Boomkat Product Review:
The majestic, Lynchian mystery of Treetop Drive , Helge Sten aka Deathprod’s debut solo album, makes it one of the most astonishing ambient/drone anomalies of its era, and pretty much of all time where our ears are concerned. Initially issued on a tape containing all three parts of Treetop Drive, and subsequently completed with addition of the immense Towboat on a later CD edition (also found in the Deathprod box), this first ever vinyl edition brings a longtime dream for many of his followers to fruition.
The Deathprod concept arose in 1991 as a prism thru which Helge Sten could relay findings from the liminal electro-acoustic area generated by his complex array of homemade electronics, digital samplers, and analogue effects - an organismic network of circuits usually credited on his releases (and many more by Susanna, Motorpsycho, Jenny Hval, Arve Henriksen) as in the role of ‘Audio Virus’. Since the Audio Virus’ early outings on records by Norwegian hard rock unit Motorpsycho, Helge Sten’s music has gradually become a byword for a type of dark ambient music that transcends the genre’s usual cliches to divine a sound or space comparable with myriad others, yet completely unto itself.
Treetop Drive is the first release fully realised by the Audio Virus, incorporating the ‘esoteric tape-echo’ sound of Hans Magnus Ryan’s violin in a suite of glacial movements that call to mind the minimalism of Thomas Köner or Mika Vainio, but with the flickering neon mystery of the finest Lynch/Badalamenti collabs - a combination quite unlike anything else of the modern age, or as the label put it, “existing in a void between the arts, contemporary music and alternative culture.”
We’ve spent many, many nights listening to the death throes of Ryan’s violin screeching from Treetop Drive 1’s ungodly echo chamber, and likewise flinching at the plangent, coruscating peal of Treetop Drive 2’s mountaintop clarion, to then go into freefall with the jaw-dropping Treetop Drive 3, embedded with its deeply uncanny and (still) unidentified vocal sample. The 18 minute final track, Towboat, is, quite frankly, one of our favourite dark ambient pieces of all time, and pretty much sounds like a template for any of the genre’s highlights ever since.
If you don’t know Deathprod, we plainly implore you to spend some time with this record and touch the void for some of the most life-affirming, querying music that you’ll likely ever hear.