Svarta Stugan – EP2: A Mutation and a Madness. Self-released, 2013.
True Story: About two weeks ago, I decided to re-watch Twin Peaks from start to finish for the first time since the show was on, roughly 24 years ago. This week, we received a review copy of an EP from a band calling themselves Svarta Stugan, or roughly translated, “Black Lodge.” The timing of these two events could not have coincided better.
According to their press release, Svarta Stugan is a “swedish twee-noise/post-rock trio” that is “…inspired by H.P Lovecraft” and whose new concept EP “sounds like a mix between God Speed you! Black Emperor with the soundtracks to Twin Peaks and Blade Runner.” If you know anything about me, you know that this description sounds like they found my personal Facebook page and just pulled key words from it. in other words, if it lives up to their description, it could very well become my personal soundtrack.
I’m happy to say that it does, indeed, live up to their promises.
The EP’s opening track, “Os Sobreviventes,” starts off peacefully enough, with a minimalist guitar melody and the sound of boots crunching snow. Bout a minute and a half in, however, things get more ominous. This track is pretty straight-forward post-rock, complete with the sort of “narrative arc” that some of the best post-rock has.
Track 2, “Second Attempt” breaks from by-the-numbers post-rock with slightly ghostly male vocals, singing:
Girl I wish you to be real
But your face is looking dim
That mirror holds my changeling
Wait for you to say what is real…
The music builds to a noisy, lo-fi climax before calming back down and blending into the third track, “Re-Birth”.
Of the four tracks, “Re-Birth” is the one I hear the biggest Twin Peaks/Angelo Badalamenti influence. Cymbals and feedback play underneath a jazzy trombone before the whole thing swells into chaos. In my current, hyperfocused mindset, I can see the Red Room of Agent Cooper’s dreams when I listen to this song.
The final track, “Slow Slow Slow” shares a slight melodic similarity to Badalamenti’s “Laura’s Theme,” but loses that withing the first minute or so. This track manages to sound both victorious and melancholy at the same time. According to Svarta Stugan’s bandcamp page, this is where the EP’s main character “ultimately conquers his tormentors and makes his way back to the human realm” but “…emerges from the abyss a mere shadow of his former self.” This really does come through, and the band does a great job of marrying their story to the music.
In the end, EP2: A Mutation and a Madness is a great little EP that led me to check out their previous, self-titled EP, and left me wanting to hear their next release.