According to reports, Norway has the highest suicide rate in the world. Perhaps it's because they see so little sunlight per year, or maybe it's for other reasons, but lately there seems to be a burst of musical energy coming out of the country, so perhaps things are turning around. In truth, music has always been pouring out of the country, but it simply hasn't been made as widely available until the past couple of years. With groups like Jaga Jazzist and Supersilent making inroads all over the world, the floodgates are bound to open even more.
That said, 1349 Rykkinn isn't the kind of group to conjure up a huge batch of listeners. Brown Ring Of Fury is the first album for one Bärd Torgersen after a six year hiatus and it's a pummeling stew of electronics, field recordings, sound collage, and just plain noise. Actually, make that Extreme Noise (note the capitalization). Torgersen had played in a huge batch of bands over the course of 12 years, helping pave the way for electronic music in Norway almost 20 years ago. He left the scene in 1996 due to major depression (maybe the statistics are true) and went on a globe-hopping journey, recording sights and sounds along the way. It's those sounds (albeit in a very bruised and battered way) that make up the bulk of this album.
In 7 tracks and 48 minutes, this album spits out the sort of electronic noise that fans of Kevin Drumm and Florian Hecker will probably enjoy bruising their eardrums to. "Extreme Sunlight" opens the disc with meltdowns of low-end rattling pulses and torched drums that shatter and fall apart in slow motion, shaking and grinding away. "Glen Kristoffersen Is Dead" follows it up with a short blast of digitally-tweaked and blistered island music (or something) before "Gilera 500 cc" comes back with what it probably would sound like if you could somehow miniaturize yourself and sit on top of a motorcycle engine as it was subsequently revving up and sprinting toward a finish somewhere (as others passed by on all sides).
As if to offer some calm from the storm of sound, "Fields With Flowers In Crazy Colors" drops right in the middle of the disc and offers up a beautiful recording of someone playing an acoustic guitar with only the slightest manipulation. It's beautiful and quiet for a moment, but quickly goes back into the torrent. The epic of the album is the 25-minute "Best Boy," a relentless digital crunch of noise that slowly becomes more and more decimated and destroyed while other layers pile on for the ride. It's hypnotic and scary, but will drive a majority listeners insane. "Buenos Aventura" closes the disc with another found-sound recording of a rather bizarre conversation somewhere, and then it's over.
Torgersen says that the album is based on the feelings he had while growing up in suburban Rykkinn in the 80s; "neo-nazis, kids shooting up dope, parents drinking the winter away, fields of flowers in crazy colors, kissing in stairways, mad love." I would agree that he hit on the sound and further say it was a mainly frustrating and difficult time, with a few fleeting moments of beauty that you want to try your best to hang onto. Because of that, I also feel compelled to say that this isn't a release that I'll listen to very often, simply because it's so claustrophobic and dense (although fans of the aforementioned artists will probably enjoy it). If I ever need an aural beatdown, though, I'll certainly know where to turn to.