Monday, 3 August 2009

Deaf Center - "Pale Ravine" (2009)

Never before has an album captured my imagination as wildly as this. The ambience, combined with the sweeping piano lines and string melodies help paint wonderful vivid scenes in your head, as if they are the soundtrack to a movie never made, created solely for you to unfurl your own. The clicking, whirring, buzzing and chiming sound effects that crop up every now and then only add more to the scene.

For example, the creepy, dark and unsettling chords in "The Clearing" bring to mind just that, an open space with low visibilty, not knowing what's around you. All of a sudden the buzzing of flies comes in and gradually gets louder; perhaps marking the presence of a dead body nearby. "White Lake" brings to mind the music of Mamiffer, or perhaps Eluvium, due to it's piano-led beautiful yet somehow melancholy soundscape.

Now, this may seem a bit lazy, but i assure you it is simply because my own words do this CD no justice at all; but i thought it best to copy and paste an excerpt from their biography. It sums them up better than i ever could:

"After the critical acclaim of their Neon City EP, Pale Ravine is the long awaited full-length realization of Erik Skodvin and Otto Totlands musical ideals. Taking up where Neon City left off with its epic sound collages and textural soundscapes, Pale Ravine manages to provide a sound altogether more Lynchian and grimly cinematic. Using influences from further back in their lives, the two Norwegian musicians have looked deep into their own family histories to piece together a dusty and nostalgic epic.

Inspired by old silent 8mm film reels, the historical architecture around them and the call of the alluring Norwegian landscape, the duo set out armed with microphones to record whatever they could to capture these feelings. Sounds from battered old records, cash registers, broken machines and a half-dead piano were all blended into the mix to add a warm, homely depth to the recordings. These sounds are most evident in the track Loft, where knocks and wooden creaks give an almost claustrophobic feel to the music. Again on The Clearing a subtle field recording gives the track a rich and involving background and helps build up the mysterious aura before launching a skewed 1930s circus-waltz.

One of the most stand-out influences on Pale Ravine is theatre, or at least the romance of all things theatrical. Not so much theatre in all its pretentious excesses, but the childhood apprehensiveness and the sinister undercurrents. From the muffled ticket booth ambience of Lobby to the solemn dance of White Lake it all appears draped in thick billowing velvet. The dense narrative technique the duo employs is almost like a reverse to a silent film the soundtrack is provided to be accompanied by the imaginative visuals of the listener.

Pale Ravine is an album which again manages to blend elements of classical music with electronic music, yet there is something decidedly different which sets it apart from the competition. While there are elements that can be compared with contemporaries such as Max Richter, Marsen Jules or Ryan Teague Deaf Center is altogether more other-worldly, darker and ultimately very rewarding."

Okay, not exactly an excerpt there, rather the entire bloody thing, but it is so succinctly put and extremely accurate to their sound, apropos of my ramblings.

1. Lobby (3:01)
2. Thread (3:39)
3. White Lake (6:35)
4. Path To Lucy (4:54)
5. Stone Beacon (3:29)
6. Weir (6:34)
7. Loft (4:15)
8. Thunder Night (4:28)
9. Lamp Mien (3:58)
10. The Clearing (4:13)
11. Fog Animal (4:24)
12. Eloy (2:15)

(Linked songs are available to download as MP3s)

Buy CD/LP/MP3s

The album is available at the above link on CD/Vinyl for £7.99, or in MP3 format for a mere £3.99. For just under an hour of incredible music you can't go wrong. Alternatively, iPod touch and iPhone users can download the album directly from iTunes+ onto their ipod, but unfortunately for the same price as the CD/LP above. I recommend the boomkat £3.99 release if you have an ipod. Stereo headphones take this album to an even ridiculously higher level.

Recommended if you like: Mamiffer, Angelo Badalamenti, Brian Eno, Max Richter, Aix Em Klemm, Xela.

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