Boomkat Product Review:
Erstwhile Deaf Center member Erik K. Skodvin aka Svarte Greiner returns with a brilliant, solemn new work a year on from the Moss Garden album for his own Miasmah imprint.
Apart is essentially a suite of pieces for prepared Cello and location recordings, recorded in an abandoned industrial space in Bern, Switzerland, complete with all the aural artefacts you would imagine. As Skodvin explains:
"In autumn 2015 I was invited to perform and stay for a week at the – as it turned out one off - Rebirth Festival in Bern, Switzerland. I was staying at an abandoned farm in the hills, half an hour outside the city with the group of young people responsible for the festival. My room was equipped with a mattress on the floor, some strange paintings, and a lot of spider webs. The view outside was straight into an open field with mostly hills, a forest, and some tents, all of which would be covered in fog every morning. By night I was driven to the venue - an unused industrial building slightly outside of central Bern. Three of the nights there I was given a cello, a sleeping bag, full access to the building, and especially its big open basement space for recording. Something that ended up as both a fruitful and an uneasy experience. The walls were spray painted and the space was scattered with bizarre, elaborate tree / steel sculptures. Most of the rooms were made into some kind of surreal art object, often recalling a sort of Mad Max post-apocalyptic feel.
I realised that getting a clean recording here would be nearly impossible, as the building had a tendency for strange noises, clicks and sounds, seemingly turning itself on and off at random. It was also located right next to the train tracks, which meant I had about 10 minutes of quiet in which to record in between the thunder of passing trains - a lot of recordings were ruined. However, all these off elements somehow had their charm. Having such a big empty space for myself, filled with strange installations and sculptures set up for the festival, was both inspiring and eerie. When not playing and just sitting still, it was unnerving. The lights were on motion detectors and would automatically turn off after 5 minutes without movement, leaving me alone with nothing but a small lamp and my thoughts. Sometimes I wished my imagination would be less vivid, as I´d have an easier time not imagining all kinds of obscure happenings in the shadows. Then again, this is also something that intrigued me so much that I felt no choice but to investigate closer. Spurred by this intrigue/paranoia, I would often walk around the empty building to soak up the atmosphere and check if someone was there.“
That intense sense of isolation seeps through every pore of these wonderfully evocative recordings, situating them somewhere between avant garde composition and minimalist horror, something that’s long been a speciality of the Miasmah label and, indeed, Skodvin’s work - here taken to its most austere, stripped down and rewarding extreme.