Initially, Dag Rosenqvist’s Vowels doesn’t make much of a noisy entrance by smashing the doors down. It’s more interested in silently and stealthily creeping up on you from behind. It’s only in the fourth minute that a steady, throbbing bass unmasks its presence. The emptiness that was so prevalent in the early stages has now inflated with the arrival of a surging, tide-like frequency. Eventually, with its snail-like progression, the earth-shuddering vibration picks up a little speed. But the bass doesn’t really slink out of the music. It’s the kind of soundwave that encompasses and shakes every atom of your being. If you hone in on the source, you can feel it vibrating steadily, deep in your gut. It displaces age-worn stones from their faded temples. Fuzzy mountains of static rain down, tearing the black sky down its middle in the same way that passing shooting stars trail silently across this abandoned corner of the Milky Way. Pillars of tears spill out into the silent night.
The second piece unravels slowly, too. Somehow, it feels younger. The music has renewed itself and taken on a new life. The crumpled lines of skin that once crawled with a parasitic static have become a vague, distant memory that the music can’t quite grasp or fully understand. Our own rhythmic temples carry a network of blood-filled tunnels that twist and turn underneath the surface of the body, and the youthful music must age, too. Irregularities start to emerge as it grows older; as it grows, it starts to growl. The static mutates the music like a cancer. The sandpaper-like texture and the rougher dissonance of the static and its continual intrusion is a dominating, prevailing theme in the music.
At the beginning of the third chapter, the music vents its fury. Up until this point the static had made the muddy corners of the music its permanent nest – there’s no denying that – but it seemed to hold itself back from crossing over the misty trenches of the western front. Now, though, the time has come to charge and attack with all its got. It smashes the gate that had tried to hold it, and like a fizzling flood it gushes over the harmony that dares to stand its ground and tries, futilely, to fight back. Ghostly ambient shades flitter across the face like a flurry of night-hungry bats. Sudden dynamic increases warn of substantial threats. The yawning mouth of the static opens up and blows fiercely down a wind-tunnel of nothing but noise. A buried harmony tries to escape, but trying to resist is useless. At the end, the shuddering bass – the stealthy captain who sat in the shadows and oversaw this whole assault – reclaims its victim.