By M of Damned By Light. December 21st, 2010.
As I already knew based on my two previous Hjorten-reviews, the EPs Bleak and Travel, the few years old Swedish solo-project manifests itself through a somewhat broad scale of different styles. This release compiles three of the artist's EPs that he released on the label Witte Dood, with two bonus tracks (4 & 5). Stylistically the compilation is dark ambient-based, with some classic horror-influence - the song titles were named as they were due to pornography serving as the main sound source, although you may not even notice it when listening to the songs. All the songs sound as if they were from the same recording sessions, which makes the album flow naturally despite it being a compilation.
The five minutes long opener is centered around its slow rhythm provided by a really grainy and monotonic beat. It has some even eerie moans in the background, ones that sound like ghosts or some stretched male choral notes. The ambient sounds surrounding the track are not too special in the end, and are pretty minimal as well, but they still give the track a really appealing and even haunting feel. A good opener. The eleven-minute follower begins with some slowed speaking or moaning that's been processed to inaudible mush, while making it sound like it was coming from deep underwater. It has some more or less cheap-sounding and high-pitch cello synth notes emphasizing it's eerie feel, until they switch to some monotonous and lower electronic drone that brings out the underwater-aspect. The track tones down somewhere after its halfway, making me feel that it would've needed some more content or ideas to make it more interesting and enjoyable as a whole song.
The sixteen-minute third track brings out the core of the compilation. It consists of minimal bassy drone in the background, hoarse, echoed and otherwise manipulated speaking, and some lenghtened string instrument synth-notes to add some classic horror movie-influence. These three create a minimal and eerie soundscape with minimal variation, and the biggest alterations in the soundscape come from, for example, the synths' occasional abscence. The lenghty fourth track has no synths, but employs some church bells and stronger, more notable vocal tracks as well as more powerful percussion work to create and deliver its (in comparison) more overwhelming and not as traditional "horror-like" darkness. The three-minute closer has some disco-beats, but otherwise employs the familiar eerie synths. It's more concise and equally more powerful and simplified than it's predecessors, making it a good closer for the compilation.
I can only say that I expected nothing this traditional from the artist. The songs rely on really minimal changes and manipulations, but still manage to create strong atmospheres; especially so as they support each other nicely. My main concern with the album is its use of digital sounds with the drones and string instruments; even though their sound fits the atmospheres, they get really boring really quickly, which really brings the songs' value down as well. The songs themselves are rather good, but the source sounds lack the power and depth that would make the compilation really enjoyable in numerous listens. My guess is that the artist got so inspired in the creation that he rushed the songs to their finish, and was too hasty to work on them until they're 100% finished. It's truly a shame, as this record would've had the capabilities for achieving a lot more. Still worth checking out if you like really minimal and horror-esque tunes and atmospheres.
7- / 10