This is a superb debut from the new Norwegian trio named Cakewalk, aka Øysten Skar on synthesizers, Stephan Meidell guitar, bass and boxes, and Ivar Lee Bjørnstad, drums.
Wired (on the excellent Hubro label) is brief but richly compelling: six tracks in half an hour, all except one being taut, highly compacted, vivid and compulsively vigorous.
The opening salvo, “Glass” is driven by propulsive percussion, its gritty guitar and luminous synth melodies creating an immersive sound that combines both pristine and corroded textures to really prick the ear.
The intro to “Descent” marries retro-futuristic synth to refractive cymbal scrapes, before the trio lock into a post-Neu Kosmische grind, and then take off on a thrilling vortical updraft. When they ultimately plateau, Bjørnstad lays down a spartan rhythm beneath Skar and Meidell’s abstract expressionism. (Bjørnstad, incidentally, is also the drummer for the Hedvig Mollestad Trio, whose album Shoot! I reviewed here.)
“Soil”, the album’s only real breather, is deep-space glister blossoming into new age electro-acoustic complexity. Only 3 minutes long, it nonetheless opens the album up to contemplation of its richly varied textures and tone colours.
Back on the highway, “Perpetual” is restless forward motion tempered by grinding synth-bass until the band takes a detour into harsher syntheses. Bjørnstad’s drums take a real pummelling before the track is through. Title track “Wired” then throws avant-rock shapes (think Beefhart, or maybe the Ex, jamming with Radiohead), with Meidell playing some excoriating guitar licks while simultaneously maintaining a dirty pecking rhythm.
A stately coda, the anthemic “Kammer” bears the album, surging and majestic on tidal drums and best-sense proggy unison riffs to its conclusion.
Cakewalk has somehow come up with a unique group sound that marries motorik kraut- to prog-rock with punk-jazz energy and a large dash of essential originality. With the vivid and compulsive Wired they’ve delivered one of the albums of the year, no doubt.
Other Hubro albums reviewed on Dalston Sound
Erland Dahlen: Rolling Bomber / 1982: Pintura / Tore Brunborg & Kirsti Huke: Scent of Soil