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Andreas Brandal – Flames and Ether

Andreas Brandal – “Flames and Ether” Tape (Oxtail Recordings, 2016)


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ANDREAS BRANDAL – “Flames and Ether” C46 (Oxtail Recordings)

Melancholy. It’s everywhere today, permeating the collective consciousness. It often manifests itself outwardly as anger, and whether or not that’s a misdirected reaction is dependent upon how you feel about the object of that anger. Andreas Brandal, the prolific Andreas Brandal (seriously, check the dude’s Discogs page), has a brand spankin’ new tape out on Oxtail, and whether you’ve got a fire in you or you’re grieving the loss of a philosophy or worldview – or even if you’ve moved on into a bleak future westworld (not necessarily Westworld) – it will speak to you in ways you might not expect, whispers across landscapes and thunder in distant clouds. Brandal’s harnessed the language of near-future dystopia by combining it with “spaghetti western” flourishes, presenting in result an apocalyptic experience, one where the oxymoronic violence and tranquility of the title have converged and spawned. The juxtaposition is strange and majestic. In short, it’s stunning.

Each of the eight pieces here convey an extreme sense of mood, fixating on that sort of sci-fi atmosphere that propels the imagination to creative new heights. There are obvious places it goes, and you can figure out your own destinations for yourself, filling in personal references from my description so far. Guitar and synthesizer, along with occasional strings and percussion, in the hands of this master, are perfectly combined for maximum transportation. A true new world is created here – Brandal should have his hand in some sort of soundtrack work, as there has to be a Hollywood studio just begging for this kind of scene-setting. But it’s out here among us, with the shellshocked and disillusioned masses, pits in our stomachs as we face the future, or the past, alternately enflamed or narcotized. And there it is, Flames and Ether, a reflection of the utter fiction of our weird, actual lives. –Ryan Masteller



Andreas Brandal, “Flames and Ether”

Hailing from Bergen, Norway, Andreas Brandal has been creating experimental music with various bands since the late ’80s, but it wasn’t until 1994 that he released his first solo record, a cassette simply titled “Tape 1.” Since then, he’s been sharing tapes, singles and CDs full of electronic deconstructions and ambient expulsions with a devoted following of fans. Expressing a fondness for both noise and traditional instruments, Brandal works at merging these two seemingly incongruent disciplines, with his releases evolving as his own understanding of the relationship between these sounds grows. Able to explore these gauzy borders without losing track of each individual influence, he forms a forceful and progressive sound that refuses to be easily labeled or categorized.

On his new release, “Flames and Ether,” Brandal constructs woozy ambient pop songs that disintegrate before your eyes and ears. Using a far more structured approach than many of his electronic peers, he emphasizes the necessary interplay between the organic and artificial natures of his work. These songs flow easily from one moment to the next, a beautiful progression of sound and rhythmic temperament that brings out the personality inherent to each of these tracks. “Flames and Ether” offers both an opaque viewpoint on musical interconnectivity and a melodic clarity that would feel completely at odds with each other in anyone else’s hands—but Brandal brings these disparate ideas together in one uncanny and utterly reflective set of songs.


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