[Reviewed by stark]
After several years of hibernation the Reverse Alignment label is back in business, and “Grader” by Skare turns out to be its first release after the break. Skare is a project the history of which can be comparable to that of Reverse Alignment to a certain level. Pretty decent beginnings – in this case “Solstice City” recorded for Glacial Movements – and a long period of lethargy, instead of going with the flow.
Skare is a collaboration of Mathias Josefson, known mostly from Moljebka Pvlse, and Per Åhlund (a.o. Diskrepant). Honestly though, “Solstice City” was cool, but not that cool that I’d notice its absence on my musical map of the world over those six years. Just a good isolationist ambient piece that I’ve heard many times and always gives me a lot of pleasure. Yet there’s no denying that with such a flood of music that I’ve absorbed (and still do), some sounds and drones – excluding the top ambient league – start to mix with each other in my head a little bit.
Do not be fooled by the year of its release, as the two fragments of which “Grader” consists are the footage of a live performance that took place even before the release of “Solstice City”. In these passages they’re doing what they can do best, namely generating cold isolationist ambient. Deprived of sunlight, operating with harsh blue tones, such as the one emanating from the cover.
The landscape, evocatively revealed before the listener, hasn’t seen any people for many months, perhaps years. Silence reigns everywhere, sometimes disturbed by some more rapid gust of wind or ice floes scraping one of the other. There’s nothing particularly new or original, but that’s not the point. That suggestiveness of transmission, imagery, and the force with which music acts on the imagination: in this aspect, Skare is doing just fine. Can’t say it’s a surprise, since such veterans are responsible for the project. Sometimes in glacial ambient there are melancholic tones or at least shreds of samples introducing at least a tiny percentage of something I’d call a human factor. On “Solstice City” a piano sound appears. Twice. For about a second. If you don’t listen carefully, you may not even notice. This is winter, but not like the one we had – at least in theory – just a few weeks ago. It’s nuclear winter, lasting for decades. One that has covered all forms of civilization with a thick layer of ice. Those temperatures in the track titles are far too high.
In the first track these glitches bother me a bit. For a moment, I even wondered whether it was intentional or I had accidentally received a corrupt copy or something. Also I have the impression that sometimes it lacks a bit of power and density of sound, but since this is a transcript of a live recording, I was prepared for it. In general, it doesn’t prevent the positive assessment of this material. Material of a project which doesn’t pretend to be something bigger than it actually is. Per and Mathias only want to cut the blood flow in the veins of the listener. And they’re really damn effective in it.