• The Leaf Label
Swedish electronic duo Roll the Dice returns in bigger and bolder form on Until Silence, their third full-length, and the look suits them well (I wrote about their second, In Dust, in this post).

Their music is still spare and minimalist, but Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt are moving in a darker direction here. If their previous tracks played like scores to experimental short films, the new record suggests that they're ready to provide soundtracks for widescreen epics with extended battle sequences.

It's the pounding percussion on "Assembly," the second selection, that lends the proceedings a martial feel, though I don't know whether they used live drums, a triggered effect, or a manipulated sample*—and I suspect they may have imbibed a little Led Zeppelin and a lot of Apocalypse Now while constructing the composition, because I hear echoes of "Kashmir" mixed with the muted clatter of a circling helicopter.

* Probably the former (live drums) as the album features a 26-piece orchestra.

An explosion of Power, Corruption and Lies
  • The Leaf Label
  • An explosion of Power, Corruption and Lies
When it comes to electronic music, I tend to focus on the end result more than the individual components, because the magic dissipates once I see what lies behind the curtain. It's one of the reasons why I prefer to enjoy it from the comfort of my own home rather than in the live context, though I appreciate the artists who add video projections and other embellishments to the guys-in-front-of-their-laptops format (much respect to innovative ladies like Julianna Barwick and Maria Minerva, but men still dominate this field).

And yet, as I continued to listen to Until Silence, which has a pronounced end-times feel, curiosity overcame me after all. Not about the means of production, but about the impetus behind this maelstrom. Pardon and Mannerfelt don't come across as despondent, but rather angry. Is it anger at themselves, anger at the state of the world, or some combination of the two?

The answer lies in their label's description of the "Assembly" video:

The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard matches blow for blow, the scale and beauty of this epic centrepiece from new album Until Silence. Footage from the Russian settlements at Barentsburg and Colesbukta and a tense full-blooded orchestral build suggest political tensions in a world thirsting for oil. There are helicopters, snowmobiles, and polar bears. Pretty much all you could ever want from a music video! The film was directed by visual collaborators Frode [Fjerdingstad] & Marcus [Palmqvist].

I find it incredibly empowering, but the same sounds that make want to strap on the body armor and do battle against the forces of evil are often the same sounds that irritate the fuck out of everybody else (Cabaret Voltaire, Suicide, the Body, etc). I also have a high tolerance for repetition, especially a repeated theme that builds in intensity as it gathers steam—a Roll the Dice specialty.

Another specialty: the tactile humanity that infuses their work, especially when they bring acoustic instruments into play as on "Haunted Piano," in which a minor-key melody meets subtly grinding electronics. It captures the awkward, yet elegant vibe of a Quay Brothers film. But the black and white video below represents the sort of widescreen work I referenced above. It isn't technically a film, but it's more than just another hastily produced promotional clip—the image of the underwater polar bear will haunt my dreams for years to come.

Warning! If you've got a headache, it won't help. If not: it might give you one.

Until Silence is out now on The Leaf Label. RTD will also be contributing to a live score for the London screening of the new film from Belgian cut-ups Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, which played at this year's SIFF (more info here). While the duo hasn't announced any US dates, the film with its original score plays The Grand Illusion this September.