Since 2016 Danish duo Jakob Skøtt and Kristoffer Ovesen have released a series of cold and dystopian electronica albums which hark back to cheap VHS horror movies of the 1970s and 80s. All three of them – ‘Mondo Ferox’, ‘Natten Haevn’, and ‘Atavistic Future’ – have in one way or another seemed both fragmented and inward looking (both admirable qualities for me by the way). However, the release of this, their fourth outing, sees a the duo adding the ‘expansion pack’ of Skøtt’s guitar and drums to Ovesen’s modular synths.
‘After The Fall’ is a recently released VR horror game, and perhaps it is no coincidence that this album shares a title with it… because the addition of this ‘expansion pack’ really does add dimensions to the duo’s sound. I think it is fair to say that this remains an electronic album in essence… but there is a new lightness and fluidity to the tracks here… it is a different listening experience to the previous three.
The album opens with ‘Void Facer’ and ‘Scorpio’… two tracks that definitely share a DNA… almost like two movements of the same piece… they share something fundamental in terms of the way the synths drive you through the music, although the latter is arguably a little more subtle and layered… building on the foundations of the former, with ‘Scorpio’ becoming more fragmented and intense towards the end.
After that ‘Frygtens Time’ really kicks off on the front foot. I really like the clean way in which the synths and drums integrate, with both adding to the overall excitement of the track. There is little or no trace of the darkness of the previous Videodrones albums… indeed as this goes into ‘Irgendwo-Irgendwann’ there is a positive springlike feel… an optimism and a warmth that feels so positive, although by the end of it you do get a sense that the cloud might not be far away from this silver lining.
‘Inferno Verde’ is almost an interlude, coming in at under two minutes, but has a rather hard edge to it which, frankly, I could listen to for a lot longer. However, this is mitigated by the title track which has such a beautiful feel to it. Like much of this album it has such a cinematic quality… reflecting not only a move from 2D to 3D, but a much more widescreen experience… from scratchy tape to millions of pixels… it also feels emotional in a different way with the visceral fear of the previous releases being replaced by an altogether more complex series of reactions which are drawn to a dramatic climax towards the end of this amazing centrepiece which, on its own, is worth the ‘rental fee’… one of my favourite tracks of the year so far!
You can imagine ‘Wasteland Interceptors’ on a film soundtrack… and, in the same way that it follows ‘After The Fall’ here… it’s the sort of music that is initially picking up the dramatic pieces and bringing the viewer/ listener back to some sort of equilibrium before going of on its own dramatic way… and by the end you feel to be in a totally different place.
The album then concludes with three relatively short pieces: ‘Ar Amarelo’ is a slower and more considered piece which in some ways harks back to some of the duo’s earlier work; ‘Blaster’ immediately reminded me of The Who’s ‘Baba O’Reilly’ in the way that the synth acts as the power source for the track giving it momentum and verve; while ‘Finale’ brings you though a forest of beats and clicks, back out into the ‘real’ world again…
We tend to fetishise progress… to this that everything is better these days… however, the fact the vinyl has become resurgent over the last decade, not least because of excellent labels like El Paraiso, tells us that not all progress is universally applauded. I say this because I want to make clear that while I absolutely adore this new album from Videodrones, I do not think it eclipses their previous releases. Yes, in many ways, it is a development of their sound… but is just different… a reflection of different (if related) phenomena. As such I will still avidly listen to the previous three outings from the duo… but, and this is a key thing for me, I will put this album on when I am in the mood for something different from them… and that, for me, is a good thing!
‘After The Fall’ is out now on El Paraiso, see here for details.
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