[album review] erik k. skodvin: flare

April 9, 2011

Album cover for Flare by Erik K. Skodvin

Erik K. Skodvin: Flare (Sonic Pieces, 2010)
£4.20 from [eMusic] (requires membership) – £6.99 from [Boomkat]

Norwegian musician, graphic designer and all-round creative force Erik K. Skodvin (one half of experimentalists Deaf Center) had until last year only released solo material under a pseudonym, Svarte Greiner.

In Flare, his latest work, Skodvin has pulled away from the rich, noise-tinged soundscapes of his previous output. In doing so, he has decided to give his own name to the stripped back, almost pastoral, filmic vignettes the album contains.

Across the ten pieces, Skodvin conjures – with a limited sound palette of piano, guitar and violin – a world of simple beauty suffused with tragedy, suspense.

Brooding second track “Matiné” exemplifies this, building its repeated refrain over five minutes before releasing it into silence. “Pitch Dark” and “Graves” add a plaintive female voice to atonal piano notes and sudden strikes against the acoustic guitar’s body. The effect is unsettling.

The album deftly treads the fine line between instrumental minimalism and a kind of dystopian folk, often recalling (such as on “Neither Dust”) the solo work of Scott Tuma and the experimental rural-rock of Montreal bands like Esmerine and Sackville.

The two closing pieces capture the album’s troubled beauty perhaps best. On “Vanished” a sustained piano note ebbs and flows beneath a tentative, half remembered melody that gradually vanishes before your ears.

“Caught In Flickering Lights” pairs a gently percussive brush of a guitar – like a moth repeatedly hitting a lantern – with a mournful violin and portentous rolling piano notes.

All of the album’s sorrow (and some of your own) is played out here so that when the album finishes, the silence seems quieter than usual. Listen for yourself, below.

close to 94 rating: ★★★★★

This review is part of close to 94‘s [emusic club], which reviews releases from the eMusic catalogue.

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