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Penpals Forever (& Ever)

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Album Review

The expanded version of the original Penpals Forever cassette captures Erik Skodvin (aka Svarte Greiner) in fine creative health, the more so because he uses it to demonstrate that it's not simply about one-note doom and gloom from his neck of the woods (as the album title perhaps wryly illustrates). The original two tracks from the cassette remain enjoyable portraits of Greiner's work in exploratory mode away from extreme darkness: the crackling overdubbed guitar lines on the opening "211" feel like something slowly tuning itself up to a contemplative, moody, but not darkly overpowering layering of drones, echo, and recurrent sparks of further notes. "212," in contrast, is much more immediately melancholy in feeling, a slow loop of background tones playing through tape fuzz as additional guitar screeches and skronks emerge over its quarter-hour length. The three new tracks further the this theme, finding a middle ground between melancholy and a broader emotional palette. "231" consists of solo bass under similar amounts of echo and sustain as the main two tracks, a bit aimless but atmospheric enough. "232" aims away from immediately obvious instrumental performances for sheer swells of tones and arcing sound, creating a suggestion of vast caverns. "233" concludes the disc with something between Thomas Köner's early experiments with gongs and ambience and his own familiar, dark black walls of feedback; though it then all wraps up with a bit of forlorn guitar, it's a fine conclusion.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Svarte Greiner ("Black Branches") was the nom de scène of one Erik K. Skodvin, founder of the Miasmah label, who also recorded as half of Deaf Center. While his work in that shadowy duo had a lush, cinematic feel somewhat akin to Angelo Badalamenti's film scores for David Lynch, his solo offerings came from a much darker place. On these albums, indefinable organic sounds merge with deep drones, creaks, and scrapes drawn from the strings of cello and guitar, producing a dark, disturbing atmosphere...
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Penpals Forever (& Ever), Svarte Greiner
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