Arnfinn Killingtveit from Trondheim,
Norway, is the name behind the enigmatic (or just plain silly)
Swamps up Nostrils. And I like it!
The first few tracks of the new net release, Thirty Thirteen, on
Fabulat take the same basic approach. A fairly ordinary drum
machine, accompanied by abstract growly synths and gnarly
sound-sources. I say it's an ordinary drum-machine because it is,
but I don't mean it as a criticism, its simple, recognisable (606 or
some such...but probably a plugin.. fruityloops maybe?) and provides
a friendly point of departure for the gooey dollops of noise,
computerish bleeps, voice samples, bassy rumbles and whining
screechy things that Killingtveit spreads all over it with a large
and sticky ladle. The whole thing is quite nicely recorded, which is
partly why I think it's done in a packaged sequencer like
Fruityloops or Reason, but sometimes this has resulted in somewhat
unsubtle choices of sounds. Of course Killingtveit likes his knobs
to go to eleven, who doesn't, but does every bass sound have to be
flanged / phased or PW-modulated? Does every sound have to be in the
front of the mix? Do the rhythms have to be quirky and stuttering
all the time? It's as if he is scared that one single second will be
un-interesting or boring, when the real key to electronic music is
restraint, repetition, suspense, and suss. When you have the
possibility to do anything, you mustn't. This could have been Scorn
or Aphex Twin, and some of it reminds me of a slightly obscure (and
underrated) Australian 80's combo called Severed Heads, but I'm
afraid it isn't… nearly… but not quite.
BUT.. All is not lost.. In the last 4 tracks, Mr Killingveit unlocks
his noise box and takes out the drone hat. And It fits... Perfectly!
On Futurbulence or Asteroid mine (reminds me of the great Speccy
game “Elite”), Swamps up Nostrils (seriously Arnfinn, is that your
project name? OK then… fine, just as long as you're sure!)… Swamps
up Nostrils gets weird and really quite wonderful.
These tracks are noise/soundscape pieces (without the drum-machine)
and thankfully are coming from the camp who have stopped thinking
that noise is a pretty neat idea, and just use it as an instrument.
There is no show off, “how loud can I be?” here, no flat-line
distortion on the whole mix, no short cuts to Merz-world. He is
aware of the sources, the people that came before, has tired of it,
and is taking the next step. The recordings are tasteful, full, and
warm. Oh, sure, sometimes the sounds could still be subtler, the
“tri-wave” stuff on Futurbulence for example could use some mixing,
reverb, or masking generally, otherwise it can sound like a kid
playing with wibbly wobbly noises on a borrowed synth. But Asteroid
Mine is a beaut… a Sci Fi travel-logue through the Solar System. The
kitchy English organ sound, the radio snippets, the electronic dials
and switches flashing and bleeping, this is the 50's sound of space,
the sound of clean air-tight kitchenettes and labour saving devices
in the new freedom of the Space Stations and Bases on Mars. And on
Non Linear observation of cassini's descent, this is, quite simply,
the pre-millennium sound of hope.
Currently in Norway (where Swamps up Nostrils originate and I also
live) it is possible to win a trip on the Space Shuttle (by
purchasing chocolate, answering some questions, composing a silly
rhyme no-doubt) If I win, I'll want Arfinn on board the shuttle, for
the in-flight music and sound effects.
If space wasn't silent, it should sound like this.