- Danny Wolfers, the artist best known as Legowelt, recently introduced yet another alias: Saab Knutson. He describes Electronic Music From The Faroe Islands 1993, his first record under the new name, as "an extremely gloomy ambient album from Scandinavia's most reclusive country." The notes attached to the album continue in kind, referencing the Islands' grim climate and Knutson's deep-seated emotional unrest. Wolfers is, of course, no stranger to slipping into character or penning soundtracks for imagined film biographies—the oddly addictive The Rise And Fall Of Manuel Noriega, on his defunct cult CD-R label Strange Life Records, is still the best and most baffling example.
Even at his most esoteric and conceptual, Wolfers has always been dimly visible through the curtain behind his characters. But on Faroe Islands, he succeeds in disappearing almost competely. The most effective moments come when he evokes life on the Islands: bitterly cold arctic winds, the inherent creepiness of isolated, separatist communities and the spectre of his alter ego's looming insanity. Some shorter tracks consist of off-kilter looped phrases. "Thors Haven 9" clips slightly too soon and repeats eternally like a half-finished sentence. "Tiny Sombre Sliders" is stretched and distorted to disfigurement. The most literal unravelling comes via "Emotional Parameters," where a childlike melody is weighed down by heavy harmonic discord.
There's a delicacy at work on Faroe Islands, with more ruminative and conventionally ambient pieces unfolding at a suitably glacial pace. Others attempt to establish specific moods with varying levels of success. "Music From Our Golden Age" is solemnly choral and medieval, more so than "Singularity at Magnus Cathedral," which wouldn't be out of place in a schlocky horror setting. Forever the dedicated vintage synth fetishist, Wolfers drops shoutouts to three of the key tools used on the album, granting each machine its own moment to shine. "Night Tracker DX100" offers minimalist chills with its singly deployed notes, gritty analog reverb and spooky accents. The Roland-indebted "Knutson JX3P For Videostore" is perhaps the most strictly hauntological production, drawing on '80s filter sweeps and retro-futuristic soundtrack tropes. "Astrodoxma Alpha 2" closes the album lightly, with lush, underwater breath bubbles and a palpable sense of relieved pressure.
Faroe Islands appeared a fortnight before the real Faroe Islands received international condemnation for the ritual tradition of grindadráp, a grisly hunt-and-slaughter of whales and other marine life. The cartoon dolphin that appears on the album cover, wielding a Yamaha DX100 above scenes of calm rural Island idyll, may just be a tongue-in-cheek reference, but given Wolfers' boundless imagination, it could very well signal the beginning of a bizarre revenge tale. In either case, something is seriously amiss on Kuntson's mysterious islands, something strange, intriguing, a bit comical, and oftentimes unsettling.
01. The Stars Awaken
02. Night Tracker DX100
03. Imported Pizza Snack
04. Me And Your Shadow
05. Music From Our Golden Age
06. Thors Haven 9
07. Knutson JX3P For Videostore
08. Emotional Parameters
09. Tiny Sombre Sliders
10. Singularity At Magnus Cathedral
11. Duc De Satyr Lagabo
12. Milky Way Megabar
13. Astradoxma Alpha 2