Label: RareNoise Records, 2018
Personnel - Mats Gustafsson: baritone and tenor saxophones, live electronics; Kjetil Moster: baritone and tenor saxophones, electronics; Sofia Jernberg: vocals; Anders Hana: baritone guitar; Greg Saunier: drums, vocals.
Worshippers of goth new music, The End is an unconventional bass-less quintet that boasts a sturdy frontline composed of inveterate Scandinavian improvisers Mats Gustafsson and Kjetil Moster. Blowing their baritone and tenor saxophones with fiery consistency, the pair infuses a striking raw power on the material, which is edgily harmonized by the baritone guitarist Anders Hana, and rhythmically driven by Deerhoof’s trailblazing drummer Greg Saunier. Rounding out the group is the spectacular Ethiopian-born singer Sofia Jernberg, whose singular experimental flights find purpose in the type of instrumentation created by her peers.
Conjuring an array of six energetic, if somewhat obscure, tunes on their debut CD, the band starts off with “Svarmod”, a bizarre sound-blast with guttural guitar noise, powerful saxophone unisons, and agonizing vocal wails. They proceed with “Vemod” in a clear invocation of Jimi Hendrix’s grooving rock riffs. Jernberg’s voice, blending the sweetness of Mazzy Star and the pugnacity of PJ Harvey, is well backed by saxophone and electronics, producing a sort of neo-psychedelia flavor. Gustafsson and Hana penned these two first tracks.
Composed by the collective, the tenebrous “Translated Slaughter” starts with the vocalist whispering in a creepy-crawly narration with occasional hissing sounds and flimsy ethereal-like passages. The stark guitar drones and irregular drumming underneath are in the basis of a sonic eccentricity that gains further intriguing moods with Jernberg’s abrasive vocalization. If her highly flexible expression gets closer to Diamanda Galas on this tune, then on the mutable socio-political manifesto, “Don’t Wait”, she impressively embarks on the no wave style of Lydia Lunch. Several current problems and challenges of today’s vulnerable world are denounced with a blistering energy, also infecting the baritonists, who cooperate actively on top of guitar-driven, indie rock-based grooves. Music and lyrics are by Gustafsson.
Moster’s “Both Sides Out” closes out the album with spooky cinematic tones. It carries a pestilent toxicity in its morose atmosphere, a sort of eerie gothic post-punk bolstered by a pungently dissonant improvisation from one of the baritonists.
Edgy, intense, and positively confrontational, The End boasts a unique aesthetic that feels simultaneously uncanny and strapping. The album, recorded after only three gigs, has not only something serious to say to the world but also proposes something completely new in its artistic development of sound and concept.
02 - Vemod ► 04 - Don’t Wait ► 06 - Both Sides Out