Review: Deaf Center - "Owl Splinters"

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Deaf Centers

Owl Splinters

By Jefferson

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Something of an event in the ambient/neo-classical world, a new Deaf Center album! The Norwegian duo of Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland are back after the lengthy (overlong) six-year gap between their previous release on the UK's Type Records and what is arguably their masterwork in Owl Splinters. Like their previous albums, this is a largely acoustic music, comprised of strings, piano, electric guitar with subtle electronic textural touches and ornamentation. Unlike those works, the new album is more precise and austere in its construction, yet conversely, it's also significantly more dynamic and heavy-hitting. Recorded at the Durton studio of Icelandic composer Nils Frahm, this is a deeply atmospheric heavy work that fits between known genres like ambient and doom, but has a stately maturity that prevents it from being anything theatrical or consciously 'spooky.' What to call it then? Black acoustic? Doom classical? Their objectives are even further revealed in the Miasmah label that Skodvin runs with a roster of 'Music for Scenes and Places' comprised of minimal electronics, neo-classical composition and cinematic soundtrack-like atmospheric works. Those who attended the Decibel Festival 2008 ambient showcase will recognize some of these wonders as prototype versions of the same tracks were heard in their achingly beautiful set at the Triple Door. Great to finally have a recording of these sublimely resonant dark pieces! Certainly worth the wait, but let's hope it's not another six years before we get more sonic wonders of this kind from them."