Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ättestupa - s/t LP

When I think of Swedish music, I usually think first of its disproportionate influence on the punk and metal scenes in the last 25 years (Anti-Cimex, Mob 47, Nihilist/Entombed, At the Gates, etc., nearly ad infinitum); but recently I've been listening to a lot more out-music than anything directly influenced by the above bands. Among my favorites at the moment are Sweden's Skull Defekts, who are passable as a rock band but really extraordinary as a noise/drone unit. I have the Release the Bats label to thank for multiple Defekts releases, and now they're responsible for the debut record from Ättestupa, who lay out two side-long trance-inducing jams on this LP. The comparison that comes immediately to mind is the Religious Knives "Bind Them/Electricity and Air" 12", the first RK release I ever acquired (and still my favorite). The Ättestupa record is more dense and varied, but similarly repetitive and lumbering. Both sides (there is no way to discern which is A and which is B) have a fuzzy, hazy drone as their foundation with a repeating keyboard line riding along over top. And in similar fashion, both tracks eventually give way to vocals and primitive drumming. The vocals are really the only connection to what could be considered folk music to my ears, but I wonder whether some of the keyboard lines (which really open up at the end of one of the tracks and seem to by supplemented or replaced by string instruments) recall regional folk melodies. The cover photo and three photos presented on large inserts depict rural peasants posing during their work days in what I would guess to be the latter part of the 19th century. Is there a connection between the music and the images? Are these field songs warped and corroded by a century of wind and ice and sediment? Could be. Personally, I hear captive zombies being marched to a mass execution. Regardless, this is a recommended release, and I believe that those on the lookout for the next Ättestupa release should keep an eye on another Swedish imprint, Klorofyll Tapes.

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