Ludvig Olsen brutalizes sound samples in his new experimental outing, Trip to the Sewers. If you’re not into bent and mutilated noise, you can stop reading now. This release smacks of an art-school project, the kind of thing where if you don’t “get” it, that’s your shortcoming. I would say that this is far more accessible than his last release, Breathing Seagull, into which I had absolutely no point of entry. Here, at least, he’s infusing some structure in the clatter. “Deterioration” goes so far as to have the suggestion of a beat. The manipulated voices upon which he heavily relies are put to good use. They yawn like strings, growl like beasts, and wrap themselves into semi-identifiable shapes while still being aggressively alien. There are passages packing dark, industrial tones, like “Night Soil.” Here, feedback is partly tamed and laced through what’s either a field recording or modulated static. “Industrial Wastewater” starts off as an imposing wall of noise that feels like it’s got at least one foot in the isolationist ambient camp. Olsen manages to surprise me when he dials the sound back and unfolds the piece into something quieter but no less intense. What I like here (and yes, I said “like”) is that I find myself waiting for him to drop a fresh bolt of noise on me. Instead, the background rises into a beat and the piece takes on a third identity. This track managed to bring me onto Olsen’s side. (I will be the first to admit that after enduring Seagull, about the last thing I wanted to do was listen to more Ludvig Olsen.) Still, this is not an easy thing to get through–but if looked at in comparison to what came before, Trip to the Sewers is a sizable step in the artist’s evolution. It comes off as more thought out, less aggressively avant-garde, yet is still able to keep less adventurous listeners at arm’s length.
I had expected, quite honestly, to really dislike Trip to the Sewers. And I don’t. I’m not going to hurry back to it for more listens, but it allowed me to look at Ludvig Olsen’s work in a new and better light.
Available at Bandcamp.