Posted on July 30th, 2013 (8:43 am) by Matt Essert

Trying to make new types of music must be pretty hard. At least that’s the sense I get when I listen to Dystopico, the third and latest release by the Stockholm trio of Per Nordmark, Gustav Bendt, and Christoffer Roth, collectively know as Kriget. Perhaps it’s the fact that Kriget is a band of bass, drums, and saxophone, or perhaps it’s that the band has claimed the new album "describes our civilization as an inferno, a beautiful and frightening world where the well-known gets unexpected dimensions, where the catastrophe threatens, and where the war is present, a never ending fatal war," but either way, Dystopico moves in many directions with a variety of ideas and tones trying to pull together disparate sounds into something new and unique. Though it could perhaps be most easily described as having elements of EDM, free jazz, math rock, and prog rock, Dystopico takes chances by throwing out many normal notions of music and trying to create something almost entirely new. It’s an exciting and admirable adventure, but over the course of the forty-two-minute, ten-song album, you get the sense Kriget may have bitten off more than they could chew.

I’d like to return to the quote with which Kriget describes their album: "Dystopico describes our civilization as an inferno, a beautiful and frightening world where the well-known gets unexpected dimensions, where the catastrophe threatens, and where the war is present, a never ending fatal war." Ignoring the fact that it’s fairly difficult for a wholly instrumental album to really say anything like this, this line is both an appropriate and dangerous way to describe an album. On the one hand, there is a lot of beauty in Dystopico, and quite a bit more destruction, and the album does in a way feel like a constant torrent of unexpected catastrophic noise urging itself into some form of music—this is what I think Kriget is going for. But on the other hand, if an album is really trying to sound like “a never ending fatal war,” the tracks are subject to sounding a lot like death and destruction and not very much like real music (thumping bass drums aside). And unfortunately, quite a few of the tracks sound more like this second idea than the first.

Kriget often finds themselves repeating the same paradigm from song to song: building up a vague idea of a melody or at least bass line, taking it to the extreme in a few different direction, and then layering on noise after noise until it all gets to the point of being unbearable before just barely reigning it in, and they repeat this again and again. On top of this, there’s really only a couple songs that establish much of anything like a melody (“Dystopico,” “Holy Mountain,” and “Ordinary Accidentally” come to mind, and they happen to be some of the LP’s best tracks). But what is also interesting about the album is that at many times it sounds more like a single DJ produced album than the work of three musicians (if that single DJ had split-personality disorder and sometimes argued with himself about each song’s direction). Aside from a few tracks that actually sound like they have a saxophone, most of Dystopico just sounds like layers of bass, drums, and synthesized noises, which could either mean that the musicians are so in-sync that they sound like one brain, or that there’s nothing here that really sounds like the work of a band with real instruments. Sometimes is the former, but often it’s the latter, and in those cases, it’s a letdown.

As far as noise albums go, Dystopico is solid, but not breathtaking. It’s inventive, but sometimes confused. And it’s daring, but sometimes overburdened. Based on what’s coming out of my speakers on almost any of these tracks, I get the sense that Kriget would be some quite special to hear perform live, but as far as the studio album goes, there’s a lot left on the table, and even more spilled off of it.

Track List:
1. Sleeping With Buddha
2. Malocchio
3. Dystopico
4. Holy Mountain
5. Aghori Diet
6. He Lives In The Same Forest As Me
7. Say No More
8. Don’t Worry It Will Be Over Soon
9. King Of The Cowboys
10. Ordinary Accidentally

kriget, dystopico, Nordmark, Bendt, Roth, Sweden, rock, saxophone, album
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

59 / 100
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