Nearly a year has passed since the release of Åke Parmerud’s creative collection Growl, which included pieces inspired by birds, machines, vinyl grooves and heavy metal growls. Nécropolis covers glass, voices, a blind dreamer and the city of the dead. The specificity of each piece distinguishes Parmerud’s work from that of others; he covers each subject thoroughly before moving on to the next.
Take for example Dreaming in Darkness, developed in conjunction with Natasha Barrett. This piece purports to provide the backdrop of a blind person’s dreams, and is rife with cinematic sonics: footsteps, closing doors, tolling bells, leaking water and the like. The effect is only marginally unnerving. More often, the listener leans forward, curious to hear what may unfold next, especially when the track falls into silence halfway through. From this point forward, the sounds are more subdued: skitters rather than knocks, suggestions rather than sources. While dreams are all too often the inspiration for blandness, the protagonist’s blindness enables these to be pronounced.
Parmerud apologizes for writing a piece based on the sounds of glass, calling it “far from original”. It’s an endearing statement, yet unnecessary, as Crystal Counterpart is specific, unique and personal. When Parmerud was a child (and many of us share this experience), he often heard the sounds of conversation and dinnerware downstairs as his parents entertained. These same glasses are used in this piece: the sounds that once lulled him to sleep are now part of an intensely musical experiment. It’s clear that his parents’ parties never sounded quite like this, with drones and trills and electronic enhancements. Yet the tone is captured: something mysterious, alluring and (slightly) forbidden, the adult world as heard through the ears of a child.
ReVoiced is a sequel of sorts to Grains of Voices, an earlier work containing global samples of the human voice, compiled during the artist’s travels. These “leftover” voices have now become the basis of a new piece, perhaps less appealing to readers of this site due to our instrumental preferences, but solidly experimental in construction. The points in which the voices disappear into filaments inspire the highest degree of curiosity. The title track is the most overtly musical, as it contains “the remains of some of the greatest music of all times … in various states of decomposition.” This particular word – decomposition – is well chosen, as it implies the opposite of the composer’s pen. The piece operates as a sonic skeleton, joined by sinews of electronic sound. By de-contextualizing these classical sounds, Parmerud leaves no point of reference but his own; those unfamiliar with these snippets may one day hear the originals and think them copies. By leading his listeners to think about music, memory, and impression, Parmerud scores another success.