Former Norwegian schoolmates Otto A Totland and Erik K Skodvin are described as having been both friends and enemies. Of such complexity is inspiration often born. In this case, the two formed the moodily intricate Deaf Center. Sonic Pieces’ seven-inch Harmony from the Past presents the work of the duo in a manner befitting of their school days: each artist gets one side. It’s as if the two friends had been fighting at recess, and were ordered to go to different sides of the room. Those familiar with Deaf Center may feel that the record provides a classroom window through which one can spy, tracing the musical influences back to their respective origins. Such is all speculation, but it makes sense while listening to the record to conclude that the modern composition influence is stronger from Totland and the dark ambient from Skodvin.
Totland’s three piano pieces total but six minutes in length, but the upside is that no idea is overrun by repetition. Each track establishes a mood very early (with play times as short as 1:09, it has to be early), then allows a brief period for the mood to sink in. A dark-keyed autumn hue is apparent; this is music for longer nights, brighter moons, barer branches. A full album of such beauties would be welcome; may I suggest an olive cover? Skodvin uses his side to present a single 5-minute piece, a tonal follow-up to the well-received Flare. “Blind” plays with percussion like a child playing with dead branches. Sullen yet focused, the track rises slowly in intensity, as ghostly tones haunt the perimeter before gaining the courage to move to the center.
Each side stands well on its own; nothing is lost without the other. And yet, each side compliments the other as well. Whether separate or together – or in this case, separate and together – it’s clear that the pair were meant to be friends, and we’re glad they’re still getting along. (Richard Allen)
Release date: November 30