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act 237 · gjöll · sum of transformations · cd

tracklist:
1. natural anarchy
2. abandon all hope
3. the only true philosophical problem
4. tucking in for the collapse
5. dérive w/cut-throat mind
6. unity with the earthworms
7. at the hanging of the last of the career politicians

"all forms of direct action are practiced by nonhuman animals, albeit without communicative elements. nonhuman animals routinely and deliberately destroy walls and other structures erected by people; "steal" themselves and other animals away from human possession and refuse to accede to human authority, hegemony, or boundaries. birds, insects and other animals often do organize themselves to fulfill collective purposes by nonhierarchical and non-coercive means and thus offer models of alternatives to governments." (pattrice jones: natural anarchism in action)

on their third full length album this icelandic project continues its ideological struggle against men's arrogance and pretend predominance. wrathful but never nihilistic, gjölls lyrics appeal to those who still keep an open mind, a large amount of hope, and the ability to separate right from wrong.

musically, jóhann eiríksson and sigurður harðarson have expanded their previous album's harsh eruptions into powerful ambient noise hymns that are combined with a kind of post-krautrock feel. sum of transformations contrasts analogue guitar strokes with the digital iciness of dark and disturbing soundscapes.

an outstanding release, both calming and intensely enraged at the same time. not to be taken lightly.

discography 10.2k9:
way through zero. cd. ant-zen act177. 2006
ginnungagap (w./ pure, el gusano rojo). cd. duumvirat duum001. 2007
not to lead nor to follow. cd. ant-zen act207. 2007
animal ep. mp3 release. 77industry 77.31. 2009
sum of transformations. cd. ant-zen act237. 2009

gjöll webpages:
www.myspace.com/gjoellproduct8
www.virb.com/gjoell

reviews:

metal.de
vor zehn jahren tauchten auf dem indie-radar im großraum reykjavík eine ganze reihe bands von mm über gusgus bis sigur ròs - um nur die bekanntesten zu nennen - auf, die sich im laufe von nur wenigen jahren zu einem isländischen markenzeichen aus experimentierfreudigkeit, kollektivität und musikalischer offenheit verdichteten. in der journaille hagelte es daraufhin verweise auf naturmystik, heidnisches elfengeseier, nordisches neohippietum und ähnliche topoi. gjöll (der "lärmende" oder "brausende") mit ihren aufgeregten, unberechenbaren analog-digitalen versuchsanordnungen zwischen song und experiment passen da nicht so richtig ins bild. für den musikalischen ansatz der gruppe lassen sich zwar durchaus vergleiche zu ihren isländischen kollegen ziehen. doch gjöll gehen einen schritt weiter. man merkt dem album eine sehr bewusste, analytische arbeit an, ohne dabei den wunsch nach möglichst organischer atmosphäre zu vernachlässigen: ausladend arrangierte schichten wirken hier selten orchestral, klischeeüberbordende stilkrücken werden weitgehend vermieden, und der fokus liegt nie wirklich auf harmonischen elementen. stattdessen sind ihre kompositionen im rahmen einer charmanten low-fi-produktion spannende klangreisen mit atmosphärischen brüchen, zwischen den polen kälte und pathos, zwischen sterilem soundprocessing und kantigen beats, die zum teil richtig aggressiven drive entwickeln können. von angedeuteten melodieführungen bis hin zur garstigen verzerrung erscheint ihr gesamtes klangrepertoire immer unheimlich distinguiert-elegant; die konsequenz, mit der sie ihre fiebrige wall of sound trotz aller distanziertheit immer wieder so ätherisch, ja prunkvoll schmachten lassen, ist bestechend. "sum of transformations" ist - wenn man es so will - eine postrockplatte, die aufgrund ihrer wunderbaren klanglichen homogenität und ausladend-freien strukturen den errungenschaften dieser stilart aber doch eine spannende neue facette hinzufügen kann. rock steht hier hinten an bzw. die orientierung an seinen dramatischen kniffen. als hörer versucht man, den vergrabenen harmonischen elementen immer näher zu kommen, sich immer weitere fetzen zusammenzureimen. das fehlen jeder eingängigkeit erzeugt dabei einen ganz eigenen reiz. um gefallen an diesem longplayer zu finden, das sei noch erwähnt, sollte man ein unerschütterliches faible für wiederholung, ereignisarmut oder auch gleichförmigkeit mitbringen. man muss zuhören können, um die aufgeraute virtuosität zu verstehen, die vorzügliche klangarchitektur zu erfassen. in den besten momenten findet man dann dabei genauso viel schönheit in den lärmigen zutaten wie in den sorgsam platzierten melodiefragmenten. (conni)

a review in russian language can be found on the machinist's website:
www.machinistmusic.net

filth forge
ant-zen delivers the third full-length release of gjöll, the icelandic duo that has already raised a certain interest with its haunting and icy music. "sum of transformations" sports a greyish artwork, with desolated pictures of rocks and frozen waterfalls, a perfect visual counterpart to the moody and alien sound of the seven tracks. you will find gjöll filed under dark ambient, industrial or whatever, but what you hear on the cd is another story, it's pure vibrations, drones and glaciers' echoes, sometimes enriched by a distant, eerie voice repeating formulas in the language of vikings, and the mutated strings of an acoustic guitar. certain passages, especially in initial "natural anarchy" and "abandon all hope" are not too far away from the most dissonant experiments of neu! (not by chance kraut rock is quoted as an influence), whereas the purely atmospheric parts can't be compared to any dark ambient, there's no dark melody or soundscape, just pure sound rotating endlessly, like the gigantic movement of a galaxy. gjöll's music is colder and more alien than anything you can think of, it's hypnotic and disquieting at the same time, with an interesting blend of electronics, noise and treated instruments, conjuring some genuinely alien scenario. recommended for a headphone listening in an evening of total misanthropy. (simon v.)

gothtronic
a surprising release by the icelandic gjöll. "sum of transformations" is their third album, also the third for ant-zen and is - justified by its title - quite the musical transformation. with debut "way through zero" and follow-up "not to lead nor to follow" being static sound collections, "sum of transformations" is a collection of soundwaves, rather composed for background music then to shock the listener. and, they manage to do quite well. the sound on this album is remarkably threatening, despite the first impression that these are quiet, slow songs with no real rhythms included. songs like opener "natural anarchy", "the only true philosophical problem" and most of all the wonderful "abandon all hope" appear to be monotone layers all based on the same tones, but after two or three times it's clear these songs actually have more to offer. the gently fading from the left- into right channel on your headphones on "tucking in for the collapse", for example, makes nine minutes seem more like three. and isn't that an example of a song that manages to really grab your attention? "dérive" was also included on the maschinenfest-sampler earlier this year, in a somewhat shorter version however. the first six minutes are a slow, warm up for the last minutes that are somewhat building up pressure which is completed by the spheric "unity with the earthworms". the last minutes of that song show that old gjöll once more and somehow manages to put a really good shift to the last song on the album. "at the hanging of the last career politicians" is not only a good title, but also the perfect closer which will leave you impressed. with seven songs in an hour it's not an album that's easy to get into, but definitely worth it. (eelco)

connexion bizarre
this is the third full-length album from this icelandic two-men band, and unlike their previous opuses, which were more industrial/power electronics/tribal percussions-oriented, this record more fits into the dark ambient/ambient noise genres, tough it also holds some meditative guitar sounds which generate a kind of post-rock/krautrock feeling, which is pretty original in this music style, but sounds perfectly coherent here. their music still contains vocals, but they're less screamed and distorted than before, more in a spoken words style. as the first track's title suggests, gjöll's leitmotiv is natural anarchism. they advocate the defense of the natural world and animals' rights against mankind's threat and supremacy, and recommend listeners to draw inspiration from animals' social structures and ways of living. dark without being too pessimistic, their lyrics speak to each one of us who deplores the way the world turns and believes things can still be improved. the ephemeral and cyclical nature of life "unity with the earthworms") and the insignificance of the human beings, who see themselves as almighty, compared to the majesty of the natural world ("at the hanging of the last of the career politician") are also subjects often evoked here. besides, the atmospheres gjöll create through their music have the same duality: on one hand they have the typical coldness of the dark ambient genre, those mournful climates and oppressive soundscapes, and on the other hand, these guitar parts which enlighten and warm up the whole thing from time to time. this record is kind of a u.f.o. into this scene and into the ant-zen catalogue, and it truly deserves some interest. iceland obviously holds some unique musical talents. (olivier noel)

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