Svarte Greiner Knive

[Type; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: ambient, cinematic post-everything
Others: Blithe Sons, Machinefabrik, Oren Ambarchi, Striborg

It’s no secret that the outsider styles of acid folk and black metal have yielded many fetish items for record nerd insiders over the last couple of years. Groups like Six Organs Of Admittance and Sunn 0))) have taught Joe iTunes Customer to appreciate the finer nuances of these esoteric realms, producing a spike in interest in some truly flipped-out shit — Jewelled Antler CD-Rs and out-of-print Burzum LPs are now prized commodities for folks who are generally “into music,” not just genre geeks. With that said, both forms of music will still kill a party and derail a study session. Most of the world would rather listen to Radiohead, Beyonce, or the sound the keys make when the dude in the neighboring cubicle updates his Facebook profile than subject themselves to improvised zither excursions or fuzz organ-led edicts to bathe in the blood of martyred Christians.

Until now. Svarte Greiner might be just the project to turn every last one of us onto home-recorded acoustic drone and demonic buzzed-out clatter. In Knive, Norwegian sound artist Erik K. Skodvin culls from the most deranged forms of forest freakery and bedroom drudgery and brings the tender, fragile signs of life he finds into stunning relief with pregnant silences and subtle ambient washes. Skodvin’s dealt in dignified, cinematic minimalism in the past with his Max Richter-esque project Deaf Center, but he hasn’t tampered with the dark side until this release.

As ambitious a project as turning both avant-garde metal and folk into audio narrative within a single album is, we can forgive Skodvin’s work for feeling a bit scatterbrained. It’s difficult to imagine the jazzy upright bass ostinato in “Ocean out of Wood,” the vampirish organ motif in “The Black Dress,” and the ritualistic percussion in “The Dining Table” coexisting in the same space — they each transmit an equally unheimlich vibe, but their fundamental sonic differences never quite make peace with one another. So Knive is less a mood than a collection of moods. It forces disparate elements together, but not all at once — sounds are given room to breathe, to define themselves in relation to one another.

This is why Knive is a devious record. You might skip “The Boat Was My Friend” your first time through, because it’s too ominous, overburdened with brownish bass rumble and minced six-strings, but you might return to it when you realize that the snatches of vocals buried within that song are much like the piercing wood spirit cries in predominantly acoustic pieces like “The Dining Table.” And then you might realize that an Earth album wouldn’t be all that out of place next to your Master Musicians of Joujouka records. And it’s all downhill from there.

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