Oljud is not a word that translates directly into English, but it can be used to refer to a negative or discomforting noise; appropriately enough, it is also the title of the new EP from Malvost, a one-man operation who is known only as ‘W’ and the follows on from April’s release, Återutgivningen. Setting the atmosphere to ten from the outset with some off-key, unnerving, freestyle whistling over a steadily building, molasses-thick drone, Malvost brings forth the opening track ‘Lamentations from the Menhir’. The whistling is soon replaced by disembodied, harsh, otherworldly vocal tones while the piece builds, growing ever more claustrophobic and oppressive in its development.
‘Kiasma’ is a genuinely unsettling experience that really gets under your skin – an uneasy mix of distant screams and unearthly, mournful growls from the depths of despair. The vocal noises are accompanied by a nagging, persistent drone that builds the feeling of horror lying in wait around the corner, ready to pounce. It never really appears, but lets you know that it remains, unseen, in the shadows, following you relentlessly.
W has continued with Malvost’s sound across the EP; a heady mix of harsh noise, drone, blackened shoegaze, with spoken word sections and by turn, excoriating death/black metal vocals. Common themes running through the pieces are depression, isolation, global warming and the world in crisis generally, which on the face of it at least, might not seem the most inviting of subject matter, but the whole experience is captivating and immersive. Given the challenges with making this kind of music – drone/noise albums can lose focus and the intended sense of foreboding or horror – not so here; perhaps because it’s an EP or more likely, due to W’s attention to their craft, the pieces here sustain an unusual energy, minimalism and mystique that keeps the listener engaged, through the opening track, followed by ‘Kiasma’ & ‘Viktoriia’ to the closer, ‘The Desecration of Beaivi’ a colossal 12-minute paean to our relationship with the environment, the responsibilities to it and an exploration of how it manifests itself deep within the human psyche, both in the distant past and in the modern era.
Invest, immerse and involve yourself in this EP and indeed, Malvost’s other works; you won’t be disappointed.
Oljud is out now via Trepanation Recordings and can be ordered here.
Words: Scott Crawford