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  • David Bentley

SkarWorX (NO) – ‘Mutual Madness’ (track from forthcoming debut album)

I hesitated to run the rule over this, the third track from the debut SkarWorX album which is scheduled to drop in August, because to look at three of the tracks in advance can lead to having little to review when the main event happens and detract from the impact of the complete works. Or worx, in this case.

But I relented because this is the most attention-grabbing track to date and with a complex arrangement and a surfeit of instrumentation. Or at least that what it sounds like but Øystein Skar has such a mastery of synthesisers that it might all be coming off one keyboard for all I know.

The most ‘gripping’ of the three tracks made public to date in that he builds up tension until you think it is about to explode but then he throttles back suddenly and unexpectedly, as he did with the first track, ‘Wisdom’.

I don’t know what it is about; there are no sleeve notes to consult yet but the phrase ‘Mutual Madness’ did prompt me to think of mutually assured destruction, the ‘concept’ that saved us in the Cold War, i.e. if you nuke us we will nuke you and no-one wins. It still applies today but without quite the same degree of urgency as there was in the 1960s to 1980s. That ratcheting up of tension did prompt me to think of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which took us to the brink and which is ably chronicled in the film ’13 Days,’ which has you on the edge of your seat even though you know the outcome.

‘Mutual Madness’ would have made for an appropriate soundtrack.

I’ve made much of the fact that Norway is replete with experimental musicians at the moment. While Sweden specialises in melancholia, Americana (often in the same song) and Scandi-pop, Denmark in lush ballads, Finland in metal and Iceland in, well, all sorts of zany stuff, the real inventive, avant-garde material is oozing out of Oslo and other cities around the country and SkarWorX is at the forefront of it.

As it happens the first SkarWorX live performance took place on Saturday 26th June as this was written, in an outdoor arena at the annual Peer Gynt Festival, which is held in the town that is Øystein Skar’s birthplace and that is where the photo here was taken.

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Photo credit: Martin Litwicki


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