21 Aug 2022 - Skyler
Electronic, Ambient | https://www.12k.com/ | Release date: 01 Apr 2022
Pjusk and Chihei’s new magical soundscape.
A world buzzes outside, not the one you’re familiar with. This one drones, a subtle hum and the late reflections of an organ, maybe a choir, in a cathedral. You dream of white-blue clouds, mountains pass you by, snowy peaks and cold streams below. Time slows, then speeds up as you see the sky rotate and flash as the sun spins and stars shoot across the sky. Feeling both lost but also a deep sense of comfort you lie down and enjoy the chaotic and serene views. Despite all that’s happening, you feel centered and calm. Time seems to rip apart and fold in on itself. You wake up, you’re just listening to a new album by Pjusk featuring Chihei Hatakeyama.
Pjusk is the monicker of Norwegian ambient artist, Jonstein Dahl Gjelsvik. He is heavily inspired by the harsh yet beautiful Norwegian weather. A cabin high up in the mountains is where he calls home when creating his music. He seeks to evoke loneliness, time, and landscape where you will sit in a quiet, endless night. Svaberg is the 12th album by composer Pjusk and is quite a journey.
While Pjusk often is associated with a darker ambient music, he doesn’t see his own work this way. He more closely relates to ambient minimalism or experimental music and I think that’s a fair comparison. This album in particular is far from dark or brooding, the overall quality I find to be more uplifting or calming than brooding, something I think the rest of his work also share. When talking about ambient music many people assume it is boring or oppressive or just there to hold the background. While some ambient music is definitely used this way, the composers often intend for it to also be listened to actively. The history of ambient music includes composers like Satie, Aphex Twin, Solar Fields, and plenty more that have active music that is just as good, if not better, when listened to attentively.
Svaberg is definitely a familiar feeling ambient album as it does many of the things we expect, field recordings, long and spacious reverbs, a sometimes confusing tonal center with plenty of noise. This familiarity is perfect for those aware of other ambient artists to get into this album but pay attention and dig a little deeper and you’ll find a very thoughtfully crafted experience. There are moments of true joy and surprise with sounds of singing, radio static, vinyl, rain, and even something that sounds like a distant train horn.
This is an album I’ve listened through many times both before and during this review process. I’ve yet to get bored, there are parts that I know will happen but that still tickle my ears just right each time I hear them. The sounds of space and sweet detuning are why I keep coming back. If you’re a fan of ambient music, absolutely give this one a listen, you won’t regret it!