Lost Tribe Sound has just seen the final part of the “We Stayed The Path That Fell To Shadow” subscription series of 2019 released with two albums from the Danish trio Skyphone. The series, a massive undertaking of Eight Lps, CD’s and Digital followed on from their equally epic 2018 campaign “Prelude to The Decline” and shows the label and it’s vision to produce high quality works is still strong. Much like a sporting organisation there is a lot of planning (pre-season), the regular releases (the season) and the relaxing part (end of season get away). Hopefully after a break to recharge their batteries the label will be back in 2020.
The first of the two Skyphone (a Danish trio of Mads Bødker, Keld Dam Schmidt, and Thomas Holst) releases is the re-issue of “Hildur”. Originally self released digitally back in 2014 and following some releases on the Rune Grammofon label, LTS head honcho Ryan Keane liked it so much from the first time he heard it years ago that he set about re-releasing it alongside new material on vinyl.
“‘Hildur” was recorded at Hotell Hildur, an abandoned railway hotel, located in Everöd of south Sweden. The trio utilized a number of locations throughout the hotel to lend to the acoustics of the recordings. Mads recalls, “There was a really particular vibe at the place, the acoustics were great and there were hallways and rooms that allowed for different kinds of recording. And an old drum it that we recorded using a very wide stereo setups (using high-end mics) – you can hear the remnants of those recordings all over the album. Also the slightly out of tune piano was recorded there.”
It’s hard to a grasp on the music of these two albums as they are ever changing. Leading away from the more Americana sort of sounds that have appeared recently on LTS and possibly hinting to an early release on the label in Part Timer, the Danish trio create music that feels like it draws all the influences and instrumentation in, warps it all and spits it back. Jazz like flourishes, down tempo moments, acoustic sounds, glitchy electronics, Ambience and much more construct their pieces – most times all in a single track. The end result is music that requires that you must invest time in it for the characteristics to be revealed. A simple run through or cursory glance will leave you bewildered and lost. This openness to forms sets about creating music that is less obvious or naritive driven and feels more like taken from blurry dreams.
The album’s preceding single “Four Colours” features all that I have written above with vocal elements. The standout for me on the track is not really the music, which I do like, it’s more the rich vibrancy of the material that bursts into life sonic enveloping you and showing the music’s depth and textures.
A piece like “Palinode” exhibits this perfectly with its almost hazy feel, while “Poetics of Space” is where the jazz feel combines with acoustic instrumentation that is then put through a cut up process like the Dadaists or Burroughs used.
“Aventoft” is probably the highlight for me with its fluid mix of electronica, acoustic guitar, post rock approaching sound and cinematic syntth likes that sound like horns or vice versa. It would be the type of track that I would use to demonstrate the music of the trio to.
One thing that should be noted other than the musical styles and the vibrancy of the music is the playfulness and fun vibe that comes across. A contented ebullience is easily observed across the eleven tracks as well as some outstanding mastering, which draws you in and makes the process of discovery that much easier.
“Many of the ideas on the “Marsh Drones” emerged from field recordings from the area around the Tønder marshlands recorded by various members of the band. They provided a backdrop to the loops and long sessions of guitar, bass, synthesizers and samples that are slowly mangled and rearranged into counterpointing and fugue-like melodies, insistent on repetition while odd atmospheres of distant drones and noise works to modify and shift the composition into new shapes. The music is minimal. restrained, but rich in detail like the landscape ,it attempts tp resonate with. There are remnants of folk music, melodies that are almost recognizable, but dub music and something distinctly digital intersects itself into the woodwork and authenticity.”
The thing that is most noticeable for me in regards to the material on this album five years on from “Hildur” is the more matured feeling that comes across. That previous album is not immature in any fashion, but the overwhelming joy has been re-focused into a style of music that is very similar, but feels more subtle and considered. After all, we all change and grow and this is shown in this album. A track like “Marsksonder” demonstrates that their musical fluidity is still strong while their considered approaching shining through in a more traditional band format. However the following track “Murmalvejr” reminds the listener of the eclectic nature of their pieces, never truly being pigeonholed into a particular sound or styles. The music could easily be classified as electronica, but that would be missing a whole facet of it.
“Klev” released as a preceding single has a moodiness to it demonstrated through both the darkness of the electronics and the acoustic guitar. It also shows the collagic way trio approach music, not only in the way of instrumentation but also the way the compare and contrast sound sources. Both “Lunar Flood” and “Husk” align with other Lost Tribe Sound artists with the use of instruments such as Banjo and flourishes of guitars. “Lunar Waves” in particular stands out with it’s drumming and layered guitars (and Banjo) over minimal sparse beats, almost like their take on Americana/Post Rock. “Husk” is a melting pot of Piano, Guitar, Kitchen sink collection of electronics melding in together that warp and unwarp in an ever moving fashion. The album winds down with “Les Clouds” which leads you into fractured Ambient tones that sound like machines breaking down emitting and spitting their final sounds. It’s a kind of piece that throws you a curve ball to finish on, but hints at further directions the band could venture into (unless they already did so on the early Rune Grammofon albums I am not familiar with). The ghostly vocals, guitar and bass add a dimension to the piece that makes it a reflective track to end the album on.
Over these two albums you can see that there is a lot to tie them in together stylistically, but there is a definite difference between the two. While a piece like “Palinode” could easily fit on “Marsh Drones”, the early works have a more hope filled innocence that makes you think that is it maturity that has changed the trio somewhat in the following five or so years or is their outlook different these days. I recommend starring with “Hildur” first and then comparing it with “Marsh Drones”. Both albums are available on limited vinyl (200 copies)” and Digital.