SULT + MARHAUG – Harpoon

Conradsound / Pica Disk

The constitution (or lack thereof, according to individual sensibilities) of Harpoon was ultimately decided by Lasse Marhaug, who assembled and mixed about 35 minutes of clangorous improvisations by Sult (Guro Skumsnes Moe, Håvard Skaset, Jacob Felix Heule). It’s a noise album by all accounts; no trace of commonly intended consonance. The instruments explicate the harsh voice of their viscera, pretty much abused by the handlers in between smells of burnt metal and corroded wood. Within the ponderousness of the ferocious clangor the ear occasionally discerns elements to clutch at, if only for rare instants. Bent upper partials sounding like the cry of a wounded seagull; incessant rhythmic tapping reminding of hundreds of rapidly decaying typewriters; bass tones so deep that they’re felt in the chest. And so forth. One can find reasons to praise or merely persevere, but nobody is expected to relax. Unless…

Unless the “listen-to-the-whole-as-an-example-of-cosmic-wickedness” strategy is applied. Why differentiate and categorize? Is anybody really willing to split hairs as a blaring mass generated by “normal” tools spreads around? At this point in this reviewer’s life, it’s not necessary anymore. We just have to separate what we accept as acoustically plausible for our own health from what causes disdain or repulsion, and let it play forever if so needed. After hours spent with this LP, though, I still have a hard time in exactly spelling its true artistic value, even if the racket remains engrossing enough over the course of new auditions. The comparison to Organum – evoked in the liners – is valid on a level of superficial appearance, for David Jackman’s creations belong to another sphere of inner condition. However, Harpoon is neither a shallow record, nor a milestone; more a classic case of “it is what it is”, destined to positively stimulate certain human specimens while rubbing someone else the wrong way.

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