Updated: Nov 30, 2021
Sim Card Hølder, described as ‘the hybrid child of Ian Bruner, Drone Operatør and Gajek'', is a group that probably don’t want to be defined. Borrowing from a number of genres ranging from free jazz, ambient music and impressionism, this album is filled with abstract forms and hard-to-determine sounds that have a ‘listen now, ask later’ sort of approach. Moving around from simple blocks of sound (as in Sleepparalysis) to fast and almost deranged bebop (Dronegød) and passé sounding impressionism, they seem more concerned with the general feel created than the details themselves.
Often the details are hidden anyway. Timbres are combined and distorted, making them difficult to identify in the tangled web of sound that’s created. TVdream is a nice example, with the rising mass of sound in the foreground seemingly combining saxophones, electronics and a whole load of mechanistic, industrial timbres as they seethe and rise together. ASEGMENTØFSKY mashes all its ideas up and puts them through some sort of vocoder, so you get remnants of recognisable sound swirling about. It’s almost like viewing it from underwater. You can see the shapes and the patterns they make, but the surface is too impenetrable to make out anything clearly.
It’s hard to find any sense of structure either. Pieces seem more than happy enough to explore their own sound world without having to worry about the listener’s patience or stamina while they’re at it. The mixture of free rhythm and musiqe concrete influences, (including creaks, far-off bangs and even the barking of a dog) help add to the disorientation of it all. However, despite the amount of apparent randomness, it never feels pointless or for the sake of being weird. With all the avant-garde, classical, jazz and minimalist ideas, there’s a lot going on, but it all has a purpose, contributing to this overarching atmosphere that’s somehow maintained until the end. The only problem is figuring out what it all means. A lot of mixed messages are given off, from the 'noise for the sake of noise' blasts in Sleepparalysis to the calm piano interludes that keep recurring, leaving us not entirely sure how to respond.
At times the message seems one of alienation, with the use of electronics in Icaruscomplex_ really milking the sure and almost psychotic determinism of the machinery. It feels as if the music is indifferent to the listener at times. The best way to describe it overall is probably a vague sense of dread, but even that doesn’t cover all the variety found throughout. It also doesn't account for moments of softness and sentimentality, such as the piano breaks in pieces like fallingasleepwiththedrones and Alone_, which give the LP a sense of direction, acting almost as moments of enlightenment and rest after the stormy journeys that most of the other tracks offer. It’s these pieces where a heart can be found that seems to warm to the listener, offering more accessible and soothing tones and harmonies unlike the overblown saxophones and eerie string harmonics of other tracks.
This has a lot of avant-garde and non-listener friendly ideas that will probably get in the way of some people’s enjoyment, but in the end, they do put atmosphere and flow first above anything else. Although it’ll provide a grating listen for some, it’s definitely something for those who don’t mind sitting and waiting for an album to take you, immersing yourself in its sound. You’d have to be patient, just as its creators were patient in its construction. If you always know what you want to feel from music, then I wouldn’t recommend it, but for the right listener, this could be something special.