When the Skull Defekts entered the studio in the Spring of 2013 with nothing more than a collection of loosely organized riffs, they set out to record their most extreme, challenging rock record. Much to the band’s surprise, what emerged were their most incessantly listenable, approachable songs to date. The Defekts merge the coarse vitality of punk with the ritualism of folk dances to create music that is addictive, wondrously discordant, and rooted in a belief in the overwhelming power of pure sound. Dances in Dreams of the Known Unknown is the Swedish group’s third release as a quintet, with the legendary Daniel Higgs joining Joachim Nordwall and Daniel Fagerstroem on vocal duties and acting as the group’s spiritual ringleader. The Defekts have long acted as the backbone of the Swedish experimental underground, but since their 2011 breakthrough Peer Amid, the group has emerged at the vanguard of a new wave of radical Scandinavian rock music alongside Iceage and the Posh Isolation label.
From the opening patter of “Pattern of Thoughts” to the propulsive chants of “Cyborganization,” Dances in Dreams of the Known Unknown feeds on the tension between lean and bright song production and the hefty, sometimes surreal sounds produced by Nordwall and Fagerstroem’s guitars. Daniel Higgs’ spontaneous, metaphoric poetry is as perplexing as ever, but it is delivered with a clarity not heard since his days fronting Lungfish. Album centerpiece “The Known Unknown” is centered around a driving riff, with Nordwall turning the song’s title into a mantra as intense as it is transcendent. Throughout, the group anchors their riffs with exotic sustained chords, adding a distinctly Carnatic flavor.
Nordwall’s long history in the European experimental music community serves to reinforce the group’s place as one of the most forward-thinking rock bands working in the continent today. In addition to running iDEAL Recordings since 1998, Nordwall has released collaborative recordings with Mika Vanio of Pan Sonic, Kevin Drumm, and Mats Gustafsson, whose FIRE! Orchestra he recently joined. Although the Skull Defekts have ceased to perform or record noise music, that adventurous spirit is still a dominant part of their music.
The Known Unknown
Unholy Drums (Live at the Hideout)
Pattern of Thoughts
Push It Down On Me (Live at the Hideout)