The Grey Dawning

An intense and foreboding set is Den Förföljdes Gryning (iDEAL RECORDINGS 178), realised by the formidable Daniel Rozenhall in Stockolhm, here appearing simply as Rozenhall. This Swedish maestro has been darkening our days for some time now, with such releases as Forecusst in 2008 and Eyeland in 2003; Rozenhall is often associated with the Firework Edition and Fylkingen labels in Sweden, and for the latter he recently curated the four excellent LPs in the historic Text-Sound Compositions series.

Continuing that association, Den Förföljdes Gryning was recorded at the famed EMS studios in Stockholm. It’s not exactly in the same vein as “classic” electro-acoustic composition, and at first twitch of the eyebrow it’s easier to connect this with contemporary noise music than avant-garde classical, but it’s evident that Rozenhall puts a tremendous amount of care and effort into building this layered assault of sinister sound. Two side-long suites shall be thine – or at least they would be if this very limited LP hadn’t already sold out (I own copy #79 of just 99 exemplaires). Side A, ‘Den Förföljdes Dröm’, is the money shot as far as Rozenhall’s press agent is concerned, that Michael Bay-styled overbearing figure who currently handles all of Rozenhall’s business in between puffs on a Cuban cigar. This A-side has everything – nauseating loops and repetitions, rather unpleasant unnatural sounds, and a tendency towards stacking multiple tracks and layers. It just won’t quit…as soon as you think it can’t get any more suffocating, another thirteen coils of sonic pain appear, like so many venomous snakes leaping out from an underground cavern. The sense of panic and alarm is palpable. Never one to settle for lukewarm emotions, Rozenhall is not out to merely unsettle the listener with dark drones, but rather to attenuate our nervous system with his psychic cheese-grater, applying the torture mercilessly. “Listening to his compositions is like being sucked into a black hole,” writes one enthused listener on the Bandcamp page. This does go some way to account for the sense of being drawn into a vortex of pain and uncertainty that this record induces so far.

Side B ‘Den Förföljdes Gryning’ gets us to a fairly similar place by slightly different means. While Side A keeps piling on unwanted layers like grey felt blankets soaked in cholera, the B side is like a one-track train journey that simply accelerates gradually over the course of 20 mins. A simple device, but highly effective…it’s like watching the engineer shifting his accelerator stick with the calm assurance of a complete loon, whose monitor screen tells his there are no red lights for the next 200 miles ahead (and even if there were, he proposes to ignore them). At first you can’t believe this madman would dare to proceed with such a wanton act of self-harm. Then the reality hits home. Of the two, this one is slightly more digestible in terms of its sheer horror, but it comes a tad closer to delivering the hoped-for “hallucinatory” sensations. If you enjoy the thrilling but troubling emotion of everything spinning out of control as you clutch helplessly for something solid to hang on to, this is just the music for you. A fine addition to the Ideal Recordings catalogue. From 16th April 2019.