Helge Sten Boxes Up Screes, Statics, Scrawls, and Drones

It's not music, it's an audio virus. Helge Sten, known solo as Deathprod and grouped as Supersilent, has spent over 13 years stripping bare his Norwegian homeland sound: carried over winter darkness, twisted with post–Tony Conrad violin scree, laid bare with glacial sense of time. His four-CD Deathprod box sluggishly leaks isolationist art into pure texture.

On Imaginary Songs for Tristan da Cunha, the patina comes from violin and woodland sounds transferred to wax cylinder. On Treetop Drive, snapshots of static and decay—"Drive 1" 's string section, "Drive 2" 's foghorn and organ—shift into scrawls of noise. Reference Frequencies loses early attempts at brazen minimalism to flat treatment; only '97's "Dora 3" grows into the aural borealis defining Sten's later work.

The crystalline brooding of Morals and Dogma, the set's newest disc, references La Monte Young's overtones, loud quiet-scapes, and stubborn slowness. Hearing its misted outlines of distant work and drone—maybe human, maybe automated—has all the creepiness of realizing you're a voyeur among the secret lives of objects.

 
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