Official reissue of Civilistjävel!’s first, self-titled archival LP in sky-blue embossed sleeve, 500 copies.
A minor masterpiece of high-lonesome, ultra-spacey existential electronics, recorded in the ‘90s and early 2000s, the music on this album had never been heard outside the Swedish artist’s private tape/CD-R trading networks until 2018 – when London’s Low Company presented it in a hand-assembled vinyl edition of 250 with scant context or biographical info. Some people understandably thought the project might be a ruse – was it really plausible that material this accomplished and affecting had fallen under the radar for 20-odd years? Implausible, perhaps, but true nonetheless.
Five years on we know that Civilistjävel is indeed the real deal: the alter ego of a discreet but by no means reclusive solo artist based in Uppsala who has for decades been quietly honing his craft without worrying about who’s listening. Since 2019 he has become more visible: performing live several times in and around Europe, and last year releasing a brand new studio album, Järnnätter, on Felt Records. Meanwhile Low Company has put out four subsequent, vinyl-only volumes of archival material. These have increasingly tended towards the more rhythmic/techno-oriented impulse in Civilistjävel, so it’s interesting to return now to Volume 1: comprised of the most introspective and isolationist of his works, tapping into deep wells of northern European melancholy. It’s a music made with no audience in mind, but simply to suit itself: cold-world kosmische, intimate minimal synth etudes, bowled percussion clusters and impossibly yearning, 30-days-of-night ambient dronescapes. Created mostly using a Juno60 and Korg MS20, and home-recorded to DAT (crackles and surface-noise preserved intact), you can hear in these seven expansive instrumentals unconscious echoes of Serge Bulot and Anna Sjalve Treje’s crepuscular dream-sequences, Scandinavian black metal’s mist-cloaked forest-fantasies, the austere dub-techno of Thomas Köner and Basic Channel, and the gristly, consumptive concrète of Nurse With Wound and Asmus Tietchens.
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