Sweden noise monks The Skull Defekts and their charismatic necromancer leader Daniel Higgs (this is the third record he has now recorded with the band) are back, with typically verbose and cryptic LP Dances in the Dreams of the Known Unknown (out once more on Thrill Jockey). There have been some backhanded compliments thrown this album's way - and after the excellence of last record Peer Amid, such reservations are warranted. The thing is, I am loving the primordial sworl, the primitive space, the way Higgs' vocals seem to be echoing out of an alternate reality, a vast darkness before life began. The album rides on the darkness, the roiling angularity of guitars, yet on 'Awaking Dream' we are taken into the desert and left to travel on our own, Higgs as spiritual guide, totem, and possible Loki. Because there is always a sense of menace that builds underneath the hypnotic pummelling, the cyclical double helix of noise as catharsis, that epiphany and destruction are forever entwined. The drumming in particular forces things forward with tremulous force, a tenebrous monster from the deep, ensuring that each song feels twice as long and arduous as they actually are, the sweat burning icily through your skin, yet the duress is wished for and desired. So whilst Peer Amid may have been the more overtly ambitious (and successful) album, Dances in the Dreams of the Known Unknown is a feverish, tightly coiled cast back into the fires of the Beginning, the End, the Beginning, the End - eternal flames, pleasure as pain, pain as pleasure, the darkness in the light.
Get the record here.