There is a familiarity that builds when musicians collaborate. Experimental alchemists, Dag Rosenqvist and Matthew Collings have met in the past to produce the wonderful Wonderland EP, released in 2012 as part of Hibernate's collaboration series. Their new record together, Hello Darkness, produces a more distinct and complete end result of what their combined musical vision is.
At first glimpse Hello Darkness is a dim work, an album where bleakness freely roams. Myriad of elements point to that direction, as the noise creeps in slowly, separating you from reality. Unyielding walls of sound are conjured, increasing in intensity and creating an asphyxiating atmosphere as a result. But that is what is happening at the floor level.
In essence this is an album of contradiction, and there are various clues along the way that reveal the true nature of Hello Darkness. The title itself points to that duality, an obvious reference of Simon & Garfunkel's “The Sound of Silence,” where the artists greet this opposing force, embracing instead of ostracizing it. The artwork speaks to this split theme, with a salmon color background acting as the first impression, alongside the smiley face with a single tear dripping down. There is a lot of this tongue-in-cheek attitude that has actually moved into the process of recording as well.
The duo has operated in a strange way to produce this record, applying an erratic work form. Tracks were completed only to be tampered again, additional elements were added to the master tracks, as well as extreme processing was applied to the masters of the record, in the form of strange cuts and cross fades, some of which are fairly obvious in tracks such as “Renaissance.” In working this way, the record becomes unpredictable, and the duo is suddenly freed from the shackles of production steps, with their experimental spirit not confined anymore, able to explore further areas of production.
All this might give the idea that Hello Darkness is a completely unbalanced album, but that is not necessarily the case. Sure, there are abrupt changes and weird effects placed all over, but the two artists create a work that is compelling in more than one levels. The darkness of ambient and abstract electronic music is there, the sound design is rich and fills the album with textures, the dark tone does not slumber beneath the surface, but rather staring you directly, and then jazzy melodies appear through the noise mist of “You Don't Have to Tell Me About Hell”, revealing a complete different side to Hello Darkness. Rosenberg and Collings might be sonic explores, but in the case of Hello Darkness they have evolved into sonic tricksters.
7.5 / 10
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