Mirage: “an unrealistic hope or wish that cannot be achieved”
In advance of the release of their International Debut album, ‘Empty House’, on 19th of February, Norwegian indie four-piece, Snøskred, have just dropped single, ‘Mirage’ the third track to be lifted from their much anticipated LP.
“Are all the memories here to stay, Can I just store them, or will they slip away?”
” ‘Mirage’ is about things that seem difficult to understand and explain, but which have a clear internal logic,” explains vocalist and guitarist, Karl Klaseie. “The track was recorded last summer during the hottest day of the year, in a studio without much air conditioning, but with a gigantic window through which the sun was blazing. It’s possible that left its mark on the track.”
On one hand ‘Mirage’ feels ‘random’ – it has an overwhelming sense of having been created via the freeform methodologies so successfully used by such jazz enthusiasts as Mark Hollis, or those 70s Kraut experimentalists, Can. It is a like a series of musical layers – a melding of several sketches, spliced and diced, that have been very haphazardly “mille-feuilled”.
On the on the other hand, there is an underlying sense of of cohesion, albeit one that was arrived at by chance.
“Your skin feels just like new, but the scars though, always tell the truth”
Each individual sketch has its own personality – the dark beat driven intro with is sense of anticipation, the OMD vibing synth beats (speed it up a bit and you’re in Enola Gay territory), the infectious if slightly schizoid slide riffs of Lars Ove Fossheim through which Klaseie adds barely there scratches of guitar. Muddled through that sonic cocktail are the intermittent mini-sermons from the Hammond and the varied percussive interpretations from thumping bass drum to the continuous soft-chick high hat that slowly builds into something more defined and insistent.
Guitarist Lars Ove Fossheim elaborates, “The song evolved with the help of minimalist drum machines from 1982, a gospel-like Hammond organ, a bass player in a trance, a super-close Telecaster and overdubs slide guitars”. (Makes note to ask what had bassist Hvidsten Berger in a trance?)
Bit by bit the layers are built upwards from Martin Hvidsten Berger’s continuous bass loops bubbling into the continuum and beyond, that act as the foundation for the musical stack. Yet despite the many and varied layers, it is a track full of spaces – big, small, wide, deep – they are omnipresent throughout, adding to its expansiveness.
“Is there someone looking out for us? The same way every shepherd looks out for all his sheep, But there’s no-one, looking out for me”
‘Mirage’ has a very ‘Albatross’ vibe, comprising a slow moving, heavy atmosphere full of lifeless heat intermittently relieved by washes of shimmering slide. It is the clever combination of these divergent elements that creates the perfect musical mirage. Lyrically, it is searingly honest, but the trademark lazy-like dreamy quality of Karl Klaseie’s vocal lessens the sting somewhat.
The song ends with a series of tightly coiled guitar riffs and random bursts of spitfire drumming (much to my delight), the only constant still being the bubbling thrum of the bass. However, a jigsaw of many parts, it warrants several repeat plays if only to recognise and do justice to, the various sketches and their respective performers.
A collection of musical oddments, thrown together at will, the many elements of ‘Mirage’ somehow cohese to paint a musical picture that was only ever just a blurred figment of someone’s imagination.
Snøskred have proved that by leaving the creative door open when they entered the rehearsal room, they allowed themselves the space to develop a more cinematic, unique and potent sound than had hitherto been present in their songs. Which bodes well for their much anticipated album, ‘Empty House’ due out on 19th, the vinyl ed of which I want parked on my turntable asap, and which I envisage shall remain there, for some time to come.
Watch the phantasmagorical video for ‘Mirage’ made by film-maker friend of the band, Eirik Havnes.