground artists popping up all the time, we often forget what got us there in the first place. And if the artist himself takes part in the reissue of his own album, redesigning the layout, getting new artwork done and remastering the album (which is often desirable in the case of older releases), you know that it has to be good. Such is the latest Svartsinn reissue.

“Of Darkness And Re-Creation” was Svartsinn’s debut on what was to become a dark ambient powerhouse over the years, namely Cyclic Law. Strangely enough, it doesn’t pertain very much to either Svartsinn’s actual debut album, “Devouring Consciousness” (Eibon Records, 2002), nor any of its following ones on Cyclic Law. As the new artwork reflects, this album is by far the most minimalistic of all Svartsinn’s works thus far, with only an occasional hint of melody, which become scarcer as the album progresses. That being said, one would expect the melody to be replaced with rumbling drones and a dense network of sounds. Yet this isn’t quite the case either. Jan Roger Pettersen, the mastermind behind Svartsinn, ditches substance in favour of atmosphere, creating a calm, relaxing journey, with a lower number of sounds that stretch further and for longer, giving the album a feeling of subtleness in the process.

That isn’t to say that the music doesn’t deserve the attribute dark, however; on the contrary, certain tracks are more akin to something you’d hear on a Lustmord album than a Kammarheit one, for instance, or even later Svartsinn releases; it’s the same coldness of barren lands and stone structures that you’re exploring, but in Svartsinn’s case, it feels as if you’re doing it from a capsule of sorts. Unlike Lustmord, which leaves you vulnerable and ever-fearing in your exploration, on this album, you feel safe and free to experience everything to the fullest. There are no sudden surges or repeating patterns that would come to the forefront. Everything is either dead or gone, leaving you to your own senses and thoughts.

The main danger in creating this type of dark ambient lies in the material itself. With a conscious decision to be minimalistic, with only a few sounds/drones per track, and to make even those few thinner and subtler without any melody to back them up, the artists risks with ending up with insufficiently strong material and an empty album. However, Mr Pettersen avoids falling into this trap with unbelievable ease, as the images conjured by these tracks are just as strong and defined as on any other release. A stunning sophomore album by all means and a must for anyone into this sort of music.

9/10