Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Review: Per Byhring - Ettertid
I honestly do not know a damn thing about this album whatsoever. On Last.fm this guy has less than 200 listeners, which is microscopic even by my standards, and a search of his name and the album comes back with his Soundcloud page as the top result. Even his supposed Per alias has less than a thousand listeners, and that's a name shared with a Latvian beatbox group. Per Byhring is, in other words, a complete unknown. He doesn't even have a Discogs page.
So how did I find this album? Well, Spotify recommended it to me while I was listening to another, completely unrelated album. Not sure why, but perhaps when you're dealing with such minute listener bases, the odd explorations of one or two listeners can influence its recommendations algorithms. It was a surprise that this album is so utterly unknown, because it's remarkably well written and produced for a guy who basically seems to be right at the start of his career. I know as well as anyone that great musicians who can produce fantastic, professional-sounding records can still linger in total obscurity, but this is the kind of album that should be garnering at least a cult blog following.
So what does it sound like? Well it's instrumental and mostly electronic, with lots of 4/4 DOOF-DOOF-DOOF beats, but it doesn't feel like a dance record at all. It's more like one of those hipster-techno records, of a similar ilk to The Field or Four Tet. And no, I don't actually think Four Tet makes techno. Lighten the fuck up. There's lots of live instrumentation, particularly guitar leads, and rich interwoven melodies. The percussion is not particularly clubby, but the beats do feel a little more lively and propulsive than all that trendy gloomy techno I've been writing about. The mood of this album is mostly chirpy and upbeat, so it does make sense to have an upbeat dance thunk underpinning it. It's all delightfully put together, with a real "proper musician" feel to all the songwriting.
This really is an album that should have got a whole lot more attention than it actually has, and it's still a bit of a mystery to me. It's not particularly that I love this sound - it's a little bit too cheerfully upbeat for me to really bite its arm off. I always like some emotional contrast in any album, to prevent it becoming monotonous. However, I could level the same complaint at any number of critically adored albums, and this is still a very good album that could shift thousands if the likes of Pitchfork found out about it.
Genre: Pastoral-guitar-house (?)
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 8/10