SØS Gunver Ryberg ~ SPINE

Copenhagen sound designer creates a lattice of patterns and textures on SPINE, prodding angular movements from listeners as they lean into the abstractions.  This is the first release on Ryberg’s Arterial label, introduced with an inclusive and encouraging manifesto: “a place for expression without genres.”

While the overall expression is electronic, the music bleeds hints of ambient, industrial and IDM.  This can be easily explained by the artist’s desire to create a sci-fi vision unclouded by any dystopian nightmare: an alternate architecture that imagines humanity rising above its petty ambitions, ushering in a new era of cooperation and compromise.  While this might be viewed as non-pragmatic by some, it’s still possible, and those who adhere to such hope may eventually be the ones who see it to fruition.

The layering of elements ~ percussion, melody, washes of synth ~ suggests that seemingly disparate sources might work together for the common good.  Every couple tracks, Ryberg revokes the beats in order to prompt the dream.  In the most powerful pieces, rhythm returns with a vengeance.  The title track is the first, laden with a high-pitched pattern that suggests sneakers on a gym floor.  The most accessible is “Out of the Shadows,” arriving late in the set, more pounding than pulsing.

The tone is not entirely upbeat, as underlined by the titles “We tumble on the edges” and “Where do we go from here”.  Ryberg acknowledges the difficulty of achieving utopia.  In order to do so, a vision must be accompanied by action.  As the album recedes to a gentle end, it is as if to suggest a humble approach, rooted in respect, from which the rest might grow.  (Richard Allen)

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