Backtearer Swear

[YYAA; 2015]

Styles: ambient, industrial, dance, HD, organic, mineral
Others: Why Be, HVAD, Lisbent, Goodiepal, TCF, Trevor Lee Larson, Linda Spjut, Zachary Waltman

Although Denmark isn’t a place generally associated with volcanoes, geologists this year concluded that volcanism in Denmark initiated earthquakes 201 million years ago, which left a mark in rock formations in Europe that had previously been pinned on a massive meteorite strike. Perhaps there is a fiery, restless, temperamental nature inherent to Danish soil after all. Indeed, it does appear as the natural environment of less planetary ruptures on the crust of masses, faithfully allowing hot musical matter to flow from a chamber of molten material below the surface. When it solidifies, too, it occurs in many varieties and differs greatly in structure and constitution.

Backtearer is symbolic of this — even his name signifies a rupturing of sorts — emanating from an intense Danish scene that is topographically concentrated but broad in content, encompassing such artists as Syg Nok Records affiliates HVAD, Lisbent, Goodiepal, and Why Be — the latter being a close collaborator, who also features on “Freedom Amph.” Operating always slightly under the surface, they seem perpetually underground, functioning as axles of a vivid and noisy revolution. And while the markings of these artists outstrip form, they are compound in their upset and inspiration.

Swear’s mood is derived from journeys across various cultures, traditions, and environments. 70s and 80s industrial and ambient music are a primary inspiration, but Backtearer seems particularly interested in the clash of this often physical and primitively recorded music with the more HD sound of the internet age. Combining found sounds, obscure audio recordings, and a digital air, Swear is an evocative listen that can also be read in line with what M.E.S.H. recently described as a reaction to a “banal dialectic between organic and raw sounds and hi-tech and futuristic sounds.” In a similar way, Backtearer’s music deals with high technology in a way that feels nonetheless hands-on, earthly, and organic.

As snippets of distant cultures rise through sonic fissures, Swear becomes a ridge, ripped apart. Backtearer, however, doesn’t hide behind collagist tectonics; there’s strength in the construction of material — sheer rhythm, melody, harmony, and color. Against a grit, the beats are often pristine and solid; following their contours alone offers a journey touching various derivatives of house, dancehall, trap, footwork, and batida. Aside from dance mechanics, though, there’s a softness to Swear brought about through lush strings and delicate textures, as well as the yielding substance of the whole, which is supple and often gives in to the pressure of its parts.

The release of Swear comes via YYAA, the Berlin-based label responsible for releases by TCF, Trevor Lee Larson, and Linda Spjut. As an annex of Backtearer’s locale, as well as others of similar intensity, YYAA finds a way to prematurely access the molten material beneath the crust.

Links: Backtearer - YYAA

Most Read