Sunday, 1 March 2009
The Deer Tracks – ‘Aurora’ released 9th March 2009 (Despotzs Records)
Providing the soundtrack to the still clear memory of snow as the first rites of spring begin to glow and bloom, The Deer Tracks emerge from Sweden as worthy competitors in what promises to be a big year for Scandinavian pop music. With new albums from Norwegian’s Royksopp, Denmark’s Veto and Sweden’s own Karin Dreijer, the northern territories are proving a formidable musical force-du-jour, held together by an unrivalled collective propensity to conjour sweeping electronic landscapes of sound.
The Deer Tracks distinguish themselves from their Scandinavian contemporaries by creating music that simultaneously twinkles and crashes, imbued with the deliberate crackle and click of digitally rendered lo-fi affectations. Aurora opens with the seven minute long ‘Yes This Is My Broken Shield’ that sees creeping and clattering atmospherics studded with stuttering ticks and ringing beats. Indecipherable lyrics and an evocative piano loop are obscured by explosions of synths and strings in a climax that overwhelms in intensity, before fading into a brass-led lullaby that demonstrates that The Deer Track’s instrumental abilities stretch beyond the digital realm.
As an album opener, ‘Yes This Is My Broken Shield’ sets the tone for a meandering tour of a unique musical vision, set apart by a conscious reinventing of typical musicality. Unidentifiable sound effects blend seamlessly with orchestral elements throughout Aurora, notably in ‘127 Sexyfra’ with its clarinet and trumpet elements and the tinker of a piano heavy-set in reverb. Meanwhile the stutter and shift of ‘Chrismas Fires’ invokes a childlike window onto a wintry world, and ‘Before The Storm’ is almost Bjork-like, with its spacious brooding vocals over glitchy techno beats.
Comparisons to geographical bedfellows Sigur Ros, Múm and Mew will be hard to eschew for The Deer Tracks as they make ground among their better-established contemporaries. But on the basis of this debut, the Swedish duo are well-deserving of a place among a Scandinavian musical roll-call that consistently sets itself apart from a global climate of mundane and formulaic pop.