Tabs Out | New Batch – Do You Dream of Noise?

New Batch – Do You Dream of Noise?
5.29.18 by Ryn Masteller

April in Sweden is still probably colder than it ought to be – just look at all that snow in the promo shot! Brrr. Human beings expect warmth in springtime, the sun blazing in a piercing blue sky, those piles of snow melting and receding, floral growth, rivulets and streams running and gently overflowing their banks, grasses inundated with mud and muck, mosquitoes and gnats hatching and nibbling on skin deficient in vitamin D, incessant rains as the temperatures change, ducks humping, fish humping, rabbits humping, bears humping, snakes humping… Oh god, spring is disgusting! Why can’t winter last just a little bit longer? Why?!

Luckily we have Do You Dream of Noise?, the Swedish experimental tape label, ready to dowse our perceptions of spring with a partially frozen bucket of psychic slush, thereby relegating all of us, everywhere in the world, to a constant state of huddling indoors with no intention of stepping outside. But while these four cassettes (well, three of them anyway; see entry number four for the outlier) may not want to get out from under the covers, they at least acknowledge the world around them. They’re just busy contemplating the internal, the infinite, the life of the mind. Plus, they probably think springtime is gross too – they’ll poke their heads out when summer rolls around (which, in Sweden, feels somewhat like a Florida November, I imagine).


Taking a break from his “day job” as “one of Sweden’s leading innovators of the DJ and turntable culture,” Slim Vic drops an icy slab of ambient loveliness fit to be piped from the highest point of the largest glacier while accompanied by the aurora borealis. The title translates as “North of Dalälven (The Fate of Romance),” and here’s a little bit of background and a map. The river Dalälven is a bit south of the Arctic Circle, but that doesn’t make it any less cold at any time of the year. Heavy on meaning and intention, “Norr Om Dalälven” weighs upon the mind and invites vast introspection – what does “the fate of romance” even mean? If the mood is any indication, its fate is ponderous and tragic, cracking with violent seismic activity like an ice floe at the wrong temperature. And it is centered directly north of the river Dalälven, the scientifically agreed-upon birthplace of the concept of romance itself. OK, I’m just kidding about that part, but wouldn’t it be weird if that were true? Anyway enjoy this dark synth ride.


Now we’re talking. Did you mention something about wanting sheer bliss destroyed by utter planetary violence? No? Who was I just having that conversation with, then? Anyhoo, Sweden’s Blodet trick you into thinking they’re all twinkling starlight sparkling off ice crystals before taking a dramatic turn toward sledgehammering a rocky outcropping with their guitars and their drums. Unabashedly post rock, Blodet builds a foundation of beauty on side A’s “Solstorm” (solar storm) before wrecking it with loudness and distortion. Any crotchety old dude sitting on his porch will be calling the cops halfway through, you can count on that. Side A continues with “Kristallpalatset” (crystal palace), which begins much more groovily before dropping off to let the track breathe, but of course after a bit of unaccompanied chimey guitar in the middle, the band divebombs back in, Explosions in the Sky comparisons flying from the typewriters of music critics everywhere. This is not a bad thing – EOTS is a wonderful band. (And I actually use a typewriter. Mike Haley does all the website word processing for me.) Side B is a bonus track called “Ocean,” which is not a Velvet Underground or Pearl Jam cover.


Here it is, the full sound of northern life on the coast, the title itself a clue, no, an answer to exactly what Marstrand sounds like. I imagine myself somewhere along the Gulf of Bothnia, always been there, always will be there, the waves a constant companion, the wind a benevolent overseer. I have never been to Sweden, yet “Memories of a Place I’ve Never Been” suggests images more real and more earnest than those in front of me at any given time. Induced nostalgia, sure, but a welcome vacation/diversion from everyday life. The entire tape – and it’s a long one – crests over you and fills your mouth, your lungs, your brain, your heart with such a distinct sense of place. Or maybe it’s just me, feeling side effects from this litany of medication I’m on for the scientific study at the Local University, which, I have to admit, is Florida State. So – these Florida “scientists” probably aren’t real, accredited ones. In fact, I think they’re just feeding me tequila shots now.


Anna Sulikowski is SO not from Sweden, which is something to note among this batch! Instead, she’s from Hamilton, Ontario, birthplace of such noteworthy famous folks as Eugene Levy (“American Pie”), Martin Short (“Arrested Development”), and Dave Thomas (“Arrested Development”). But Sulikowski, under her moniker Building Castles out of Matchsticks, is not so much funny ha-ha as not really funny at all. No, she crafts contemplative soundscapes “using guitar, loops, synths, and pedals, allowing us a glimpse inside her mind as she “shares her daydreams” with us via cassette tape. At times quite active (see opener “even the Romans fell,” with its IDM rhythms, and the trip hop glitchery of “her speech was unremarkable”) and at others wistfully blissed (“a moment of clarity,” “to dream outside the lines”), “To Dream Outside the Lines” is as close as it gets to approximating lying on your back in the middle of a field and watching puffy white clouds drift across the blue sky. The breeze is your best friend, and the world is open to you. Who said anything about spring being terrible? I don’t think it was me.

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