The Silence Set – Teeth Out

The Silence Set - Teeth Out

The Silence Set – Teeth Out

Reportedly three years in the making, this debut LP from the Gothenburg-based duo of Dag Rosenqvist and Johan G Winther certainly wasn’t built for the fast-lane.  Instead, the aggressively anointed Teeth Out is an exercise in slow-motion constructionism that leans heavily on the huddled collaboration that one might stereotypically expect from a country of exceptionally long winters and more egalitarian thinking.  Drawing together strands of their work elsewhere with the likes of Jasper TX and Scraps Of Tape, as well as drafting in choice outside helpers, Teeth Out mixes intricate warmth and stark austerity to often impressive effect.

The wordless opening “We Will Die Enraged” establishes the simmering musical tensions that underpin the album throughout; as balmy acoustic layers are pushed against distorting electronica.  In its wake the blurring between arcane and more contemporary settings is thankfully more subtle, although the disquieting digitalism lingers and rears-up for dramatic accenting at points across the collection.

For the bulk of the long-player’s vocal-led tracks Winther takes to the mic with plaintive rusticism, whilst being surrounded by arrangements peppered with electronics, slow-beaten drums, banjo, piano, pump organ and acoustic guitars, to imagine a hybridisation of Califone’s Roots & Crowns and Sufjan Stevens’s The Age Of Adz.  This voice-driven tranche of tracks includes highlights in the form of the prettily mesmeric “Mirrored In”, the darkly mournful “Little Hands” and the plangent pastures of “The Passing”.  Perhaps the only weak vocal track is “Words Meant To Harm”, which is just a little too head-scrambling in his gnarly glitchtronic second half.  However, redemption comes with a guest spot from Heather Woods Broderick, whose delicate yet intense tones and florid flute-playing makes the nine-minute “Worry, Glory” – which also features synth parts from Nils Frahm – such a rapturous delight.

For the instrumental pieces which extend over the remaining corners of Teeth Out the results are perhaps less consistent but are not without imagination or ambition.  Hence, “Deliverance” begins as gorgeous banjo-steered unplugged essay that is gradually subsumed by waves of crushing white noise that mirrors Mogwai’s most brutal moments; “All I Know I All I Need” adds in an interlude-shaped dronescape; the epic “Needles” makes good use of its length by gradually guiding a baroque piano-piece through passages replete with found sounds, loops, drones, fizzing electronics, strings and brass; and the album-closing “Little Dancing Hands” winds things down as an ecclesiastical pump organ miniature.

Whilst at times Teeth Out can be challenging and almost offputtingly ascetic, at its core resides a strong grasp of elegiac songcraft and atmosphere-conjuring.  If The Silence Set’s sharper edges could just be softened without slipping into smoothness, then the next album could be a real treat. In the interim though, Teeth Out bares itself as a promising new beginning.

mini50 Records