Two years ago, a young band called Savages made furore on the international scene with their debut album “Silence Yourself”. At the end of the year it was on every website’s year-end list, as well as landing a place on my own record shelve. The album’s sleeve was graced by a poem written by the band’s singer Jenny Beth, reading as follows: “The world used to be silent • now it has too many voices […] They will divert your attention • to what’s convenient • and forget to tell you • about yourself • we live in an age of many stimulations”
The call to sonic asceticism fascinated me. I wanted to be part of this place of focus, where there’d be no distractions, no noise, just purity and the self. This place I found in the third full-length of Norse instrumental rockers 1099. Their record “Young Pines” is an hour-long journey to a place of introspection and calm focus. Let it be clear that “Young Pines” is not an album littered with soft guitars and lush ambient music that lulls you to sleep within a minute. No, this is still a rock record. Songs like “Man the Harpoons” and “Yeager” are very loud and they will definitely blow you of your socks. However, the music on “Young Pines” carries a certain pensiveness. One that’s mainly reflected in the majestic themes and melodies that characterise each song on this album.
RELEASE DATE: 17 February 2015 LABEL: 1099 Records
They are eight in total, all very candid and pristine, often brought about in a slow and drawn-out manner. The ten minute-long “Palatine Light” is a prime example of what this album has to offer. It has a lengthy main theme that is carefully laid out over the course of the song. It’s being repeated over and over again, and with each turn the band elaborates upon it. Every instrument’s part is centred around this melody, whether it be a guitar strumming the chords, a saxophone playing a line or a drumstick hitting a snare; everything is in harmony with the main theme.
This approach to the music may alienate the listener from the essence of the album at the first listen. Because everything is so concentrated, he may not appreciate fully what is there for him to grasp. The production isn’t very cooperative in this matter either. It seems like every instrument is hiding behind the lead instrument and never seems to claw around it when it needs to. There are some very tasteful moments where the bass or saxophone divert from the melody in careful fashion, but where it almost goes unnoticed because of the lack of panning. Example at hand, a haunting solo flute on “The California Energy” is lost, even behind a simple combination of bass and drums.
In the end however, when the listener takes his time to sit with “Young Pines”, to appreciate the melancholy of “Hjorten” or the dense noise of “Krystalfabrikken”, he will find that 1099 offer their fans a world of meditative wonder. A rare bastion of careful consideration and subtlety, rather than mouthy eloquence.