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deaf center - Owl Splinters
In 2005 Deaf Center left an indelible impression on the cinematic / modern-classical / dark ambient scenes with the release of their classic first LP - 'Pale Ravine'. Since then Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland have quietly honed their art via the nightmarish catharsis of the Svarte Greiner and Nest projects respectively, arriving at their 2nd album together in deeply solemn and contemplative mood. For the next chapter of their story the mysterious imagery is rendered even sharper, as though someone on the inside wiped a palm on the window of their haunted cabin in the woods, peering into the murk to find their melodic silhouettes and tonal shadows transformed from charcoal sketches into lucid dreams with an earthy clarity. This is largely attributable to the fact it was recorded at Nils Frahms' Durton studio, where the lo-fi graininess and techniques of their early work was brought to life with hi-end engineering and analogue equipment, allowing the duo to articulate their supernatural stories with more evocative detailing and widescreen atmospherics. Opening to the scraped strings and seismic bass shudder of 'Divided', you're ushered striaght through to a world of sound that's tangibly more powerful, and equally more sensitive, than anything the pair have produced to date, before Totland's piano anoints the air of centrepiece 'The Day I Would Never Have' with ethereal pensiveness and Skodvin's cello expands like a dense, blackened cloud of smoke. Through the smaller vingettes like 'Fiction Dawn', this forested gloom colours the album through to the slow, vacuous pressure system of 'Close Forever Watching', its surge of cold black air almost brutally resolving the atmospheric tension. We know how many of you value and cherish their first LP and we can sincerely say that 'Owl Splinters' is like returning to a dream you once had, only this time you're awake and the dream is hauntingly vivid. Essential.