Boomkat Product Review:
We all know about Erik Skodvin's activities outside of Deaf Center - he's carved out quite a solo career for himself as Svarte Greiner - but what of the Norwegian duo's other member, Otto Totland? For the past couple of years he's worked as part of the duo, Nest, with Huw Roberts, releasing their eponymous debut EP in 2007 on Roberts' own Serein label. Now the two artists at last follow up that release with this wonderful full-length, which lifts its first six tracks from the EP (with one newly reworked) and adds a further five new compositions. Retold is something of a masterpiece within its field. Even on early inspections this record excels on every level as a piece of cinematic, ambient contemporary classical composition. From the writing, performances and sparing arrangements right down to the deeply atmospheric production this is an album that followers of cinematic score-work/modern-classical music will absolutely relish, combining memorable deployments of both melody and texture with a kind of scrupulous minimalism that never overplays its hand. 'Lodge' serves as an apt introduction to the album, setting out with muffled, bell-like piano phrases, pining horns and the gentlest current of strings, but by the time we arrive at 'Marefjellet' the duo have really hit their stride, conjuring suspenseful, filmic passages populated by rhythmic keying figures, deep, bass-heavy harps and vintage-style electronic processing. At times it's as if you're listening to a cross between Biosphere's Insomnia soundtrack and his album, Shenzhou, and in terms of ambient music, that must surely be regarded as a compliment of the highest order. Elsewhere, more abstract pieces arrive with the likes of 'Trans Siberian', where the influence of sound collage takes hold: early outbreaks of wintry drone merge with passing locomotive sounds, before an evocative mixture of coarse, filtered strings, fractured piano and field recordings start to flow. The previously unreleased material on the disc proves to be more than up to the task of following up the earlier EP tracks: 'Wheatstone' is full of immaculately produced, aloof romanticism, while 'The Helwick' takes on a blizzard-like feel with its musty, Deathprod-like approach to engineering. Possibly the most extroverted of all the recordings here is 'Far From Land', a composition that's just achingly beautiful as it builds up to a choral midway point that's guaranteed to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. Retold is sure to enthrall followers of Deaf Center's ambient audio-sculpting, but it's also bound to resonate strongly with anyone who follows the work of artists like Peter Broderick, Johann Johannsson and Max Richter too. Very hghly recommended.