The immersion into the beautiful world of dimmings lights and shadows (listen now)
Deaf Center is the Norwegian duo consisting of Erik K. Skodvin and Otto A. Totland, two multi-instrumentalists and old friends sharing the same passion for rich, multilayered and emotional ambient soundscapes expressed in lush chamber undertones, hypnotic dynamics and cinematic pace. Their grandeur compositions, most of which were released on Type Records, occupy a vivid terrain, where monumental sonic landscapes meet intimate piano drops, where joyful bliss goes together with anxious longing and neon cities shed their lights on unexplored woodlands or the mazes of unknown rain-soaked urban areas. Duo's sound fits into both subjective and objective domains by having strong visual presence, evoking powerful imagery and at the same time relating to one’s inner emotions, providing the soundtrack to the twists of our internal narratives and retrospect explorations. Thus the invoked feelings might range from haunted reminiscences to daydream contemplations or nighttime wanderings.
Erik (whose Secret 13 mix can be accessed here) and Otto further explored their creative impulses with their side projects. Erik sculpted haunted dark ambient atmospherics with horror undertones under his Svarte Greiner moniker as well as dived into acoustic explorations in B/B/S project together with Aidan Baker and Andrea Belfi. He also founded the celebrated Miasmah label. Otto collaborated with Huw Roberts under the name Nest and released the subtly refined "Retold" album, which crystalized the lush haziness and provided a pure contemplation in subliminal peacefulness. Erik’s and Otto’s individual creative excursions provided a better insight into the structure of Deaf Center musical sources emphasizing the two poles of its sonic core. 2014 was a prolific year for the project and both its members. The melancholic “Recount” 12" together with Erik’s and Otto’s respective critically acclaimed solo albums “Flame” and “Pino” were released on Sonic Pieces label. All this was accompanied by their tour in Japan. The finishing touch of the year was the opening performance for Slowdive in London. This was a great pairing as both bands have quite contrastive, but at the same time similar sensibilities in targeting the luminescence and shades of the emotional core.
“Secret Thirteen Mix 140” is the compilation of Deaf Center unreleased material recorded between 2003 and 2010. To describe this collection consisting of 12 compositions as a mix would not be very accurate as this mesmerizing journey qualifies to be treated as an album providing listener with alternate paths, digressions and alleyways of Deaf Center already released material. This piece of work marks the 10th anniversary of the project and serves as an introspect career statement showcasing the essential elements of duo’s diverse, yet consistent musical path. According to the band, this is a very personal material, which also includes unfinished and different versions of the tracks. It is a strange and at the same time enchanting trip across the backstage of band’s history serving as a reminder of the past and at the same time the proof of the timeless nature and underlying textural core of Deaf Center’s music.
The selection starts with a monumental hazy waltz-like hypnosis called “Social Lucy Waltz”. It is an uncompromising exercise in sheer and haunting gracefulness and is definitely one of the most beautiful moments of the duo acting as a perfect opening statement. These echoing loops then smoothly fade into “Lob Throb”, which introspect, yet very homely acoustics reminds of the moments that made “Neon City” so thrilling and captivating. The mix draws its own map and travels across the soundscapes filled with lakes of monolith drones, baroque elegance and proudly ends with silently touching orchestral washes of “All” recording dating back to 2010. The collection reminds the abstract lyricism of Rene Duvillier’s painting “Les 3 Mondes”. Both these pieces share the subconscious depth and the qualities of strangely unknown world of light and shadows, which requires patience and close observation to fully perceive its staggering beauty and majesty. Rene merged the motives of early abstract art (e.g. Wassily Kandinsky) with his own personal sensibilities to reveal the beauty of the lost pre-WWII Paris in a subtle and forward-thinking way. Deaf Center also uses similar building blocks to create abstract pieces for delving into our own emotional selves by adopting the modern classical means for the modern age.
This is indeed an excellent closing of the intense 2014 and a great year-end statement of the project as well as the powerful impulse for the new beginnings. It is an open invitation to embrace the past and to look forward towards the unclear, yet inviting future.
Deaf Center - Social Lucy Waltz (2004)
Deaf Center - Lob Throb (2003)
Deaf Center - Pond (2006)
Deaf Center - Forest (2010)
Deaf Center - Skins (2005)
Deaf Center - DC gets home (2004)
Deaf Center - Dust (2006)
Deaf Center - Mute Interlude (2005)
Deaf Center - Place (2005)
Deaf Center - Cello (2007)
Deaf Center - Paris (2007)
Deaf Center - All (2010)
All tracks are previously unreleased and (c) Deaf Center 2003 - 2010 mixed by Erik K Skodvin
Dust - from 2006-2008 live shows.
DC gets home - Walking around Otto´s house with a recorder while playing off a loop. Anno 2003.
Place - Alternative cut, Stone Beacon from Pale Ravine.
Cello - Unfinished track based around a cello samplepack.
Paris - We didn't go - or rather - we never went.
All - Intro/outro based on later live shows. Taken from the Owl Splinters recordings