A Vibrant Struggle - Soft Illusions [2:00AM Tapes - 2010]Soft Illusions apparently represents the eighth release so far to be edited solely from a single recording session from back in September 2007 when Sindre Bjerga, Jan M Iverson and Steffan de Turck tucked themselves away in a wooden cabin in the mountains of Hovden, Norway for just one weekend to, as they put it, “fill up a pile of tapes”.
So for this eighth volume of ‘The Molten Snow Tapes’ the trio have determined two twelve-minute cuts of their city-break improvisations that both reflect the presumably cold climate and rudimentary nature of their chosen location. ‘Buzzin for Hum’ gives almost everything away from its title, consisting of throbbing hums and buzzing pulses sewn together by the most minimal of marches on a crusty old drum machine. The initial bleak hum recalls the mid-range drone of the rocketships in the thirties’ Flash Gordon serial, but unfortunately doesn’t share its “thrilling, strange world adventures” as their clumsy interplay is filtered up and down the frequency range accompanied by random feedback. That is until a burbling acid pad arpeggiates unexpectedly across the dour drone evolving into a light alien rain before petering out into sparse droplets.
Second cut, ‘Dead City’ also confuses in it’s unplanned journey that starts out with an electrical hum like automated transport that is continually interrupted by what seems like accidental rattles and creaks. Not before long a lightly distorted bass lazily injects a bit of regulation, creating a single-note rhythm not dissimilar to early Throbbing Gristle bass lines, before a distorted guitar whips up a tundra for power chord and feedback. These two elements fight like Japanese movie monsters for control, one strengthens as the other weakens and re-charges before they manage to vapourise each other into the ether.
Despite some brief moments where the limited sound sources contrast playfully, the pieces feel like they rely on serendipity alone and were probably much more fun to create than to consume. Although any exploration is better than none, this doesn’t always mean that treasures will be abundant along the way and ‘Soft Illusions’ feels more like an exercise in prospecting than a bounty displayed.Russell Cuzner