|5||We tumble on the edges||2:46|
|8||Where do we go from here||4:27|
|9||Out of the Shadows||4:28|
If we want to look into the future, we have to start considering the implications more holistically. All too often, science fiction is a dystopian projection of the current era's grimmest realities spiked with pragmatic historical hindsight - but what if instead it was able to reflect our needs, hopes, and dreams? On "SPINE", award-winning Danish composer SØS Gunver Ryberg considers a sustainable alternative, buoyed by interconnectedness, empowerment, and understanding. Channeling her dextrous sound design into advanced, time-bending music that fluctuates through techno, experimental ambient, and soundsystem-vibrating bass music, she maps out an artistic landscape that's futuristic and complex, but never oppressive.
Ryberg is an accomplished producer who's developed her sound over many years, playing concerts and working tirelessly on video game soundtracks, film scores, dance, performance, and multichannel installation pieces. Her first solo album "Entangled" appeared in 2019 on Berlin's esteemed Avian imprint, and was praised for its sensitive approach to noise and abstracted techno, while its EP-length followup "WHYT 030" was nominated for the Nordic Council's prestigious music prize this year. "SPINE" is the inaugural release on Ryberg's own label Arterial, and stands as a thematically dense statement of intent. The label provides a platform to extend Ryberg's artistic goals and reflect not just her world but a world she wants to see develop in the future: somewhere connected and creative, where exploration and free expression is prioritized over genre division and petty compromise.
This philosophy is central to the sounds on "SPINE", which have been carefully sculpted to accurately lay out Ryberg's worldview. Opening track 'Unfolding' presents a sonic ecosystem that flourishes as it spreads itself out, and quivering kick drums vibrate alongside unstable atmospherics. There's the faint fingerprint of Chain Reaction's notional dub techno in there somewhere, but Ryberg interrupts the thought before it can coagulate, assuring the listener that her vision isn't ponderous but playful and optimistic. This mood flickers into view again on the title track 'Spine', as fragmented breaks rumble beneath disorienting synths, faint images of a life we once knew refracted into cosmic beams of light. 'Mirrored Madness' meanwhile is warm, assertive, and optimistic, contrasting skittering cybernetic percussion with dense, enveloping harmonies.
When she pushes rhythm into the background, like on the cinematic 'We tumble on the edges', Ryberg's compositional skill is placed under the microscope. We're presented with the opportunity to examine another dimension of her work, the mystery beneath the stone, hearing saturated, alluring pads infused with hidden harmonies. In these moments, Ryberg implores all of us to consider the environment, asking us to think about the earth's essential nutrients on the dreamy 'Phosphorus Cycle', and what we might do to save ourselves on the delirious 'Where do we go from here'. Ryberg's concern isn't chastising, it's laid out in a warm embrace. The future could still be bright - there's something beautiful in the complexity if you just take the time to look closely.