There’s a dense oppressive wind blowing out of Copenhagen. It carries with it the incandescent echo of a subverted percussive rhythm that’s hard to distinguish between the various elements of noise and discordant tones liberally occupying all the space directly in your sonic environment. It’s in inescapable; yet there’s a magnificent calm to it all that transfixes the listener and transcends any temporal focus. It’s the sound of Human Trails, the Copenhagen artist associated with Panama Mirrors and previously known as Grøn or Bjarke Rasmussen. Human Trails sees Bjarke venture into the cloudy world of dark ambience, with frosty textures underpinned by steady constant percussive and droning rhythms that ease the listener into a comfortable, yet tentative state of rumination.
The four-track tape offers magnificent sonic atmospheres, which go from low rumbling processed samples to glacially thin synthesisers that encourage association with the artist’s arctic environment. At its critical peak Inertia toils away with no real progression in sight, much like the title suggests and leaves the slightest glimmer of light sparkling through the dense layers of malicious drones and foggy synthesisers. It’s this track that Copenhagen-based label “it was gnarled” have given The Formant a sneak preview of while we get a short introduction from the artist behind the work.
Can you give us an introduction and tell us a little more about who you are and what you do?
I’m Bjarke, 30 years old from Copenhagen
How is your work as Human Trails different from your work as Panama Mirrors and Grøn, besides being a solo pursuit?
Human Trails is definitely more noisy, colder and fast-paced. I’ve been performing as Grøn for more than three years now, and even though the projects share some attributes, Human Trails is of a completely different temper and agenda. I’ve been doing Human Trails for about six months, and only performed live twice, so there’s still a lot to explore!
Can you tell us a little about the ideas around this release?
It started out with me borrowing my friend’s Microbrute, adding some very minimal beats on it and then recorded some tracks. I spent some more time with the Microbrute and a bunch of other classics like the Junos. Then I deleted those initial tracks and made four completely new ones during a weekend. Those four new ones became this release…
What were the major influences?
This project is definitely a natural fraction of Grøn being explored, but I’ve of course been influenced by other artists like Oil Thief, Lundin Oil, Lussuria, Ron Morelli and lots of other stuff.
How would you describe the EP?
I think it’s really difficult to describe my own EP. Can we skip this one? I’m sure my answers to the other questions will make an impression…
What do you hope the listener will get from it?
I don’t think I have a certain aim. But I normally go for a bike ride when I listen to a mix. It’s a good way to get out of the studio, get some fresh air and test a mix. For me, at least, this music is really good for bike riding.
The PR states that it has a very Scandinavian feel, and while I often find cold, stark elements to the music, I’m curious if you as a musician feel quite affected by your environment, and how it influences your music.
Absolutely – these tracks were recorded with cold and gloomy weather outside. But there sure is also a glimpse of light in some of the tracks.
It appears for the most part you’ve avoided progression in favour of a sonic atmosphere. I think Inertia is quite appropriate for the whole feel of the EP. Was it your intention to keep things quite immoveable and how does it fit into your creative process?
Inertia was the last of the four tracks I recorded. It is my favourite of the four. I tried to keep all of the tracks slow and almost static. Inertia really succeeded in sounding calm, but with a somewhat vicious undertow.
If you skip through the individual tracks you’ll notice development, but since they’re released on cassette, skipping will be nothing but trouble – that’s what I love so much about the format. It forces you listen to it in it’s whole.
Dark-ambient was another phrase used to describe your music. What, in your opinion, makes the tracks appear so dark?
It’s the slow struggles of discordant overtones mixed with hoarse synth layers and a minimal presence of rhythm.
This is your first release, but from what I can tell, there’ll be more to come from you. What’s in the future for Human Trails and how do you see your music evolving?
Right now I mostly work on the live setup, but that usually leads to new recordings.
* Human Trails’ debut is set for release on the 6th of February and you can get your copy here.