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“Pale Ravine” by Deaf Center

A haunting homage to the world of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti.

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After the critical acclaim of their ‘Neon City’ EP, ‘Pale Ravine’ is the long awaited full-length realization of Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland’s musical ideals. Taking up where ‘Neon City’ left off with its epic sound collages and textural soundscapes, ‘Pale Ravine’ manages to provide a sound altogether more Lynchian and grimly cinematic. Using influences from further back in their lives, the two Norwegian musicians have looked deep into their own family histories to piece together a dusty and nostalgic epic.

Inspired by old silent 8mm film reels, the historical architecture around them and the call of the alluring Norwegian landscape, the duo set out armed with microphones to record whatever they could to capture these feelings. Sounds from battered old records, cash registers, broken machines and a half-dead piano were all blended into the mix to add a warm, homely depth to the recordings. These sounds are most evident in the track ‘Loft’, where knocks and wooden creaks give an almost claustrophobic feel to the music. Again on ‘The Clearing’ a subtle field recording gives the track a rich and involving background and helps build up the mysterious aura before launching a skewed 1930s circus-waltz.

One of the most stand-out influences on ‘Pale Ravine’ is theatre, or at least the romance of all things theatrical. Not so much theatre in all its pretentious excesses, but the childhood apprehensiveness and the sinister undercurrents. From the muffled ticket booth ambience of ‘Lobby’ to the solemn dance of ‘White Lake’ it all appears draped in thick billowing velvet. The dense narrative technique the duo employs is almost like a reverse to a silent film and the soundtrack is provided to be accompanied by the imaginative visuals of the listener.

‘Pale Ravine’ is an album which again manages to blend elements of classical music with electronic music, yet there is something decidedly different which sets it apart from the competition. While there are elements that can be compared with contemporaries such as Max Richter, Marsen Jules or Ryan Teague – Deaf Center is altogether more other-worldly, darker and ultimately very rewarding.