Bold melodies emerge from a mix of glitches and string arrangements.
Natalie Shaw 2011
The Deer Tracks’ trilogy, The Archer, is now on its second part. By some way of context, The Deer Tracks are a Swedish male-female duo who record music in a remote cabin; music that has, over time, sat comfortably in the ‘structureless ethereal ghost-noise’ box. On this collection of nine tracks, there are some bold melodies thrown into a mix ripe with hauntological glitches.
The log cabin setting is somewhat of a misnomer for how giant and accessible some of Pt. 2 sounds. The Archer is magical and melancholic, and the latter half of Fra Ro Raa / Ro Ra Fraa could easily belong to Saint Etienne. There’s little isolation in how these songs sit with Fall With Me, brittle and compressed, featuring a sugary vocal at its helm. Throughout, tracks are repeatedly beautiful, but not always rewarding.
There’s a spooky synchronicity to the voices of David Lehnberg and Elin Lindfors, a welcome unifier on an album wildly varying in mood and sound: take the delicate and vast 1000 Vanda Kinder, for example, which sits just next to Fa Fire’s guitar-heavy crystalline chorus and oversized production. But perhaps against its will, the ghostly accord acts as a sedative rather than a soundscape. Dark Passenger is The Deer Tracks’ proto-Portishead number, but its industrial booms are not so much sounds we never imagined, more gorgeous and spacious noises which listeners past might have been expecting. The crashing krautrock thumps contrast particularly oddly with a rhyme about breaking someone’s neck to give them a reality check.
Song structures follow a similar chronology: loosely, each song grows from a skeleton into a gigantic string arrangement. This formula is stretched beyond belief as the album progresses, but it’s still a comfort – something for the listener to clutch on to in an otherwise vast collection of sounds. By the end, the album feels oddly familiar – the listener becomes comfortable with the discomfort, as each new development becomes less intimidating and unpredictable following opener Meant to Be’s initial punch.
This album is a delight in many places – even though it’s too sweet to be powerful and too leftfield to be pop. The songs seep in, but again this is like a background to sleep, streamed in at low-volume rather than as a soundtrack to a thought process or to action. It’s certainly redolent of a country that can spend months without daylight.