Music in three movements for when the world falls apart
This latest excursion from Dag Rosenqvist comes in the form of three tracks for the Dauw label and is a dark affair. Each piece lasts between 10-20 minutes. Certainly one of Rosenqvist’s darker transmissions, it also showcases his masterful control of compositions that unfurl and envelope the listener.
The first thing that links these three pieces is that they all begin and end the same way: silence. Or something close to it, that is. More specifically, they begin from silence, slowly evolve into the dull throb of some heavy bass tones easing the listener into the piece, and then slowly dissolve back to silence as the music fades away. Normally, when talking about silence in music, it is associated with the idea of rest or pause. But while much of these three compositions maintains a level of sound so quiet that it skirts the edges of silence, sound is almost always present and in flux. Rosenqvist seems to play with ideas of silence and quiet and environmental noise across this whole collection.
To seek a non-musical scenario of silence: the old standby example is the sound of the furnace, which becomes part of the everyday life of living in one’s home. Thus, the periodic electrical hum becomes environmental noise, so much so that a person may claim their home is fairly silent when to others it is not. And pointing to electrical hums is appropriate here as much of the album sounds like the sound of augmented electricity and little more. There is a very little about the source sounds that is easily identifiable or that seems sourced from some place organic – every sound feels augmented or processed. What is organic about these pieces is Rosenqvist’s masterful control of the evolution of each composition. So, while the palette Rosenqvist works with may not be obvious to the listener, it is one he as an artist is confident in using. And as prolific as he’s been over the last decade, that familiarity is not surprising, but his boldness is; these three pieces are some of the most stripped down he’s ever released. Each piece is very spare, there are few layers to the compositions, instead it’s like looking at watercolour painting where the edges blur and blend to define each other so well that it is hard to tease out where one sound begins and another ends. Final piece “I am Lost Without You” finally sees Rosenqvist taking his foot off the brake to let the sound overflow into a messy collage of distorted sounds, as if to reveal the heart of the beast, violently pumping away.
And after all the music is done? Silence again. But not really. Where most musicians rely on catchy melodies to embed themselves in your brain and be instantly catalogued with artist name and song attached, Rosenqvist seems content to create sonic worms that burrow themselves into your brain. So, while you’re living it, the music seems all consuming; but when it ends, it seems to disappear completely, leaving behind only an evoked feeling. But one gets the impression that Rosenqvist is so on top of that that he knows that too.
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