Norwegian artist Helge Sten, who makes music as Deathprod, trades not in massive dynamic shifts but in uniformly gray ambient soundscapes. He typically uses a variegated array of homemade electronics, samplers, out-of-date processors, and other audio detritus that echo, hiss, and throb like futuristic boilers arduously coming online while retro steampunk conglomerations cough and doppler away. His new album, Compositions, doesn’t radically differ from this formula, but it seems like an advancement or at least a distillation. Sten’s 2019 album, Occulting Disk, spread grainy smears of sound across monumental tracks in an assault of brown noise. Compositions, by contrast, pares his sound back to its essence. Its 17 compact pieces feel like they’re constantly on the verge of diffusing and collapsing into particles of dust. Sten called Occulting Disk an antifascist ritual, but Compositions seems more like an evocation of cyberpunk exhaustion and emptiness—it doesn’t blare defiance but rather crawls and scrapes into a resolute, alien form. Compositions is dreamy, poetic, and sad, but at the same time it rejects such emotions in favor of staring blankly at microscopic fractures in a tall, bleak wall.
Deathprod’s Compositions is available through Bandcamp.