Roll the Dice & Peder Mannerfelt

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Roll the Dice: Roll The Dice (2010), 6/10
Roll the Dice: In Dust (2011), 7/10
Roll the Dice: Until Silence (2014), 6/10
Peder Mannerfelt: Lines Describing Circles (2014), 7/10
Peder Mannerfelt: The Swedish Congo Record (2015), 6/10
Peder Mannerfelt: Controlling Body (2016), 6.5/10

Roll The Dice, the duo of Malcolm Pardon and Swedish techno producer Peder Mannerfelt, produced cinematic retro synth-pop on Roll The Dice (Digitalis, 2010), sometimes inspired by the lyrical melodies of Beethoven sonatas (The New Black) and sometimes mimicking 1950s exotica (Guadeloupe). The streamlined minimalism of the ten-minute Swing seems to be under the influence of Terry Riley and Steve Reich, while the magniloquent eleven-minute Undertow blends Tangerine Dream and King Crimson with an almost gamelan coda. They are all pulsing pieces that don't boast particularly impressive melodies or arrangements. This is a naive revival of vintage electronica.

In Dust (Leaf, 2011) indulges in longer compositions but still limited to minimal development and synth-only arrangement. Nonetheless, this extremely conservative strategy yields the cinematic tension of the eight-minute Iron Bridge and the lively, dense, sparkling Cause And Effect. An almost melodic crescendo in Maelstrom and a simulation of chamber music in Dark Thirty (piano, strings and trombone) introduce some dynamic elements. The peak of sensationalism comes with the horror noise and interlocking pianos of The Skull Is Built Into The Tool. While certainly not matching the brio and intensity of Michael Nyman's music, the slowly mutating and rising pattern of the eleven-minute Way Out uses minimalist repetition to craft more than just hypnosis. See You Monday sounds like another (soulful and joyful) tribute to Terry Riley until it implodes. Roll the Dice's second album is more mature and better architected.

Until Silence (Leaf, 2014) does not abandon the minimalist repetition but it weds it with symphonic arrangements. Piano and strings shape the stately melodrama of Blood In Blood Out. Strings and percussion fuel the martial and bombastic crescendo of the ten-minue Assembly, possibly their peak of pathos. Unfortunately, the rest is relatively lightweight, whether it displays the industrial-punk verve of Coup de Grace and relaxes in the ambient grace of Aridity and Haunted Piano. Closer In Deference, however, bridges the different moods of the album, creating the most unnerving tension.

Peder Mannerfelt began a more austere career with Lines Describing Circles (Digitalis, 2014), an album of instrumental sci-fi music bordering on musique concrete. Collapsion is a dystopian vignette somewhere between Brian Eno and Throbbing Gristle. Africate Consonantes sounds like a field recording of burning electrical poles, and Nihilist 87 like a field recording of cars driving on wet pavement. In Place Of Once Was could be a duo for vibrating wire and dripping water. The pulsing pieces are generally a subhuman form of dance music (Lines Describing Circles, Derrvish) except the torrid polyrhythmic Gulo Gulo Caesitas.

Mannerfelt's next project was The Swedish Congo Record (Archives Interieures, 2015), an album (24 brief pieces) meticulously crafted around an obscure field recording of Congolese music from the 1930s. However, instead of using the original as a sample, Mannerfelt decided to proceed backwards and recreate the original by using synths, field recordings and "formant filtering". Hence the various Batwa Pigmy Dance 1, Circumcision Dance and The Circumcision Bird, acquire a comic, parodistic quality. Nonetheless, the process has devastating effects on the songs proper, like Elephant Feast and Humming.

Mannerfelt's Controlling Body (2016) was built around samples of recorded music and amateur videos plus new compositions sung by Cameron Mesirow (aka Glasser). The vocal samples are dissected and warped beyond recognition until they become voiceless sounds. Mostly these skeletal pieces rely on minimalist repetition of vocal effects (Building of the Mountain), and ominous waves of vocal effects (Coast to Coast); but the process sometimes yields more disorienting combinations, from the abstract beatscape of BZ Reaction to the cold wind that sweeps Abysmal. Limits to Growth dissolves the word "create" in an anemic pulp. The pace ranges from the hysterical rhythm of Perspectives to the extremely slow beat with barely perceptible trumpet-like sounds of The Confidence of Ignorance (that ends up sounding like very slow-motion jazz music). A chaos of female voices in I Love You generates the one true song of the album. This is the perfect soundtrack for a dystopian sci-fi film.

He also released a trilogy of EPs: I, II and III (2015). The third one contains music that is even more alien (Acid Drop) and even more horrific (Limits of Control). The EP Transmissions From A Drainpipe (2016) is a less ambitious work that toys with absurdist techno (Public Images).

(Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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