Slide 1
Guest Playlist #07: Larry Wish

By Steve Dewhurst

“When I was a toddler, I had two sacred items that I consider to be keys to my life – signifiers that helped to point me in the direction I wanted to go..."

Slide 3
Something Special Happening: An Interview with Severed+Said

By Jason Cabaniss

John Touchton has spent the past eight-plus years exploring dark moods via his “ritualistic synthesizer” project, Severed+Said.

Slide 2
Scratching the Surface: Looking Back at 2021

By Steve Dewhurst

In retrospect, 2021 was hard. I mean, I knew it was hard when it was happening, but looking back it has become clear just how difficult I found it...

Pete Swanson
Enough Dark Intensity: An Interview with Jimmy Lacy of SiP

By Jason Cabaniss

"I like the idea of “cocktail music.” Something intentionally light and pleasant. I’m always trying to write music that communicates some type of positive mood and when I’m playing, trying to focus my energy there"

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Civilistjävel!, “Järnnätter”

So well crafted is the Civilistjävel! origin story, it doesn’t really matter whether you buy it or not. For a few years now, the enigmatic project has been drip-feeding us with glacially-paced, subzero dub electronics supposedly created at some point in the 90s and only recently unearthed from the archives of the unnamed artist in the never ending nights of the frigid Swedish north. The fact is that every tiny fragment of music thus far to emerge has only served to strengthen the legend, so evocative is it not only of the Peter Kuhlmann propagated school of techno ambience associated with the knotty FAX +49-69/450464 catalogue, but also of the frozen climes it is reputedly extricated from. The effect has always been perfectly transportive, whether that be to the surreptitious pleasures of uncovering obscure electronic delights hidden in smudged mag ads or to the creak and groan of the months-long midnight of the Arctic circle. (Rather Interesting was a go-to for me and my friend back in the day – a pair of North Yorkshire art weirdos dropping Naturalist records in the sixth form common room could cause a tremendous kerfuffle amongst the Bob Marley stoners and happy hardcore skinheads already at war over the sound system). 

Järnnätter is the first Civilistjävel! release outside of the Low Company “warehouse finds” that belatedly launched the project; it is also the very first release on FELT, a new label set up by Copenhagen’s Perko that seems to have affected a reveal of sorts to coincide. It doubles down somewhat on the established concept, taking its title from a Swedish phrase for a spell of weather so fiendishly cold it decimates the year’s crops, and as such is the first Civilistjävel! with anything like context. Naturally, the album is somewhat cold although there are uncharacteristically rough-hewn elements to these tracks that speak to those “iron nights” of agricultural ruination. This industrial crunchiness was hinted at by Generalstrejk, a composite of live performances released in 2020 that raised the bar somewhat as far as the established Civilistjävel! sound goes. Although no stranger to ambient minimalism and drone, his three untitled albums dealt more commonly in what most would probably label as dub techno; for all the nebulous mystery that blurs the edges, there’s a Scandinavian efficiency to the bumps, clicks and cuts that propels the core of the “archival” tracks, even if they can often be hard to put a pin in.

There is a lopsided battle of the elements taking place throughout Järnnätter, with the crisp and haunting beauty of the still Nordic night losing out against an onslaught of viciously brittle icy shards – although, of course, it is an ouroboric tangle. Tracks like B1 and B2 resound with industrial clatter, each pulse emitting metallic reverberations as unique as the crystals they represent and as fragile as the keenest knife edge. If the primal gnaws and slashes of A1 announce a rare environmental savagery from the highest clouds, B4 presents the inevitable endgame. The album’s closing track marches the land with mechanical efficiency and frightening persistence, its path a hopeless mush of collapsed stems and frostbitten leaves, a long way from the glistening descent of flakes that peppers the A-side.

The album relies largely on sparse globs and throbs to propel it, all frozen to absolute zero and close to shattering point. There are faint auroras too, flicking and whispering wraith-like beneath, occasionally swelling to wrap around the edges or ghost up in between but never voluminous enough to raise the boreal shards that descend with increasing weight and intensity as each untitled track progresses. There are moments of prettiness but they’re marked by treachery – shorter tracks like B3 act like sirens, alerting you to the danger of prolonged exposure, and A2 grows gradually to reflect a stunning sky back onto itself in a mirror of suffocating ice. This is a time-lapse soundtrack to an unstoppable swarm of ice, the jagged crystals blackening everything in their wake even as they gleam with spectral beauty.