SKARE - SOLSTICE CITY - Glacial Movements Records - 2009

First Review

The Per Ahlund who gets credit on this CD for 'sounds & editing', I must assume is the same as Diskrepant? It seems unlikely that two guys of the same name make similar kind of music, but of course you never know. Partly of course the problem lies in the fact there is no press info. Skare is a trio. Besides Ahlund there is Mathias Josefson, also sounds & editing and Frederik Olofsson on videos & live visuals, which aren't enclosed on this CD. Two long pieces and a short opening track. Like Diskrepant, Skare plays dark drone music of a highly atmospherical kind, but are even less noisy. Especially in the two long pieces sounds seem to be dropping down to a stale cold wind - perhaps in honor of the label name, but there is this chilly polar wind blowing around, with some carefully placed field recordings which occasionally arise from the mix. 'Through Wind And Broken Ice' and 'The Snow Angel Factory' are the titles of these pieces, and a winter landscape is sported on the cover - yes, we get the idea. Despite naming all things obvious here, its also quite a nice release of atmospheric music, which doesn't necessarily do anything beyond the ordinary, but it makes some great nocturnal scary listening session. (FdW)


Second Review

There is something very special happening in Scandinavian music lately..most of the great experimental and marginal music is coming from that area. Where once the Nordic countries failed abyssmally at conquering the international pop and indie scenes, they have more than compensated for in the leftfield electronica industry. Amongst a crop on new talent emerging from the area are Skare, who - despite the unfortunate nomenclature turn in an impressive debut for Glacial Movements in the form of Solstice City. In a continuation of the label’s obsessive remit of all things icy and stark, Skare’s Mathias Josefson, Frederik Olofsson, and Per Ĺhlund exhibit a work of profoundly elegant ambience that rivals the work of Lull and Sleep Research Facility, and maybe even Lustmord for sheer depth and dark, engulfing beauty. One short (To The Other Shore), and a duo of long form pieces (Through Wind and Broken Ice, and The Snow Angel Factory) bring the collection to around 60 minutes of sheer deep listening bliss. Expect dark and haunting presences with protracted sequences of stark, shimmering atmospherics, tracing billowing lines through glassy tones. Occasionally these atmospherics are refracted through a backdrop of field recording elements, deeply abstracted crackles and obscure shapes that reinforce the sense of isolation and solitude in the midst of an Arctic winter. In rare moments, the filtered remnants of a piano break through, like sunlight emerging from dark clouds, giving a sense of hope and humanity..absolutely sublime. Skare’s atmospherics are not unique, but they are exquisitely executed and faultless, and housed in a beautifully designed cover, with photography courtesy of Bjarne Riesto, this is another minimalist dark ambient masterpiece from Glacial Movements. BGN


Third Review

Welcome to Skare with some textbook glacial ambience courtesy of the rather useful Glacial Movements label. I like a bit of this I do. The entire label's output is based around cold dark sounding glacial ambience which weirdly makes you feel a bit chilly while it's on. I might have to crank the fire up! Skare are obsessed by the circulation of snow, water and ice so I guess that fits into the whole cold thing nicely. The 1st couple of tracks are very much glacial ambience by numbers. If you like ambient music that's very isolationist and windy sounding then that's what you're getting. The last track (all 26 minutes of it) builds up with crackles and fizzes and some nice tones and eerie samples which separate this from the usual ambient droney sods. It's good. The last track in particular is making me feel well spaced out. Could be the 11 hour shift I've just done though. 'Solstice City' is CD only and it should come with a free penguin. Maybe I'll get a pack from the shops on the way back!


Fourth Review

La Glacial Movements prosegue il proprio discorso sull'ambient isolazionista, dando alle stampe il lavoro d'esordio degli scandinavi Skare. Dietro questo nome si nascondono personaggi giŕ noti nel settore industrial, ad iniziare da Mathias Josefson (meglio conosciuto per il suo progetto Moljebka Pvlse), oltre a Per Ĺhlund (giŕ in Diskrepant) e Fredrik Olofsson (che si occupa anche dell'aspetto visivo, fondamentale per questo tipo di suoni). Strutturato a mo' di concept su un intro e due lunghissime tracce, l'album ci trasporta verso territori sconosciuti, innescando un viaggio interiore che trova il suo compimento tra i ghiacci, protagonisti di un panorama irreale, distante dalla concretezza umana e capace di produrre immagini inaspettate. Tutto il lavoro č sviluppato utilizzando registrazioni sul campo rielaborate in studio, ma anche strumenti trattati: un connubio tra rumori e note (il piano emerge timidamente in qualche punto) che in alcuni passaggi rende bene la sensazione di mistero e candore. Le atmosfere calme fanno da commento ad un paesaggio immobile ed eterno, dove il vento č mimato dal lento scorrere dei suoni. Il compimento perfetto di "Solstice City" va ricercato nell'accostamento ad immagini correlate, tanto che viene spontaneo pensarlo come colonna sonora ideale per documentari a tema e video-installazioni. L'opera funziona bene anche senza il commento visivo, sebbene in alcuni momenti, soprattutto nella terza traccia, piů statica e rumorosa, le atmosfere fatichino a prendere forma, 'congelandosi' in narcisistici suoni di maniera. Come al solito la label confeziona il CD in un bel digipak, arricchito da un'ottima foto di copertina e colori ovviamente ipotermici. Chi ama l'ambient glaciale non puň sottrarsi all'acquisto.

Michele Viali


Fifth Review


Sixth Review

“Solstice City” is the debut release by the Swedish duo of Mathias Josefson and Per Ahlund as atmospheric ambient project Skare.  The concept behind the album is that it follows a journey from the city to the point where it meets nature.  Starting with the short prelude of “To the Other Shore” where the journey begins by boarding a ship to a distant yet unknown destination, the duo use field recordings, found sounds and treated instruments to bring an element of realism and intimacy to their recordings, heightening the experience.  The 21 minute “Through Wind and Broken Ice” depicts the long slow journey through a frozen wasteland, accurately portraying the unforgiving windswept landscape and the difficult conditions it can bring.  The mood of the music slowly changes as the track progresses, shifting from gentle melodic ambience through darker more foreboding interludes.  Finally, we reach “The Snow Angel Factory” which is our intended destination, a place deep in the frozen landscape where angels are made.  Again illustrating a combination of a frozen windswept landscape and mixed modes of travel, the duo illustrate the distance and effort taken to reach their mythical destination whilst also bringing a sense beauty and wonderment for their surroundings.  In one respect it is unforgiving and harsh but in others it is beautiful and magical, as is the angel factory when it is finally revealed in its ethereal beauty.  Then, just as it is glowing resplendent in the snow covered glacial ice, the mood darkens to close on a darkly ominous and sinister tone followed by gently reflective piano backed with the voices of a family and running water. Glacial Movements again keep a watchful eye on quality and offer another outstanding album of intensely emotive ambience. (PL:8)PL


Seventh Review

Comme cela avait été le cas sur le Like A Slow River de Lull, ou le Time Frost de Rapoon, la glace en tant que matičre mobile et liquide, modulaire et organique, vivante presque constitue le cśur de ce nouvel épisode de la saga polaire menée par Alessandro Tedeschi et son label Glacial Movements. Nouveaux venus dans cette expédition sensorielle conduite au cśur de l'ambient-music la plus isolationniste, le trio suédois Skare, réunissant experts audios (Mathias Josefson et Per Ahlund) et spécialiste des traitements de l'image (Fredrik Olofsson) constitue sans nulle doute un équipage parfaitement rôdé aux rudes conditions climatiques de rigueur. Les deux premičres pičces, "To the other shore" et " Through wind and broken ice", constituent d'ailleurs un état des lieux fascinant de cette pérégrination sonore ardue et fantasque dans laquelle le trio avance ŕ pas comptés. Profondeur et concrétion sonore cryogénique s'installent avec un sens circulatoire qui évoque la lente pénétration de ces espaces froids et imposants, dans une mise en son ambiante minimaliste et oppressante. Mais la troisičme et derničre pičce, "The snow angel factory", introduit un long et plus surprenant épilogue. Une certaine apesanteur semble s'installer, rapidement suivie de textures plus douces, plus cristallines, dans lesquelles se glissent des bribes de mots, puis des notes de piano égrenées. Un havre de béatitude semble atteint par le trio d'explorateurs. Un point central et inconnu, qualifié par eux-męmes d'"usines d'anges". Une zone de paix, śil d'un cyclone boréal qui nous fixe désormais de sa distance contemplative et sereine.


Eight Review

Recorded in Stockholm, Sweden in 2006, Solstice City, Skare's contribution to the Glacial Movements catalogue, pursues a clearly-delineated narrative line in its three tracks. Working with field recordings, found sounds, and treated instruments, Mathias Josefson, Per Ĺhlund, and Fredrik Olofsson—the first two credited with sounds and editing, the latter videos and live visuals—uphold the label's commitment to the “frozen ambient” genre by fashioning an imaginary journey that finds a traveler leaving behind the safe cocoon of the man-made city for uncharted territories. The three-minute opener, “To The Other Shore,” is dwarfed by the twenty-minute-plus durations of the other tracks but that's by design since it's an overture that sets the stage for the explorations to come. Setting the scene, Skare mixes sounds of people talking with crystalline shimmer and low-pitched rumble, and we even hear the voice of our protagonist clearly seeking direction as he travels by ship from a foreign shore to parts unknown. Natural sounds such as footsteps trudging through the snow and sea gulls are audible during the opening section of “Through Wind And Broken Ice” but it's not long before the adventurer finds himself in a cavernous zone where freezing winds and gaseous vapours dominate. Just when one starts to think that perhaps the explorer may have vanished so far into this netherworld that he won't be able to return, a few tinkles of piano appear and then bird chirps and the hum of a distant car, suggesting that he's managed to rejoin civilization after all. Having survived that episode, he carries on once more, moving slowly through the blinding haze of a whiteout until he reaches “The Snow Angel Factory.” The engine of a distant plane is heard amidst a simmering stream of crackle, after which the material grows increasingly industrial in character (intercom voices, the locomotive churn of factory equipment) until, like the middle track, it too grows progressively more ghostly, even though augmented by subtle piano colourations. Interestingly, the piece comes to an end in a predominantly acoustic manner with piano, subtly augmented by field voices and textures, at the forefront. Skare deserves credit for opening up the prototypically isolationist “frozen ambient” genre by bringing so many natural and field recording sounds into Solstice City 's mix; doing so humanizes a style that can sometimes seem inhuman in its ice-cold barrenness and as a result difficult to, ahem, warm to.


Nineth Review

Skare č il progetto di Mathias Josefson (Moljebka Pvlse, che ha pubblicato su un’infinita di etichette dark ambient) e Per Ĺhlund (Diskrepant, progetto sempre di area ambient/noise, qualcuno lo ricorderŕ su Fin De Sičcle Media). A loro si aggiunge Fredrik Olofsson alla parte visiva.
Solstice City esce per Glacial Movements, dunque chi ha familiaritŕ con l’etichetta (in catalogo ci sono Lull e Rapoon) sa giŕ che si troverŕ di fronte alla descrizione sonora di un percorso lungo paesaggi innevati. In questo caso, il gruppo suddivide il disco in tre tracce: la prima rappresenta una sorta di partenza (con delle voci a significare ancora la presenza umana), la seconda – all’inizio eterea e in certo modo rasserenante, costituita da drone profondissimi e suoni manipolati e dilatati che bilanciano l’oscuritŕ dei primi – costituisce il viaggio vero e proprio in un mondo incontaminato, la terza l’arrivo a un’immaginaria “fabbrica di angeli di neve” (i field recordings passano in primo piano, con rumori di passi, macchinari, voci da un altoparlante, poi accenni impercettibili di melodia e di nuovo la profonditŕ del drone, con un finale piů dissonante del solito, grazie anche a uno scarno pianoforte a metŕ tra il dolce e l’inquietante).
Un nuovo quadro essenziale e bianchissimo nella collezione di Glacial Movements: al solito avrŕ massimo piacere chi saprŕ e soprattutto vorrŕ concentrarsi e cogliere tutte le impercettibili variazioni, il che significa che stiamo comunque parlando di un cd per appassionati del genere.

Fabrizio Garau - AUDIODROME

Tenth Review

Superfly (April/May 2009)

Eleventh Review

ROCKAROLLA issue nr.20

Twelve Review

Skare are a sound collaboration by Mathias Josefson and Per Ĺhlund with visuals performed by Fredrik Olofsson. In that the visuals are a ‘band member’ is no real surprise given the content of stark ambient scapes incorporating field recordings, abstracted instruments, found sound and electronic manipulations. Visuals would both aid Sakre both as a descriptive device as well as captivate the eye of the viewer while the long treatments are in play. The album itself is a narrative of an imagined journey into unknown territory, a movement beyond the city into nature described by a sense of ‘frozen ambience’.

Segmented in three parts Solstice City begins with the short To the other shore which gently builds an imminent brooding atmosphere before introducing field recordings of city and departure to build the context for the journey beyond. The second track, Through Wind and Broken Ice, continues the journey with the insistent frozen footfall and dark undertones, broken by bird into a more intricate description of the landscape and passage through tundra using the melancholic and unfamiliar nature of the altered tonal expectations to conjure up ice winds in frozen tundra. With the arrival of piano sketches towards the end of this long track arrives the movement into a constructed environment setting the scene for track three, The Snow Angel Factory.
Here glistening tones, bristle with static and mechanistic industrial pristine sounds. Intercom moments and the hum and pulse of imagined machinery build a sonic impression which moves through phases of differing intensity.

Overall Solstice City is an accomplished take on the aspects of a bleak ambient landscape often referred to as ‘dark’
or industrial or here as frozen or glacial ambient as per the focus of the label. While the sound is constructed as ‘uninviting’ it is purposefully so. Best listened to through headphones and without the demand for music as a form of diversion.


Cyclic Defrost Magazine

Thirteenth Review

(July 2009) Skare is the communion between Fredrik Olofsson, Mathias Josefson (aka Moljebka Pvlse), and Per Ĺhlund (aka Diskrepant), who wield field recordings, found sounds, and treated instruments to discharge the Italian label's commission to variously soundtrack quasi-static sub-zero atmospheres. This trio are evidently fixated by the sound of cycles of water-snow-ice, and the sonification of light reflecting from snow and its prismatic filtration through ice. Solstice City, Skare's contribution to the evolving Glacial Movements iceworks, in fact pursues an audibly programmatic narrative, presenting a narrative of an imaginary journey through a protean landscape at the nature-civilization interface, involving a traveler embarking on a ship on a distant shore to an unknown destination.

Opener, "To The Other Shore," is a scene-setting prelude to the extended durations of two succeeding tracks/tracts, a backdrop of ambient babble, crystalline shimmer and low-pitched rumble against which is heard the protagonist, seeking directions. Captured naturalia - footsteps in the snow, seagull cries - bespeckle the beginnings of "Through Wind And Broken Ice" presaging a pall of permafrost. Drawn out dronings effectively depict a long slow journey through a frozen expanse, suggesting the bleak and the blasted with odd insertions of melodicism to hint at relief. The prevailing chthonic ambience is eventually dispelled with infusions of piano-tinkle, bird-chirp and remote auto-hum, hinting at civilization refound. Moving ponderously through a haze of whiteout, "The Snow Angel Factory" is reached. A distant plane is heard amidst the crackle and hum, after which ethereal drift cedes to industrial grit, musical material growing spectral, before ending swimming in a pool of piano and dissolved voices.

An hour of frozen flotation-tank deep listening, then, for those who still crave such fare. It's not that there is nothing of interest here, but that for all Skare's crafted atmospherics and immaculate conceptualisation, Solstice City barely distinguishes itself from a group of archetypally isolationist works of "frozen ambient." It creeps around in zones already navigated initially by Lull (his Cold Summer was way back 1994!) and lately by Sleep Research Facility (three albums in this vein, notably Deep Frieze, between 2001-2004) - all slo-mo drone depths and dark engulfings; difficult to avoid invoking the presiding spirit of Thomas Köner, whose twenty-year old Nunatak Gongamur provided the arctic ethnography blueprint for these chilly soundscapes with minimal harmonic presence, and if you're suffering the dearth of recent Köner work, you could do worse than Solstice City. - By Alan Lockett, Contributing Editor


Fourteenth Review

Skare are made up of Mathias Josefson (of Moljebka Pulse and Isoramara), Fredrik Olofsson and Per Ahlund. A primary motivation of Solstice City is their strong interest with water, snow and ice.  Aspects of light and liquidity, its manifestation to each other and the ever-present motion of the two are displayed from beginning to end.  This is their debut cd on Glacial Movements Records. 
“To The Other Side” is a sublime minimal ambient piece. Effects are vibrating and pulsing, distant voices are heard, we become aware that we are going on a trip.  This is the first step of a journey; we are leaving for another place.
“Through Wind and Broken Ice”, is a blast of glacial saturation of sounds.  We hear field recordings of crunchy packed snow.  A melancholy mood accentuates the track.  Not in a depressive way, but more of an acceptance of one’s circumstances.  A soft transition leads us to a short piano piece being played.  The sounds of snow swirling and encompassing us, a snowstorm interpreted through music perhaps?  Airplanes fly overhead (again the theme of a journey pervades).  Tumultuous pitches buzzing and ebbing.  Our piano returns again to acquiesce into the sounds of flowing water and nature.
“The Snow Angel Factory”, takes us into icy, metallic sounds reverberating around us.  Loops of voices, not being able to make out what is being said.  Sounds rush through us and around.  The equivalent of this is being caught in a torrent of white noise.  It all slides into a glacial drone is the only way I’m able to describe it.  Howling tones give a celestial aura, almost like an aurora borealis made into music.  The final movement of the piece is foreboding, as was “Through Wind and Broken Ice” before hand.  This soon transitions into a jazz-like piano improvisation.  Which, in theory, may seem odd, but it fits in nicely.
During all the compositions, a few themes unite each piece: the coldness and iciness of the atmosphere, the idea of a passage from one place to another, and the ability to translate this all through music.  Ambient and electronic music may be a by-product of the applications that are used.  That can sometimes give us cold music with out any soul to it.  With Skare that is not the case, throughout you can feel the atmospheres, whether they are natural or manmade.  That there are human emotions (and human beings) intricately involved in its creation are felt straight through.  The electronics they use is merely a tool to express that.  Overall their ministrations culminate into a lush, spiritual, and majestic experience.


Fifthenth Review

On the flipside, the trio operating as Skare (scare?) bring back isolationism with a vengeance, all dark ambient motifs aside. Like Aquadorsa, they have an uncanny knack for disorienting expectations thanks to a clever use of found sound, dialogue, glitchy crackle and a flair for environmental realism that also manages to dash cliché to the (frozen) earth. Solstice City, despite the barren, windswept, icy tundra of its cover, doesn’t attempt to ape the defrosted aural palates of Mssrs. Koner, Biosphere, or the Kubrick-desolate fantasies of the Canadian Cyclic Law crew. Rather, the pointillistic sounds, resonant with the crunching of geomorphic permafrost underfoot, twinkling and falling to earth in a light if foreboding arctic mist, attain their strong footing in your consciousness precisely because of their stark flavors. The 20-minute “Through Wind and Broken Ice” illustrates those two phenomena perfectly, using their obvious identifiers to expound upon landscapes comprised of snap, pop, the bleating of distant, lonely fowl, and air whipping through furrows of moist oxygen. Even better is the near half-hour “The Snow Angel Factory”: low-key atmospherics sit amid wailing cries from the outer horizon, where the props of a high-altitude plane becomes the lone humanoid interruptor piercing the “silence”, where a solipsist air develops between prickly decays of synth fuzz and tone shudder, resulting in regions fairly bristling with abject tension. The idea of simple “field recordings” dappled across digitized soundscapes is turned inside out here: the melding of the corporeal and incorporeal is near epic in its scope, and when the surroundings breach outright, multiple noises, one becomes uncertain where the studio ends and the reality of these febrile environs begins. Pretty awesome.


Sixtenth Review

Pětatřicetistupňová vedra, která nás přepadla koncem července, se každý rozhodl zdolat jinak. Někdo zmizel do hlubin přírody, jiný se naložil do vody nejbližšího bazénu či koupaliště a další se uzamkli uvnitř klimatizovaných místností. Asi už moje zaujetí hudbou dosahuje do nebezpečných končin, poněvadž jsem se rozhodl bojovat s horkem poslechem dvou nových desek italského vydavatelství Glacial Movements. První na řadu přišel projekt Skare, který vede ostřílený mazák Mathias Josefson z Moljebka Pvlse. Debut SOLSTICE CITY (Glacial Movements, 2009, 50:32) je inspirován nekonečným oběhem vody. Od proměny plynu ke kapalnému stavu, mrznutí a vypařování až ke sněhu a pevnému ledu. První album je svérázným putováním skrze neustále se měnící se krajinu, kde se civilizace střetává s přírodním živlem. Hlukový, velejemně kytarový ambient (Josefson) se střetává tichými sonickými skřípoty a řídkými melodickými momenty. Po úvodním vhledu do tématu nás čekají dvě více než dvacet minut dlouhé tracky, které jsou spíše než minimalistickou ukolébací opakovačkou sonickým, neustále se měnícím poryvem větru. A protože jsme na vydavatelství Glacial Movement, nakonec dojde i na ono arktické splývání obzoru. I přes velmi volné vedení desky máme nakonec co do činění se soustředěnými padesáti minutami tiché hudby. - Zelinka Pavel -


Eightenth Review

An ambient journey through a frozen surrealist landscape.
Releasing their debut album on isolationist ambient label Glacial Movements, Swedish trio Skare provides an ambient journey through a frozen landscape that's somewhere between arctic shelf and snow blindness-induced hallucination. The brief opening track "To the Other Shore" sets the stage with the album's most literal offering as half-heard found sound and harbor conversation emerges from icy drones; in the foreground, a man asks in heavily accented English if he can charter "a boat to the other place." That journey takes place, as the second track's title suggests, "Through Wind and Broken Ice," with crystalline drones interrupted occasionally by deep cracking sounds like ice floes breaking up or glaciers shearing off; the wind represents itself with airy washes of tone that feel somehow both weighty and insubstantial. The voyage culminates with "The Snow Angel Factory," which is as whimsical as its title suggests, or at least as whimsical as possible within the strict confines of glacial ambient purism. Rumbling swirling loops evoke the lumbering activity of ice-molded factory equipment, with muffled conversation revealing unexpected activity in a vast frozen expanse. Whether the appearance of some surrealist factory concern in this midst of arctic emptiness is meant to be a literal end to the aural expedition is unclear; it could very well also be the hallucinations brought on by fatal hypothermia. In either case, Solstice City sees Skare leading listeners on an unforgettable journey to places seldom visited, and for fans of minimalist ambient music it's a trip worth taking.