Severin - Safe Following Distance - Petrola 80

Severin Safe Following Distance front cover

Severin "Safe Following Distance" album cover.

Severin, aka Jens Konrad Barrett of Lyra Valenza, drops his physical and emotional debut EP, exploring the topic of social media stalking.


For a while now the thriving Danish experimental underground seems to have been focusing more and more on contemporary dilemmas of web-induced alienation, the effects of social media, a digitally borderless world and real human emotions entangled within it, interacting with cybernetic spectres. These themes are quite prominent in Loke Rahbek’s work, especially Croatian Amor. The recent Posh Isolation compilation, I Could Go Anywhere But Again I Go With You also touches upon these issues, and the overall sound of the release bursts with constantly-surfacing sharp digital pads, airy synthscapes, autotuned and stretched vocals, crystal, glassy ambience. This is also the place where Severin, the project of Jens Konrad of Opal Tapes’ Lyra Valenza, first surfaced.

Now he is back with an EP release on Petrola 80, a label he co-manages, which was also responsible for the excellent Minais B record from 2017. Safe Following Distance continues similar conceptual patterns as it explores internet stalking and the increasing vulnerability of personal information due to the expansion of social networks. It also has an emotional undertone and touches upon personal digital alienation dramas. The four tracks of the EP shift between the rhythmic intensity of experimental bass music or playful techno, and sharp, powerful soundscapes that are sometimes spacious and some other times sonically dense. The rhythmic part is unveiled already in the opening track, New Partial Freedom, whose garage-on-steroids rhythmic and sharp oscillating arpeggios paint the view of some alternate history, where rave was born not in warehouse parties, but emerged from the deep vaults of the web. A Distance In Between starts with sharp digital shards of melancholic harmonies before being fully blown into hoover madness, yet retaining the same moody tone. It is the most mellow and hazy piece on the record, revealing the drama and tensions of online interactions and distance.

Safe Following Distance nicely balances dancefloor appeal with the message carefully encrypted in sounds, artwork details, track titles. Share Location with its almost footworkish dynamics is the high point in terms of physicality and intensity. The tiny vocal snippets remind echoes of the UK rave continuum as thick saw synth lines overlay everything with hysteric tension. The closer, Infinity 2018, acts as a denouement after an intense 15 minutes narrative, which, like a peak-time Facebook feed, gives so much sonic information to process as to ensnare you in the digital jungle. Infinity 2018 is like a gush of fresh air from an open window (whether real or virtual) with raveish and hypnotic pads stretching into a vast sonic space framed by beatless pulsations. Such a finale concludes this topical trip in a grand way and poses important questions about future trends in our privacy and the effect the digital world will continue to have on our emotional lives.

Severin - Safe Following Distance - Petrola 80

1 New Partial Freedom
2 A Distance In Between
3 Share Location
4 Infinity 2018

About Author

Paulius Ilevicius is a Secret Thirteen journalist, editor and occasional DJ focusing on more dreamy and melancholic soundscapes. Born in post-industrial town of Pavevezys, currently he lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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