Northern Electronics represents the fresh independent music label launched in 2013 and operating from Stockholm, Sweden.
Northern Electronics is a new label from Abdulla Rashim, the Swedish producer who's been turning heads in recent years with a textured take on techno that has mostly come out on his own self-titled imprint. This new label looks to be an outlet for contributions from friends as well as Rashim. First is Varg's Misantropen, an eight-track release filled with chilly, acid-laced abstractions.
Varg, a relative newcomer to electronic music with roots in black metal, works in single takes with analog gear; the TB-303 is his go-to machine on Misantropen. "Mount Analogue," a rare track without acid, has a voice telling of immortal men living atop holy mountains. That imagery is perfectly complemented by the thunderous "Norrländska Vemodet," which sees Varg chase a few high-speed 303 riffs with furious, uneven rushes of percussion. "Skoptsky" features a more straightforward rhythm pitched around 90 BPM, though it's hardly any less frenetic, while "Stambanan," of a similar tempo but with much more open space, is easily the album's most relaxed moment.
tThe second half of the EP is stronger, with Varg favoring even more melancholy. "Wizard Howling With The Silver Box," composed of nothing more than a single, slowly (and smartly) shifted 303 line, is a splendid piece, albeit a short one, and "Licwiglunga," which staggers to the beat of odd meter drum patterns, is another highlight. "Fimbulvetr" acts as a brief prelude to last track "Náströnd"'s squirming, slow-burning techno—about as close as Misantropen gets to a dance floor. The improvised, one-take approach here does yield a rough patch or two. A few of the endings are abrupt, and the ambient pieces "Wizard Howling" and "Fimbulvetr" could be given more time to stretch out. But those are only minor issues: fans of off-kilter electronics should find Misantropen to be a trip worth taking.